Concerned unhappy people feeling anxiety and fear about corona virus. Man and woman wearing face medical masks. Vector illustration for coronavirus panic attack and warning conceptsAnxiety is a product of stress and involves the experience of worrying. Periodic anxiety is an expected part of life. In fact, it’s healthy to experience anxiety from time to time. Feeling mildly anxious before a job interview helps us prepare and remain alert. However, anxiety can be experienced with increased intensity and impair our daily functioning, whether it be how we relate to loved ones, perform at work, or simply move through activities of daily living.

Anxiety prepares us for perceived or real danger, and stress is the response. Our brain reacts by sending a stress response throughout our body. We become more alert, our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increases, digestion slows down, and muscles tense in preparation for a fight-or-flight response. Some stress responses are short-term and provide a minor impact, while others are severe and are emotionally painful. Although stress has become an important response, prolonged stress and anxiety can cause something called traumatic stress.

a group of people wearing facemasks with professional work attire onExperiencing a national disaster such as the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a major disruption to daily living. Furthermore, it is likely to intensify existing feelings of stress and anxiety and spur the onset of new ones. This disaster is unique in that it is not a one-time event. It is ongoing. The pandemic has caused day-to-day changes in how we experience life. For some, this has meant losing their job, wearing a mask when leaving home, habitual handwashing and sanitizing, not being able to visit their friends and family…and even losing a loved one to the virus or related medical complications. Not everyone has the same response to the same traumatic event. Our genetic makeup, previous experiences, coping abilities, and support system have a tremendous influence over how we may experience such an event.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, include:

An illustration of a woman overwhelmed with her emotions

Emotional symptoms:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Feeling tense or jumpy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
A woman sitting in front of the computer showing symptoms of a headache

Physical symptoms:

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches
  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea

Common signs and symptoms of traumatic stress:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.

A man wearing a face mask sitting in public park while feeding birds with city building landscape silhouette vector illustrationThere is hope. Support, utilizing familiar coping skills and developing new ones, and treatment when required can ease these painful experiences. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) provides an excellent strategy named the Window of Tolerance (WoT) concept. The WoT concept acknowledges that there is a limited capacity to process or expose yourself to the difficult information around the trauma. Typically, this capacity is limited immediately after the traumatic event(s), which leads to numbness, panic, dissociation, intrusive thoughts, and simply feeling overwhelmed. Read more on how to expand your WoT and start feeling better.

Other coping strategies include:

  • Limiting media exposure
  • Breath slowly and deeply
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Mindfulness activities such as meditation
  • Accessing Social Support
  • Distractions
Concerned unhappy people feeling anxiety about Covid-19

Anxiety is a product of stress and involves the experience of worrying. Periodic anxiety is an expected part of life. In fact, it’s healthy to experience anxiety from time to time. Feeling mildly anxious before a job interview helps us prepare and remain alert. However, anxiety can be experienced with increased intensity and impair our daily functioning, whether it be how we relate to loved ones, perform at work, or simply move through activities of daily living.

Anxiety prepares us for perceived or real danger, and stress is the response. Our brain reacts by sending a stress response throughout our body. We become more alert, our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increases, digestion slows down, and muscles tense in preparation for a fight-or-flight response. Some stress responses are short-term and provide a minor impact, while others are severe and are emotionally painful. Although stress has become an important response, prolonged stress and anxiety can cause something called traumatic stress.

Group of people wearing face masks in professional work attire

Experiencing a national disaster such as the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a major disruption to daily living. Furthermore, it is likely to intensify existing feelings of stress and anxiety and spur the onset of new ones. This disaster is unique in that it is not a one-time event. It is ongoing. The pandemic has caused day-to-day changes in how we experience life. For some, this has meant losing their job, wearing a mask when leaving home, habitual handwashing and sanitizing, not being able to visit their friends and family…and even losing a loved one to the virus or related medical complications. Not everyone has the same response to the same traumatic event. Our genetic makeup, previous experiences, coping abilities, and support system have a tremendous influence over how we may experience such an event.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety (National Alliance on Mental Illness) include :

Woman sitting on a couch overwhelmed with her emotions

Emotional symptoms:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Feeling tense or jumpy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
Female suffering from headache due to anxiety

Physical symptoms:

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches
  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea

Common signs and symptoms of traumatic stress:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.

A man wearing a face mask sitting in public park while feeding birds with city building landscape silhouette vector illustration

There is hope. Support, utilizing familiar coping skills and developing new ones, and treatment when required can ease these painful experiences. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) provides an excellent strategy named the Window of Tolerance (WoT) concept. The WoT concept acknowledges that there is a limited capacity to process or expose yourself to the difficult information around the trauma. Typically, this capacity is limited immediately after the traumatic event(s), which leads to numbness, panic, dissociation, intrusive thoughts, and simply feeling overwhelmed. Read more on how to expand your WoT and start feeling better.

Other coping strategies include:

  • Limiting media exposure
  • Breath slowly and deeply
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Mindfulness activities such as meditation
  • Accessing Social Support
  • Distractions