10 Sneaky Ways Your Coronavirus Anxiety Is Coming Out

COVID-19 is messing with everyone’s mental health. Here are subtle signs it’s affecting yours, plus advice on how to cope.

From Huffington Post by Dominique Astorino

For Zoom video, go to Huffington Post here!

Anxiety is pretty damn sneaky.

Kevin Gilliland, a clinical psychologist and executive director at i360 in Dallas, said that when he asks patients if they think they have anxiety, the answer is most often “no.”

In reality, they really do struggle with the mental health problem, he said. Anxiety can be hard to pinpoint or identify because presents in many different ways that may seem unrelated.

This is especially true right now when it comes to the anxiety many of us are feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our lives have been altered in unimaginable and numerous ways, which can trigger the stress hormone cortisol and lead to emotional and physical symptoms.

“Good old fashioned ‘run of the mill’ anxiety is often manifested in ways people don’t associate with anxiety,” said Forrest Talley, a psychologist based in Folsom, California.

Curious how you can spot when that anxiety is coming out? Below, the experts break down the subtle signs to watch for:

1. You’re feeling more tired than usual, even if you don’t do much during the day

If you haven’t had the same gusto each day that you usually do, you’re not alone. Gilliland noted that energy loss is “the most common and confusing side effect of this pandemic, especially for people that are typically active or frequent exercisers.”

“Even if you’re not a ‘morning person,’ you’re definitely not a night person right now,” Gilliland said. “All this stress and worry starts to drain our battery in a hurry and by mid-afternoon, most people are on a slippery slope to the couch or bed.”

2. You aren’t sleeping well

Perhaps you’re tired all the time and you want to sleep, but no dice. Or maybe you do fall asleep, but the quality isn’t great. Blame it on your anxiety. “Insomnia frequently occurs in anxious people,” Talley said.

Rachel Wright, a therapist in New York City, said excess cortisol levels have a negative impact on the quality of rest and ability to fall asleep. To rectify, do what you can to create a nighttime ritual, stick to a consistent bedtime, avoid screens for an hour or so before bed, and limit caffeine intake in the afternoon so you can support your sleep cycle the best you can.

3. You startle easily

We all get startled from time to time, but if you’re more jumpy than usual it’s time to take notice. Your body and brain could be on high alert because of anxiety.

If your anxiety is presenting in tension and hypervigilance, “it doesn’t take much of the unexpected to have us come unwound,” Gilliland said. In other words, the mildest of triggers ― think a falling cup or a closing door ― might set off a larger than usual response.

4. You’re channeling lots of energy into hobbies or activities

Are you baking banana bread like we’re on the precipice of a banana famine? Taking 16 free online courses, and learning two new languages? Fostering a dog, growing tomatoes and strawberries, and sanitizing your house from top to bottom?

Excessive enthusiasm or extreme productivity might be your coping mechanism, or how your anxiety is presenting.

“Some may find that they now tend to focus their mental energies on organizing their schedules, or the house or shopping routines,” Talley said. “The ability to gain control through organizing provides a counterbalance to the sense of having little control over that which makes them anxious.”

This also includes enthusiasm in how you schedule your time, whether it be on Zoom with or in your daily routine. For example, “some people will find themselves inclined to exercise more ― a really healthy way to modulate anxiety ― but simply chalk up their newfound workout intensity to having more time,” Talley said. “Perhaps, but it may also be how they respond to anxiety.”

Make sure you’re taking time to rest and confront anything you may be feeling.

5. You don’t have much interest in anything

On the flip side, “COVID anxiety can appear as apathy,” said Habib Sadeghi, an integrative health expert and author of “The Clarity Cleanse.”

This is because routines that have given us structure and a sense of purpose are now disrupted or gone entirely. “When we can’t follow our routine or do the things that are important to us, like work, go to school, or work out, life can feel meaningless,” Sadeghi said.

The antidote? “It’s important to use this time to create new routines for ourselves and find new interests,” he said. (Just be careful not to fall into the trap mentioned above. There is a balance.)

A loss of interest in some of your favorite activities (which in severe cases is referred to as anhedonia, a symptom of depression) is not out of the ordinary right now ― but it may also be an indicator that you need some professional support.

6. Intense loneliness

“With all bars, restaurants, and other public gathering places closed, COVID anxiety can also manifest as loneliness,” Sadeghi said.

A remedy to this is not necessarily the most ideal option, but it can work: virtual connection. “Be sure you’re reaching out to family and friends over the phone and on live chat video platforms like Zoom,” he said. “Seeing and/or hearing the other person provides a connection that’s more personal and nurturing.”

Talley also attributed this symptom to people withdrawing from their support system due to anxiety. This can have a negative impact on your relationships, which then fuels the cycle further.

7. You’re experiencing reactivation or agitation of other mental health conditions

Coronavirus-related anxiety might compromise progress that you made on other mental health conditions. Sadeghi advised to watch for the reactivation of post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression in particular.

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mood disorder or mental illness, those cortisol levels can contribute to mood swings or “feeling like you’re on a mood roller coaster,” Wright said.

“A sense of despair, or possible mild depressive symptoms, may crop up,” Talley added. “Most people will not realize that the origins of this sadness have their roots in anxiety.”

It’s super-important to keep tabs on your emotions and ensure you have the right resources to support your mental health. Reach out to your therapist if you have one, and if you don’t try chatting with a professional via teletherapy or another support route. Also, stay on top of any medications you need, journal and take time for yourself. Do whatever you need to do to prioritize your mind.

8. You’re getting more headaches or other physical issues

Talley noted that you may see some physical symptoms that may appear to be all over the map. Think headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, ulcers, insomnia, rashes, hand tremors, general restlessness and gastrointestinal issues. Keep an eye out for these, and use them as a “check engine light” of sorts. They could be a sign you’re experiencing major anxiety.

9. You get angry or have more frequent outbursts

“For people who feel that some important aspect of life is in danger ― like their health or the health of loved ones ― and that they have little control over the outcome, it is not unusual for them to become angry,” Talley said. “The more one is used to feeling in control, the more likely one is to feel anger.”

This anger may be directed at yourself or at others. You might be overly self-critical about everything you do at work or pick apart your appearance, for example. Or you may find yourself snapping at your partner or getting frustrated with your parents more than usual.

“It is not uncommon for anxiety to cause people to become irritable,” Talley said. “Many who are anxious and irritable during this pandemic will attribute the irritability to the restrictions that have been imposed. In truth, their irritability is also due to their anxiety.”

10. You keep forgetting things

Having trouble staying on top of your to-dos? Forget something you were in the middle of? This is a cognitive symptom of anxiety, Talley said. Your brain is overloaded with stress and may struggle to manage tasks and mental checklists that seemed routine before.

“Some may find themselves more absent-minded and forgetful,” he said. “Their brain is overloaded with anxiety that distracts them, and depletes their ability to concentrate.”

If you’re dealing with any of these issues, reach out for professional support. Leaning on your loved ones is great, but there’s nothing wrong with seeking guided help. You don’t need to be at rock bottom to benefit from therapy.

Other than that, make sure you’re keeping up a healthy routine. That includes getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of water, eating well and regularly, moving your body in any way that feels good, and more. As we said, anxiety is pretty damn sneaky ― but you can tame it.

Therapists Explain How to Avoid Morning Anxiety

Anxiety in the morning can impact your entire day. When you feel like life is overwhelming as you look at your to-do list for the day, and your family is hanging on you with random needs, you can suddenly feel as if you’re sinking. If the morning rush is getting you down, we have a few ways you can combat the feeling of panic.

WHAT IS MORNING ANXIETY?

The term “morning anxiety” is not a medical term. It’s just part of the normal anxious feelings many people feel. The issue is that some people feel overwhelm that hits them like a wave in the morning. They stress about all that is going to happen during the day. They worry that only bad things will happen.

What if they cannot get everything done? What if they’re late to work? Or what if the sky falls?

Then this worry turns into more stress that leads you to think you just can’t even appropriately face the day. The good news is that you’re not alone. Sometimes your hormone levels are off. Sometimes you’re just simply stressed. At other times the way you sleep (or don’t sleep) can lead to higher anxiety levels. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help ease these stressful feelings.

13 WAYS TO COPE WITH MORNING ANXIETY

Mental health professionals suggest you try some of these natural methods to cope with morning anxiety.

Read more here…

Stress and Coping during Covid-19

From the CDC

Outbreaks can be stressful

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations

How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

Take care of yourself and your community

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Ways to cope with stress

Read more here

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

By Scott Berinato for  The Harvard Business Review

Some of the HBR edit staff met virtually the other day — a screen full of faces in a scene becoming more common everywhere. We talked about the content we’re commissioning in this harrowing time of a pandemic and how we can help people. But we also talked about how we were feeling. One colleague mentioned that what she felt was grief. Heads nodded in all the panes.

If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it. We turned to David Kessler for ideas on how to do that. Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of GriefKessler also has worked for a decade in a three-hospital system in Los Angeles. He served on their biohazards team. His volunteer work includes being an LAPD Specialist Reserve for traumatic events as well as having served on the Red Cross’s disaster services team. He is the founder of www.grief.com, which has over 5 million visits yearly from 167 countries.

Kessler shared his thoughts on why it’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how he believes we will find meaning in it. The conversation is lightly edited for clarity.

HBR: People are feeling any number of things right now. Is it right to call some of what they’re feeling grief?

Kessler: Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

You said we’re feeling more than one kind of grief?

Yes, we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

Read more here….

‘Just take a deep breath’: Why this class is learning mental health lessons

From CBC

Each student in this Winnipeg classroom has a kit full of mental health and mindfulness tools

 

In a middle-years classroom at Champlain School in Winnipeg, a group of students are sitting quietly on yoga mats. They’re ready for their next assignment.

At the front of the class their teacher, Catherine Siller, tells them what to do:

Anything that might be bothering us from the morning or the weekend or even from recess, I want you to focus on that energy right now. Take a deep breath in, and push that negative energy right out. – Catherine Siller

Siller is leading her Grade 5 and 6 class in a mindfulness meditation. All year long, this group of young students has been learning about the importance of caring for their mental well-being.

“What do we say?,” Siller asks as they finish the meditation.

“Namaste,” the class responds. 

Building mental health toolkits

The students have been getting help throughout the school year from a cardboard box. Each student has a “Thrival Kit“, which is filled with tools to help young people work on their mental health. 

Read more here, or listen to the story on CBC when you click here.

Q&A: How Digital Mental Health Tools Made a Difference for Hazard Independent Schools

From Ed Tech Magazine

Vivian Carter, the innovation coordinator at Hazard Independent Schools in Kentucky, explains how and why her rural district adopted a digital health tool for troubled students.

Digital health technology isn’t just for grown-ups. New tools can help connect children with the private and personalized resources they need to better understand their mental health and keep it in check.

For one school district, adopting an online mental and behavioral health system has been an effective tool to better help students in a rural community overcome barriers to learning, says Vivian Carter, innovation coordinator at Hazard Independent Schools in Eastern Kentucky.

In 2014, the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), which includes Hazard Independent Schools, received a Project Prevent grant from the Education Department that included funding to deploy and use the Ripple Effects online tool. Ripple Effects is a “Social Emotional Learning technology-based software system” that teachers can use to deliver behavior interventions and students can use to access personalized guidance and emotional resources. The technology is now being used in 70 of the 140 KVEC schools as a way to fill the gaps in mental health care for students and already has seen success in dropping the number of mental health and behavioral referrals.

Read more here…

One Sheridan school increased teacher retention and decreased students ‘falling through the cracks’ by adding mental health professionals

From Chalkbeat

At one school in the tiny district of Sheridan south of Denver, two social workers roam the hallways with handheld radios, responding to crisis after crisis.

It might be a student crying in class for unknown reasons, a disruptive student, or a fight. Less urgent requests, such as a check-in for a student who just seems to be having a rough day, usually come through email.

“It’s very much boots on the ground,” said Maggie Okoniewski, one of the social workers at Fort Logan Northgate.

The school has just under 600 students in grades third through eighth. The demographics are typical of the Sheridan school district. About one in four are identified as homeless — the highest rate for any school district in the state — and about 15 percent qualify as having special needs.

In between those calls, Okoniewski and her fellow social worker Danielle Watry check in on students they’ve identified as a priority. Every week the list includes about 60 students. In the last year, the list includes students from the heavily Hispanic population who have especially struggled with deportations or fears of separations, they said.

“And if I’m in the classroom, it’s almost certain that another student will flag us down,” Watry said.

Read more…

10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today

From Psychology Today

We’ve created an environment that fosters anxiety rather than resilience.

The New York Times recently published an article called, “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” The author chronicled several teens’ battle with anxiety over the course of a few years.

The article questioned why we’re seeing such a rise in anxiety among today’s youth. As a psychotherapist, college lecturer, and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, I agree that anxiety is a widespread issue among adolescents. It’s the most common reason people of all ages enter my therapy office.

Some young people are overachieving perfectionists with a crippling fear of failure. Others worry so much about what their peers think of them that they’re unable to function.

Some have endured rough circumstances throughout their young lives. But others have stable families, supportive parents, and plenty of resources.

I suspect the rise in anxiety reflects several societal changes and cultural shifts we’ve seen over the past couple of decades. Here are the top 10 reasons:

Read more here…

Anxiety disorders: Facts about the most common types

From the Kids Help Phone

Causes, signs and ways to cope with the seven most common anxiety disorders.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder makes you feel extremely uncomfortable around groups of people, like in a classroom or at a party. Social anxiety is a lot more extreme than shyness because it stops you from doing things you may enjoy. It can make you avoid places or settings where you may have to interact with others.

Causes

Social anxiety can come from a fear of being watched, judged or criticized by others. No one knows for sure why some people struggle with social anxiety and others don’t. It can be caused by:

  • Genetics: people in your family may experience social anxiety, too.
  • Past experience: social anxiety may develop after a stressful or embarrassing experience or over time.

Signs

Signs of social anxiety disorder include:

  • racing heart or a “skipping” heartbeat
  • trembling
  • sinking feeling
  • twitching or tense muscles
  • blushing
  • dizziness
  • stomach ache
  • sweating

If you’re struggling at school, skipping classes, having trouble making/keeping friends or are worried that you’re using alcohol and/or drugs to cope with your feelings, consider talking to someone you trust. Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.

How to cope

Here are some tips that may help with social anxiety disorder:

  • Read up: get more information on social anxiety. Understanding it can help you find ways to manage it.
  • Make a list: write down the “triggers” that affect your anxiety.
  • Give yourself credit: if you do something that makes you nervous or anxious, congratulate yourself on trying. Making the effort to conquer your fears is very brave.
  • Talk about it: talking gives you a chance to work on an issue with someone else, rather than taking it on by yourself.

Imagine this scenario

Let’s say you blushed when you asked a question in class. How bad would that be? What may happen as a result? How would you feel if you saw someone else make the same “mistake” as you? If they blushed, would you point and laugh? Would you think about it for the rest of the day or forget about it?

Remind yourself of this scenario when you’re feeling anxious. Chances are the embarrassment that feels like a huge deal to you will barely be noticed by others.

Remember, social anxiety disorder is treatable. You don’t have to face this forever. You can call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 if you need to talk.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is when you experience frequent panic attacks. Panic attacks can be triggered by stressful events, but sometimes they just happen.

Causes

Panic attacks are often related to specific phobias. They can also be caused by:

  • Genetics: people in your family may experience panic attacks, too.
  • Past experience: panic attacks may start after a stressful or scary experience.