Healthy Louisiana: Anxiety 101
At different times and to different degrees, all people experience anxiety in their lives. But how can you manage it? How can you keep your mind from racing nonstop, especially in times like now, amid the COVID-19 fallout?
Awareness and Acceptance
Jackie Ball, a psychologist with Ochsner Health System, said the first step to easing your anxiety is to acknowledge that it exists in the first place. She said once you acknowledge the anxiety is there and accept it, you will start to feel more in control. Plus, at stressful times, there’s nothing wrong with being anxious. That is 100 percent applicable to living through a global health crisis.
“It’s a completely appropriate response to be anxious right now,” Ball said.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, you should also limit your time on social media. This is always good advice, but it is especially true during events like the coronavirus outbreak. Yes, social media can sometimes provide useful information, but if you are already anxious about the current situation and you can go on a website where almost everyone is posting theories, opinions and feelings about it, that will only make things worse.
“Too much exposure to media will increase your anxiety,” said Ball.
This includes more conventional forms of media, too. You should try to remain informed, but just because cable news is available to you 24/7 does not mean you have to watch it for more than 30 minutes a day.
Maintain a Schedule
Even if you are unemployed or working from home, Ball said you can ease your anxiety by keeping to a set schedule. Find time for exercise. Eat healthy and get some sleep. If you have children, set schedules for them, too.
In times like these where people are encouraged to practice social distancing, Ball said therapy visits can be handled virtually. She said it’s important that people talk about the anxiety and pain they are feeling. For many, the current coronavirus situation and the uncertainty that comes with it will bring back unpleasant memories of the months following Hurricane Katrina.
“If we avoid our feelings and avoid talking about them, it will only increase the symptoms,” Ball said.
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