Anxiety, Loneliness and Stress: the enemies of mental health
The problems are not new, but the pandemic has exposed them even more, and today many people are experiencing symptoms related to anxiety, loneliness and stress. Seeking out a health care professional who offers online support may be the solution at a time when shutting down is the order of the day.
Since the appearance of the covid-19 pandemic, there have been many daily alerts about its impact on the mental health of people. In particular, the increase in cases of anxiety, loneliness and stress stands out and the reasons are easy to find: from the number of daily deaths caused by the infection to the socio-economic crisis, and the repercussions that isolation causes at the relational, emotional and even professional level.
In a document produced on the subject, the OPP drew attention to the issue, stressing that “about half of the people felt moderate or severe psychological impacts and more than 70% of those who were in isolation present psychological suffering”.. The same report states that “the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress has increased significantly”, and that “children and adolescents report more worry, frustration, anxiety, agitation and sadness”.
Among the justifications for this disturbing picture, the OPP points to issues such as “grief over the loss of loved ones, despair over unemployment and economic losses, physical isolation from family and friends, the demands of altered family dynamics, constant worry, fear, and uncertainty about the future.” as well as “changes in our daily habits that may also pose risks to our psychological health and well-being, such as decreased quality of sleep and physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, or increased exposure to screens or the Internet.”
Although some time has passed since the onset of the crisis and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have even been developed, the truth is that “the consequences of covid-19 on psychological health and well-being are far from over.” predict the paper’s authors, who believe that “we will see their expected worsening in the coming months.” The OPP points out that, “before the pandemic, we knew that more than one in five persons had suffered, or were suffering, from a psychological health problem”.Whereas “the pandemic exposed and highlighted an already known need: the need to take care of oneself and one’s psychological health and the need for accessible and contingent responses to people’s problems and difficulties.”.
How do I know if Im anxiety? Attention to symptoms
In view of the current worrying situation, it is therefore important for everyone to be attentive to their health – not only physical, but also psychological – and to do everything possible to prevent anxiety, stress and loneliness. While some symptoms are common and perfectly normal in response to anxiety-provoking and stressful situations such as those we are currently experiencing, professional help should be sought if these signs persist for more than two weeks. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Anxiety, agitation, fear;
- Insomnia or other sleep alterations;
- Nightmares or recurring dreams;
- Persistent intrusive thoughts;
- Gastrointestinal changes;
- Accelerated heart rate;
- Excessive and recurrent concern about pandemic;
- Sadness, easy crying, lack of hope;
- Hypervigilance, reactivity;
- Irritability, anger, resentment, conflicts with friends and family;
- Excessive criticism, blaming others;
- Guilt, questioning;
- Social isolation (beyond taxation);
- Increased alcohol, drug or substance use;
- Misuse of online gambling or betting as a form of escape;
- Difficulty making decisions;
- Difficulty in setting priorities;
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Decreased immune response.
What are 5 signs you have anxiety?
1. Everything is a threat
Anyone who has received a positive answer from an expert to the question “how do I know if I have an anxiety disorder” already knows this: the basic idea is that everything represents a potential danger that must be avoided.
In times like these, empathy is needed. After all, even if you know that there is no such serious threat, the anxious person really believes that he can even die in front of him, and his mind is completely populated with phrases of anxiety.
2. Exaggerated fear and worry
It is so much fear and worry that the individual becomes desperate and loses control of their concentration. He is constantly busy predicting in detail the worst possible outcomes for a situation and really sticks to it.
Hands, arms, legs and feet do not stop. It’s that excitement before a test, for example, but that doesn’t go away once the task is done. Indeed, the worry of not being able to pass the test evolves, after having delivered it, towards the fear of having a bad grade. In the most severe cases, the person cannot even complete the test.
The tension is so great that the idea of relaxing is even more stressful. It’s like it’s easier to constantly feel tense than to let go to feel good and risk going back to where you started. That is to say, the person flees the contrast of feelings.
5. Affected sleep
So much anxiety could not fail to affect the quality of sleep. It’s no surprise that it even keeps someone awake. There are so many thoughts in your head and possibilities that everything will go wrong, that sleep yields to the constant task of worrying about what hasn’t even happened yet – if it can ever happen.
How do you calm anxiety?
Both for those who suffer from the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and for those who are mildly anxious, adopting anxiety control mechanisms is imperative. After all, who likes to feel all the negative feelings that come with it?
The key to making advice really work is repetition. Trying it once is not enough and won’t make anxiety miraculously go away. You need to build positive habits through brain rehabilitation.
This may sound complicated, but it is far from it! Our tips can be quickly and easily integrated into your daily life. Check them out below.
Practice deep breathing
Breathing deeply is an old advice. When we breathe in air and exhale slowly, our brain understands that we can (and should) relax. The effect is almost immediate.
However, it can be difficult to combat wheezing in stressful situations or heightened anger, even when breathing deeply. This is because deep breathing is also a workout. It becomes more effective with practice time. It only takes two minutes of training a day for your body to learn to calm down immediately.
Do relaxation techniques
After a busy day at work, find some relaxing music, turn off your bedroom lights (if you prefer), and lie down comfortably. Don’t think about work, about problems, about waiting. Focus only on your breathing and the music. Preferably use headphones to deepen the relaxation. By repeating this short relaxation session daily, you will soon feel less anxious.
This may seem like a strange practice at first, especially if you’re used to coming home and going straight to the TV. However, moments of silence like this are important for our mental health.
Practice physical activities
It is more than confirmed that moving the body at least three times a week helps to control anxiety, in addition to acting as a prevention and complementary treatment of mental disorders. Physical activity releases the hormones of happiness (dopamine, endorphin and serotonin), promoting well-being and physical disposition for the rest of the day.
If you’re not used to it, fine. Find an activity that you think you enjoy and stick to it for the first few days.
Nurture good thoughts
Have you ever noticed that when we remember something embarrassing, we feel ashamed again? Or when we imagine a positive situation, our enthusiasm suddenly grows? Our thoughts have a great influence on our feelings and our actions. Therefore, many mental disorders share the symptom of bad or disastrous thoughts.
It turns out that we can change our thoughts whenever we want. We just need to start paying more attention to them. When you feel the need to create a doomsday scenario about a difficult situation, visualize the exact opposite.
Right after waking up, think of pleasant things, revisit happy memories, or list your good qualities. Play to see the future and imagine good surprises throughout your day. In this way, you learn to expel bad thoughts that do not help you at all.
Organize your day
Another way to control anxiety is to plan your day in advance. Organize your chores and appointments in an easy-to-understand way. It can be on a calendar, on a list, on a mobile app or on a wall. This way you reduce the unpredictability and build the confidence to get on with the day.
But, here’s a warning: don’t get angry or despair in the face of the unexpected. They are completely normal. Our plans are not always followed to the letter.
Have a hobby
Occupy your mind with a fun activity. If you don’t know your passion, this trick is even better because you can venture into various hobbies until you find it! The list of possibilities is endless: musical instrument, language, reading, sport or a skill like cooking or drawing.
Although deep breathing has similar effects to meditation, the practice is equally important for calming the mind and body. The first attempts are tricky. Many are still not accustomed to silencing the mind.
However, by taking just five minutes to meditate, you quickly learn to focus only on the sounds, your body, and your breath.
Besides having the power to bring more tranquility into our lives, meditation helps improve emotional intelligence. With a calm mind, we see situations more clearly and we do not let ourselves be shaken by confrontations or prejudices.
Be more social
To be more social, you don’t have to go clubbing every night. Scheduling more lunches, coffees, or happy hours with loved ones is enough to satisfy the need for socialization. Being with the one we love makes us immediately happy and in a good mood.
With the hectic pace of everyday life, it’s easy to succumb to the urge to rest at home or cancel plans with friends. Fight against him!
One of the characteristics of anxiety is pessimism. When anxious, people quickly focus only on the negative side. To combat this symptom, look for the best in every situation and cultivate optimism. If your way of seeing life is full of difficulties, perrengues and stress, transform it!
You can also use this technique during an anxiety attack, shifting the focus of your apprehension to something more pleasant.
The quality of our sleep reflects on our mood and disposition. Sleeping well is important for your overall health, so create a nightly ritual to ward off emotional and physical wear and tear. You can have tea, do some light reading, or listen to a relaxing audio.
Try to get away from electronic devices before going to sleep. Television and cell phones are unnecessary bedtime stimuli. Another tip is not to think about tomorrow. Leave to deal with the outstanding issues of the week at the right time, that is, after sunrise.
Search for online assistance – an option
Given the context of confinement in which one lives, it is possible that some people are faced with the need to seek psychological support from specialized professionals, but due to the fear and insecurity resulting from the coronavirus, they end up not doing so. One of the solutions adopted is online consultation, somewhat similar to what has been put into practice in other dimensions, from distance learning to teleworking.
The use of online psychological and/or psychotherapy consultations was already practiced before the pandemic and several scientific studies show that their effectiveness is comparable to that of face-to-face consultations. For example, in a meta-analysis published in 2018 in the journal . Journal for Anxiety Disorders concluded that computer therapy for anxiety and depression is effective, acceptable, and practical health care. Similar results have been found by other researchers, including more recent research, such as that published in the article Journal of American College Health, in 2020, which concluded that online counseling, through video and synchronous sessions, was a viable hypothesis for treating students with anxiety.
Benefits of remote counseling
Online consultations with health professionals who specialize in treating mental health problems, such as psychologists or psychotherapists, have several advantages:
Convenience – Turning on a computer at the scheduled time is easier and more desirable for many people – especially those in a more fragile and vulnerable emotional state or suffering from social anxiety – than having to go somewhere, deal with all that entails, namely the challenge of traffic, parking, or public transportation, and then having to start all over again at the end of the session to get home.
Comfort – It can be easier to talk about difficult emotional issues in a warm, familiar environment, which is possible in an online consultation, which the person accesses from the comfort of their own home and may even be accompanied by their pet.
Facilitates logistics – Finding time in the schedule, asking someone to take care of the kids during the session, or thinking about travel logistics. There are many reasons why some people forgo seeking help, but all of these aspects become less relevant when the session is online and can easily accommodate each person’s actual availability.
A broader range of services – People living in rural areas or with few quality mental health services find online counselling a way around this constraint.
Privacy – Some people prefer solutions that protect them from the view of others seeking psychological help, namely when they enter an office or remain in a waiting room.
All of these advantages are sufficient to overcome some of the disadvantages that may be experienced, namely the lack of personal contact, and may even be the solution to support many people who are experiencing moments of suffering due to the crisis triggered by the pandemic. AdvanceCare offers Online Psychology Programs with personalized follow-up by a psychologist via video call, in order to provide adequate support to each individual case.