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Anxiety Management Tips and Resources for Covid-19
Although we are coming back together in many ways, this Covid experience has changed us. So much about gathering and socializing feels different. It may not be possible to return to what life felt like before the pandemic, but this may be an opportunity to build something new.
Here are some tips to help ease your re-entry into coming to campus in person.
- Create healthy boundaries. After over a year having most of our contact online, we have grown accustomed to blurred boundaries between our home, work and school life. More in-person contact allows us to recreate healthy boundaries between these different activities. Think about the routines and structures that you may have put on pause during the pandemic. What used to work well for you? How do you want to re-establish your boundaries?
- Feeling anxious about this transition is normal. "Do I have my mask?" "How many people will be there?" "Does this feel safe?" There are certain questions we have grown used to asking ourselves - and that will still be true for a while. Accept that this will be an ongoing adjustment. Acknowledge the uncertainty that still exists in the world, and focus on what you can control.
- Move at your own pace, when you can. We all have different reactions to this new normal. If you feel uncomfortable or anxious about certain activities or settings, be willing to say no, or not yet. Give yourself grace as you adjust to a different relationship to time - commuting, needing transition time between appointments, etc. Remember to also extend grace and acceptance to others who may be handling re-entry differently.
- Try a positive reframe. Transitions are opportunities to reflect, and to reassess. What has been working well for you? What do you want to keep doing? For example, maybe your schedule is more open, you have spent more time with loved ones, or developed new hobbies. What are the things you’re looking forward to about re-entry? Appreciate things that you might have taken for granted in the past, such as seeing friends and family in person.
- Engage in activities you enjoy. We've all missed some activities over the past year. What are you looking forward to adding back into your schedule? Meeting up with friends at a restaurant? Going for a hike? Reconnecting with a hobby? It’s important to remember, you only have to do activities you’re comfortable with – don’t jump back into things too quickly. If you try something new and find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a step back.
- Make extra time for self-care. Times of higher stress require us to be more intentional about taking care of ourselves - and every transition is stressful. Remember basic healthy coping strategies such as developing a routine, spending time outside, exercising, getting enough sleep, eating regularly and staying hydrated, and focusing on things other than this disease.
- Notice when you are feeling anxious, and take small steps to regulate yourself, such as:
- Feel your feet on the ground. Notice wherever your body is in contact with something supported. If it feels difficult to notice points of grounding, use hands to create intentional points of pressure (e.g. gently squeeze the forearms, upper arm and shoulders).
- Find the rhythm of your breath. First just noticing the inhale, the exhale and the pause between breaths. If there is tightness in the chest, stay with noticing. If there is room, consider taking a deep breath in, as if you were smelling a delicious flower. Slowly exhale, as if you were blowing out a candle. Calming your breath can interrupt the physiological spiral of anxiety.
- Using all of your senses, notice one thing you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Intentionally bringing your awareness into the present moment and grounding yourself in your body also counteracts anxious thought cycles.
- Repeat a calming phrase to yourself, such as, “I’m not going to let anxiety control me,” or, “I can handle this.”
- Other resources for anxiety and stress management:
- Our Online Wellness Resources include a long list of podcasts, apps, and websites that can be helpful in maintaining mental wellness in different areas, and for different populations.
- Counseling Services is providing both telehealth and in person appointments for registered students at our Hayward and Housing clinics. Go to https://health.csueastbay.edu to schedule an appointment. If you can’t find an appointment in the near future and need to speak with someone sooner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 885-3735.
- Access phone crisis support if needed. The SHCS main number connects with a crisis phone line after hours - (510) 885-3735, option 2. Additional resources are available on our Crisis Support webpage.
For a video discussion of these tips, here are counselors Erin Harrell, Psy.D and Andy Spivack, MSW discussing Coming Back to "Normal."