Here are some strategies for dealing with pandemic anxiety

Our group practice in Washington D.C is experiencing coronavirus fears among patients as well as among friends and family. The latest polls indicate that nearly 33% of Americans believe the crisis is seriously affecting their mental well-being. Hotlines for psychological concerns have been overloaded.

Many people are aware that stomach pain, an elevated heart rate, aching muscles, and other physical symptoms of anxiety signal a problem. The majority of people are unaware, however, that sleep problems, forgetfulness, and relationship issues can also be connected to anxiety. Let’s look at four related problems and how to deal with them.

By keeping a consistent bedtime, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, keeping bedroom clocks out of view, and exercising regularly, insomnia and other sleep difficulties can be moderated. As well as limiting your use of smart phones, laptops, and other screens before going to bed, keep your sleeping space dark, quiet, and cool.

Having trouble concentrating may be due to telework, helping kids with their homework, and other tasks. Make a list of the most important issues and determine a specific time to take care of each one. Make sure you take breaks between tasks. During the day, set aside a few specific times to check the news; your daily time for this should not exceed an hour.

It is possible that anxiety saps your working memory, required for many tasks, so you have trouble remembering important information. Gerontologist Aleksandra Parpura said that relaxing can help retain memory, especially if the activity engages the parasympathetic nervous system. Engaging in yoga and mindfulness are examples of such activities.

Anxiety can also fuel anger and irritability. Whenever you’re feeling stressed, you need to be able to “catch” yourself before you react. Afterward, you may want to take some time away from others and use breathing exercises or a vigorous workout to calm yourself.

If you choose to discuss your anxiety with others, consider laying bare your vulnerability; people will respond to this better than anger. Listening to each other is essential in these difficult times because we can only do so much.