An anxious mind: Surviving COVID-19

The COVID-19 Delta strain has impacted the lives of many Australian’s. In particular those fairing the worst from the brunt of this latest outbreak is Greater Sydney. With extended lockdowns and ever-changing health orders, what the future post lockdown looks like seems to be unknown.

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 the COVID-19 strain, there is a simmering pandemic hidden under the surface and it is 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.

An anxious mind: Surviving COVID-19

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 have seen the need to ease some restrictions slightly. The so called “buddy bubble” for singles means that they can now nominate one person to visit them. A small allowance for some peace of mind.

For others, the uncertainty of job loss and pay cuts has caused anxiety. Whilst, both federal and state governments have put measures in place to curb the financial stress of those that have been financially impacted by the latest COVID lockdowns (especially in NSW), the stress of not knowing what happens next can be mentally taxing. 

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:

  • Hyperarousal
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • 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.

 

 

This blog is an opinion only. Please seek medical advice if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

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