Coronavirus: How To Deal With Anxiety And Panic In 7 Steps

Coronavirus: How To Deal With Anxiety And Panic In 7 Steps

Anxiety in a crisis is normal and serves as a signaling function. The strength of anxiety depends on the individual characteristics of the person. It's important to deal with anxiety without trying to control it.

Anxiety and panic attacks may look and feel differently. Some people may feel anxious and describe physical symptoms such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat. Others may describe an emotional reaction, such as anxiety or fear.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, fear, tension, worries that something bad is about to happen. We can also associate anxiety with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, cold hands, tremors, inability to concentrate. Reaction to stressful events is the normal human experience. Extremely stressful situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic can cause anxiety and interfere with a normal existence.

What are Panic Attacks?

Someone can feel a panic attack as a sudden increase in anxiety with pronounced physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, sweating, tremors, chest pain, or discomfort. Known reasons can cause panic attacks, and sometimes it appears for no reason.

7 Steps to Overcome a Panic Attack

Step 1. It is Important to Recognize Anxiety

You need to understand that your reaction is normal

My first signs of anxiety-depressive disorder appeared at sixteen. The first severe episode of the disorder occurred in 2012. I am still trying to understand what triggered my illness. Most likely, the matter is indifferent factors - personality traits (I am a very closed person), character traits (responsibility and perfectionism). An anxious person like me freaks out over insignificant reasons and things that haven’t happened yet. For instance, they sent me to a press conference. I could not sleep, because I worried that I would not cope with the task. Although I have attended such events, and I winded myself up by presenting scenarios with a sad end. I felt anxious because of ordinary events like queuing at the checkout, traveling by public transport, going to the clinic. You live in a state of continuous stress, and cannot “pull yourself together”.

What helped me? My first step was the realization of my anxiety. Yes, I have it and it is normal.

Step 2. The Past Replaces the Present and the Future

It is difficult for us to perceive the ongoing changes as a new situation. Therefore, a general or personal crisis throws us into a familiar state of the past. You need to analyze the level of the fall. Find facts that distinguish between distinct realities - past and present.

It is important to understand that for any loss, this is not a return to the past. And remember that you are not a helpless child.

Step 3. Recognizing Your Fears

The triad of fears. Pandemic - quarantine - economic crisis gives rise to a triad of fears: death, isolation, hunger. Which one is closer to you?

Step 4. Waves of Life

Our life is subject to small and large waves of success and failure. We condemn ourselves to suffer if we identify with the wave of success and failure. It is important for us to feel like a sea of consciousness.

Step 5. Fear of Isolation

The isolation has deprived us of our main response to anxiety - flight. It scares us to abandon the usual protection. We are scared to be with ourselves and our loved ones. It is important to answer the question - what are we afraid to face inside ourselves? Perhaps closeness and depth?

Step 6. The Illusion of Stability

We love stability and dislike it when this stability is destroyed. But stability is always an illusion. We doom ourselves to suffering, clinging to the illusion of stability. We take refuge from indestructible concepts and objects.

Step 7. Psycho-Emotional State

"What you can take calmly no longer controls you," - Confucius once said.

As deeply as we are in panic, the body is overwhelmed with stress hormones. It suppresses the immune system. Psychological stress disrupts immune regulation through increased levels of cytokines. Various mindfulness techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, etc. reduce stress levels.

Self-Diagnosis: How to Calculate Your Level of Anxiety

In order to assess your level of anxiety, you can use a Beck questionnaire. It will take a few minutes to fill out and calculate the results.

Instruction: This list contains the most common symptoms of anxiety. Please review each item carefully. Mark how worried you have been with each of these symptoms over the past week by checking the column on the right.


Didn't bother at all

(0 points)

Slightly. Didn't bother me too much

(1 points)

Moderately. It was unpleasant, but I could bear it.

(2 points)

I could hardly stand it

(3 points)

1. Feeling of numbness or tingling in the body





2. Feeling hot





3. Trembling legs





4. Inability to relax





5. Fear that the worst will happen





6. Dizziness or lightheadedness in the head





7. Accelerated heartbeat





8. Instability





9. Feeling of terror





10. Nervousness





11. Trembling hands





12. Feeling of suffocation





13. Unsteadiness of gait





14. Fear of losing control





15. Shortness of breath





16. Fear of death





17. Fright





18. Gastrointestinal Disorders





19. Fainting





20. Flushing of the face





21. Increased perspiration (not related to heat)





The calculation is made by summing up the points for all points of the scale:

·        values ​​up to and including 21 points indicate a minor level of anxiety;

·        values ​​from 22 to 35 points mean average severity of anxiety;

·        values ​​above 36 points (with a maximum of 63 points) indicate very high anxiety.

4 Exercises You Can Do by Yourself

If you feel very anxious right now, you can do the following exercises: 

1. Exercise "Reflection and Normalization" (work with an empty chair)

Sit down on a chair and share “virus/death/crisis/hunger” anxiety with an empty chair. Move to another chair, completely relax, exhaling anxiety on a long exhalation. We do not intensify the anxiety but absorb it into ourselves, accepting these feelings. Exhale and repeat in a calm tone the same thing that was said on that chair. We also normalize anxiety - yes, this feeling is normal in these circumstances. Do this several times and track changes.

2. Exercise "Fantasy about anxiety"

Unleash in your imagination the worst anxiety fantasy. It is important to give place to this anxiety in the embodiment of the terrible fantasy. Then try to estimate the probability of this outcome of your anxious fantasy as a percentage. This is not always effective and may not convince us. Think of how you will cope, how life itself will continue "without me." More often, the fantasy that we cannot cope scares us more. In fact, people are amazingly ready to manage everything!

3. Exercise "Influence of the Past" 

Ask yourself the following questions:

·         What associations from the past does modern anxiety evoke?

·         What traumatic situation is this memory associated with?

·         How different is the current situation from the past?

4. Exercise "Sea and Wave of Consciousness"

Imagine that you are a sea, an endless sea of ​​consciousness. Look at the waves on the surface of this sea, they rise and fall. Each wave is the rise and fall of a dream, an undertaking. You can recognize the waves of your life, the waves of the country and the world. But your center is in the center of the sea, the excitement does not affect your depth. Your essence is always in this depth, in the center of the ocean of consciousness. You do not deny the anxiety, but it does not take hold of you. The deeper you have gone into the secret of yourself and the world, the less the waves of anxiety affect you.

My Experience 

I can say that my anxiety drove me to the point that I went for a walk alone and cried from time to time. In bad moments, I listened to Mac Miller's music and calmed down a little, he had a relaxing effect on me. I could not be at home, but outside the house too. The critical moment was when I caught myself thinking that I understood the state when people decide to do suicide. I just didn't understand them before, but now I do. Don't get me wrong, I love life, but dark thoughts sometimes appeared.

I decided that it was time to fulfill my dream and go abroad. I went to Germany alone, and this trip brought me out of my anxious state. It got to the point that when signs of anxiety appeared, I started looking at tickets for a new trip. Sometimes I was covered with worries at midnight and I looked at the tickets for the morning to leave for a couple of days. I realized that this is an expensive way to escape from problems. My main problem is myself. I cannot run away from myself.

Bio: Hannah Butler works as an essay writer in WriteMyPapers4Me writing company. She likes sharing her experience in the form of articles in such spheres as Psychology and Wellness. In her free time, Hannah enjoys rock climbing and bike riding.

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