The fear of the unknown has plagued mankind since the dawn of time. Scarcity of food and war amongst tribes were the predominant fears of survival. In today’s world, the fear of starving, of not being able to pay your mortgage or rent and fear of disappointment are amongst many concerns people have.
Take these fears and add them to the current (COVID-19) situation with people losing jobs, industries and companies collapsing because they can’t financially survive during lockdown and you get another pandemic – anxiety on a heightened scale.
Whilst the lockdown laws protect us from potential infection of COVID-19, there is a simmering pandemic hidden under the surface and it’s affecting people both mentally and physically.
Anxiety can overtake your life if you don’t control or treat it properly. Not only are medical professionals concerned with those who previous to COVID-19 suffered from it, they are also concerned for those that have developed anxiety during the pandemic.
A recent study by Swinburne University has found that people are up to five times more stressed and anxious than they were before the pandemic began.
Isolation is one factor that has increased feelings of anxiousness, as human beings are not predisposed to being on their own. This affects every one of us, but has especially taken a toll on the elderly who may not be so tech savvy when it comes to using communication tools such as Zoom, Skype and the like.
Even prior to the Agricultural Revolution that saw the development of settled communities and foundations that eventually lead to the Industrial Revolution, hunter gatherers roamed in groups for safety and a sense of belonging. We are not inclined to being so distant from each other; this leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which in turn can lead to anxiety and depression.
And this is what has happened; isolation has taken its toll on the mental health of Australian’s especially those living alone. Modifying the way in which we interact with each other during the pandemic is a lot harder than it seems. Hence, why the NSW government and other state governments in Australia have seen the need to ease restrictions slightly and allow interaction between others that are outside of the household.
For others, the uncertainty of job loss and pay cuts has caused anxiety. The forecast for the unemployment rate in Australia is sitting at about 10.8%, making the prediction the highest it has been since the levels of unemployment during the recession of the 1990s where the rate was just over 11%.
These are scary times for every one. Your actions and the way you respond to situations can be giveaways to how you are coping with the stresses being experienced.
The Australian Psychological Society has put together a range of helpful factsheets on what stress and anxiety indicators to look out for and tips to help combat those feelings.
Beyond Blue have also listed a number of signs that could signal that you are reacting to stress rather than managing it. These are:
- Excessive busyness
- Defensiveness / reactivity
- Excessive judgment and over-reaction
Recognising your reactions to situations is fundamental in managing the stress and anxiety you may feel. Plenty of breathing techniques, general exercise and grounding yourself to the here and now by focusing on what’s happening at the present moment are all ways to help alleviate those anxious feelings.
It’s no argument that these uncertain times will bring with them increased stresses and anxiety. What is essential to understand is that if you are facing anxious thoughts or feeling depressed you reach out to your doctor or any one of the mental health organisations that are there to support you.
What’s important to keep in mind is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and this will pass and life will improve again.