How Can a Therapist Help You Return From Post COVID-19 Anxiety?
A common problem
This is an interesting question that will be talked about for years to come. How long? I don’t know but what can be said is that many people will be coming to terms with the intensity of COVID-19 and the amount of damage and casualties it’s caused. This will likely be one of the biggest upsets of our generation and will probably be told to future generations to come and rightly so. What are some of the lessons that can be derived from this catastrophe?
Being British, the issue I can’t understand is why Britain, being a developed nation, struggled with so many political dramas (David Cummings breaking social distancing rules) and a delirious need to quickly finish lockdown and re-open retail stores and why so little was done so late. I’ve heard from lots of people that they aren’t taking the whole virus thing seriously (because it’s just another flu) but then when you look at the damage it’s caused, you see it’s not a myth, it’s not another flu, it’s damaging reality. One of my work colleagues’ friend was corona-positive and died sadly. All this is too common. We have become desensitised to the whole situation most likely because such people haven’t directly been infected (touch wood it does not happen). But for the ones who have been infected, they only have sadness and trauma to deal with.
Perhaps speak to some of the front line NHS staff who have first hand accounts and perhaps you will see different. To be truthful, people have their own opinions of this crisis but note, this IS a crisis, jobs have been decimated, lots of businesses have closed in a matter of months. The last time I remember a financial catastrophe as sharp as this was the financial crisis of 2008. No fond memories sadly. The number of people on furlough schemes are 9.1 million as of June 14th 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1116638/uk-number-of-people-on-furlough/. Westminster however, is encouraging English residents only (Scots, Irish and Welsh excluded) to shop, spend and re-invigorate the economy. That’s a tall order given the lack of deep pockets people now have and the level of anxiety that’s present with constant healthcare measures being advised.
Let’s look at some of the reason people will likely have anxiety for time to come:
- People have lost their jobs, does more need to be said? Many are relying on the government for financial aid and what happens when that aid runs out? I do not aim to increase your anxiety but those are the facts. We run on finite money and resources so we need to be more cautious as to how money is spent in our daily lives. It is estimated that many will cut back on extra-curricular activities and this will leave people more stressed. Not a thought I want but sadly will, occur. Which goes back to the previous comment, encouraging spending when pockets are shallow will not do much for the economy. I wonder what finance minister ‘Rishi Sunak’ was thinking here? Surely other measures need to be taken in to account here too: VAT, taxes, public transport fees etc.
- Anxiety therefore is most likely to occur. By anxiety, I mean fear and worry; the hallmarks of anxiety. The fear will be regarding employment and finances and the worry will be about the same thing but only about the future i.e. will I able to pay the bills on time? What will happen to the mortgage suspensions after they resume? Will the government change their policies regarding frozen monthly payments? One way I suggest might help with curbing anxiety is to write down with a pen and paper some or all of your worries. Sometimes writing down can help us problem solve better and create possible solutions. Writing also acts as a form of expression i.e. expressing your emotions and thoughts rather than completely holding them inside you.
- One more thing would be to create short-term goals to plan and look forward to achieving. Right now, it’s not about long term goals as there is too much uncertainty in the world right now, but short term goals are feasible e.g. 2 weeks, 4 weeks etc. This will help you to manage your life better and you can make constant and consistent refinements over a shorter period of time. Planning ultimately reduces anxiety, especially if you’re an anxious person as it gives you some comfort of ‘certainty’ of the future.
Ultimately, we’re all in this together, there is no space for ‘pride’ and ‘self-centredness’. It’s our role to stand firm as a society and discuss the very issues that currently trouble us. If we address the challenges openly, we can create a positive atmosphere to engage and problem solve. Until next time!
Originally published and adapted from https://www.aamircbt.co.uk on June 4, 2020.