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If you’re a senior citizen or caregiver for one, then you may be feeling more than a little anxious these days. With the coronavirus in full effect and seniors living longer with chronic conditions, managing anxiety is now more important than ever! Check out this blog post for tips on how to manage anxiety amid the coronavirus in 2021.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has been anxiety-inducing for most people, but for people with chronic illnesses or people who fall into the high-risk demographics, this has been a particularly worrisome time.
It can be hard to figure out how to navigate your anxiety when your health is legitimately in danger, but there are ways to manage it successfully. Here’s what you can do.
Acknowledge Your Anxiety
Anxiety is a funny thing—it gets worse when you ignore it. So, as counterintuitive as it may seem, acknowledging that you feel anxious, and that it’s reasonable to feel anxious right now, can help you begin to feel better.
Anxiety is the body and brain’s natural response to sensing danger, so it makes sense that as someone in a high-risk category, you would feel frightened.
However, that’s not to say that you should spend all your time thinking about how worried you feel. There is no immediate danger if you’re careful—just a need to be cautious and thoughtful about your behavior and moving through the world.
Instead of allowing your anxiety to take over your body, try noticing when you feel nervous or afraid, then give those feelings some space to exist.
Finding a way to process how you feel, either by talking with someone you trust or by expressing your feelings through writing or art, offers you some control over those feelings.
When you notice anxiety sneaking up on you, say hello to it, process how you feel in the moment, and then invite it to move on by finding a healthy way to distract yourself.
Healthy Distraction Works
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to manage your anxiety is to distract yourself from it. It’s best to stay away from social media, and resist watching or reading the news too frequently—you’re more likely to find more reasons for your anxiety than become sidetracked from it.
Instead, find nourishing, relaxing, or joyful ways to distract yourself. Make a beautiful meal, bake something delicious, read a good book or spend time outside gardening or going for a walk. Call someone you love and plan a video chat.
Whether you choose to move your body, do something with your hands, or talk to a loved one, keeping your mind busy and your heart full can help keep anxiety at bay.
Talk to Your Health Care Team
Knowing the facts can help you combat anxiety over how your health could be impacted by this pandemic. It can be helpful to seek up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus in your area from trustworthy sources like the CDC or your state department of health.
However, it may be more personally relevant to talk to your doctor or other members of your health care team. This way, you’re able to express the worries you have that are specific to your health, and your medical team can give you accurate information. You’ll know what to be truly concerned about, and what to let go of.
If you have a therapist or counselor, they can also help ease your mind and give you tools that are specific to you to help you manage your anxiety. Never hesitate to ask for help from your health care team—they’re there to help care for you.
Find Ways to Take Control
Part of what makes people anxious in situations like this is the lack of control. You can’t predict how this outbreak will play out, nor can you predict how long it will go on. Beyond that, what people choose to do out in the public sphere is beyond your control, so it can feel frightening—particularly when you rely on others making good choices to help keep you safe and healthy.
However, it can be helpful and empowering to remember that you have control over certain situations and over your own behavior. Find ways that you can take back control so you can feel as calm as possible in this unprecedented situation. In most cases, you can control when you leave your home, how you leave your home, and how you choose to behave when you’re in public.
You can wear a mask anytime you’re out in public, and you can keep hand sanitizer with you to practice careful hand hygiene. You can be aware of your surroundings and maintain social distance, and in most cases, you can avoid situations that make social distancing difficult.
When you need to shop and pick up essentials, you can look into delivery services, or take advantage of special shopping times reserved for people who fall into high-risk categories. As unnerving as this situation can feel, there is a lot you can do to take control and make sure you’re staying as safe as possible.
Make Time to Take Care of Yourself
When you feel anxious or overwhelmed by information, don’t underestimate the power of taking care of yourself. People talk a lot about self-care lately, but it’s truly important in times like these.
Self-care isn’t selfish and it’s essential to maintaining your mental and physical health. Taking care of yourself includes big and small things. The absolute musts are making sure you get enough sleep each night, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated and exercise.
Beyond taking care of your basic needs, you also need to make sure you’re doing things that help you feel calm and comforted. Get outside for a brief period each day, or commit to opening the curtains every morning. Take the time to enjoy your first cup of coffee or tea, and make time for a book or TV show that makes you laugh.
As your day winds down, take a bath or make a date to talk to a friend. You can also incorporate mindfulness exercises, meditation, or breathing exercises to help calm your body and manage anxiety. No matter how you take care of yourself, remember that although this is hard, self-care can help you get through it.
It’s hard to believe that a virus could cause such havoc. But, in my opinion, it is not unexpected given the stresses of modern life and our collective fear of pandemics. The difference between the Spanish Flu outbreak and this one may be that we now have effective treatments for anxiety disorders – like benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) or antidepressants- which can reduce panic attacks before they start. If you are feeling anxious about coronavirus in 2021, don’t wait until 2019 to get help! Get a quote from us today!
Jen Coltrin is the Content and Marketing Manager at Inogen. Inogen’s mission is to educate oxygen users on how to navigate life with supplemental oxygen.