COVID-19 has caused uncertainty, strife, and plenty of anxiety for millions of people from all walks of life around the world.
With much of the future feeling unpredictable, it is no surprise that anxiety levels as well as mood disorders have skyrocketed among almost all age groups, including college students.
If you are a student who is struggling with COVID-19-related anxiety, here are a few tips, exercises, and treatments that may help you get the relief you need to maintain a semblance of a sense of normalcy in your everyday life.
Identify and Accept What You Are Feeling and Experiencing
One of the best ways to confront anxiety and other unpleasant emotions you may be feeling is to identify and accept them. That may like common sense, but many individuals try to avoid their anxieties, leading to explosive panic attacks and unresolved trauma.
If you are feeling anxious due to increased COVID-19 restrictions or the changes and interruptions to your daily life and routine, it is important to take a step back, identify, and address just what is causing you the most distress.
Journaling can be a highly effective tool for coping with anxiety and stress-related troubles, regardless of surrounding circumstances and accounting for external factors or stressors.
- Create a list of the emotions you typically feel daily using a journal.
- Keep track of your emotions on a scale of 1-10, along with a list of potential triggers that may be causing your feelings of heightened anxiety.
- Use your journal to track your diet, alcohol consumption, drug usage, socialization, work performance, and even your free time.
With extensive tracking of your behavioural patterns and actions, you can gain valuable insight into the overall causes and triggers that lead you sometimes to feel overwhelmed and extremely anxious and uncomfortable.
The Importance of Maintaining Structure and Routine
With the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions taking place, many schedules and routines have majorly disrupted. Humans require structure and routine to remain productive and thrive in today’s society, so it is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has had such a profound effect on the mental health of individuals of all ages, including students in high-pressure environments.
Getting Enough Rest
If you are stressed due to COVID-19 changes and risks, be sure to stick to a healthy sleep schedule.
- Sleep hygiene is one of the most important factors involved in the overall mental and emotional well-being of an individual. Without a proper sleep schedule and without getting adequate sleep each night, your brain is much more likely to remain on high alert, leading to panic attacks and heightened anxiety that feel uncontrollable.
- Avoid eating right before bed and stop consuming alcohol altogether if you are turning to alcohol to help alleviate stress-induced insomnia. Consuming alcohol at the moment may provide temporary relief from worries and unwanted anxiety, but it can quickly build a tolerance and dependency in the body.
- Steer clear of drugs or alcohol to cope with external stressors and inner turmoil affect sleep. You must address the causes to find true and long-lasting relief. Alcohol and some drugs are major contributors and causes of anxiety, especially the day after.
Turn to Support Groups
A support group is key to helping maintain a healthy and stable baseline, even in stressful and unpredictable times such as COVID-19. That doesn’t necessarily mean a formal support group, which may be confined to virtual meetings during COVID-19, but any social safety net: friends, family members, co-workers, and fellow students, even if you only know them online. Reach out to people that you can trust and rely on to share your anxieties, worries, and fears.
Having a support group around you during tough times can help you to feel a sense of relief while also alleviating anxieties that often stem from the fear of the unknown. When you have a positive and healthy support group, you have somewhere to turn to work through the anxiety you are feeling without fear of judgment or shame. A proper support group will also provide you with different and often valuable perspectives on issues.
Even with a support group, some people are more genetically predisposed to mental health issues, such as anxiety, substance use disorders, or both. If you are struggling with drug or alcohol use due to COVID-19, consider treatment options for alcoholism.
Decompress With a Tech Detox
Sometimes just following the news about the pandemic, coupled with politics, takes a toll on your mental health. You might want to consider decompressing from technology, social media, and screens altogether. Commit to a set number of hours a day or a week away from digital devices and take a tech detox. Make at least one day each week completely tech-free. That’s one way to reconnect with the world around you and work out your anxieties.
Take that now free time to spend with loved ones, exercise, or walk outdoors. Try a new hobby or activity. Read a book that has nothing to do with inflammatory, negative or depressing topics. Tech detoxes can significantly improve your overall mental clarity and emotional well-being.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic can feel stressful, scary, and at times, even entirely overwhelming, it is important to remember that the world has experienced and overcome pandemics and epidemics in the past.
By taking personal responsibility and precautions in your day-to-day life, you can move forward with plans as well as goals you envision for yourself in the future.
By understanding the root cause of your anxiety and working towards removing or minimizing personal triggers, you can begin to live life again without feeling paralyzed by emotion and fear.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.