Ever felt as if a faint buzz is emanating from your head? As though an alarm were to sound at any moment? Are your shoulders inching higher than they should be despite your best efforts to relax them? You probably suffer from some anxiety. Psychologists indicate that although occasional anxiety is normal for everyone, some individuals have been experiencing chronic, low-level anxiety owing to the near-constant uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. As a result, the phrase “it’s not over until it’s over” has taken on new significance as we enter the third year of this world-changing catastrophe.
Some individuals are suffering a kind of accumulative anxiety. Professor of psychological sciences at Kent State University Angela Neal-Barnett, PhD, says, “We believe we know what’s going on and what we’re doing, but then the virus performs a 180 on us. We’re being expected to be flexible, but we don’t know the rules. People are just worn out.”
The current state of our news feeds, which are frequently filled with horrors from the war in Ukraine, excessive gun violence in our children’s schools, and growing momentum to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would restrict abortion access for the majority of the country, to name a few stressors, certainly doesn’t help.
“Anxiety and concern are essential human survival functions. Michi Fu, PhD, a Los Angeles–based psychologist who specializes in dealing with Asian American women, children, and families, tells us, “But if we’re in a continual state of high alert, it’s overwhelming, and it inhibits our capacity to use the inner resources we have—and need—to cope with anxiety.”
If this seems like something you’ve been experiencing, it’s vital to realize that you are not alone, and there are helpful coping solutions available right now. Following are some strategies for coping with anxiety when you feel overwhelmed.