Covid anxiety and health anxiety have made a dramatic repeat appearance in my clinic over the past six months. But we are the lucky ones here on the Sunshine Coast, having escaped it for so much longer than the cities. Elsewhere my colleagues have been managing client anxiety related to Covid and the broader health scare, since the virus started.
The thing about Covid is that the constant media attention has instilled a kind of panic for many people, creating a very specific Covid anxiety. However for those with existing health anxiety, Covid has just added heat to an already already raging fire. Covid anxiety and health anxiety go hand in hand. but at the end of the day, it is just anxiety.
What is behind Covid anxiety and health anxiety?
Anxiety is the the expectation of fear. Fear happens during an event, while anxiety happens in anticipation of that event. Then, if the event happens again, your fear is heightened because of the anticipation, and your anticipation (anxiety) is heightened also. Say you are afraid of vomiting in public. I have seen many people with this phobia. Their anxiety around vomiting makes them even more prone to actually vomiting, because one of the more common side effects of anxiety is nausea.
People experience anxiety symptoms in different ways. Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
These are just some.
How to Best Manage Covid Anxiety and Health Anxiety
With any type of anxiety, there are techniques that I use to change your response to certain triggers. Some of these are hypnotic and others use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) based. With health anxieties the underlying fear is around safety. These anxieties are essentially phobias. Getting you to feel safe, on an unconscious level, is the name of the game.
Strategies I use for this type of anxiety include:
- preparation planning
- filtering information
- curbing your Google searching
- being present
- manipulating negative thoughts
- focusing on resilience through building health
- connecting with others.
And of course, many of these strategies are supported with hypnotic suggestion and NLP, while we take a more conversational approach with others.
It is easy to lose control, but it can also be easy to get it back. Train your brain to do less anxiety, and start enjoying life again.