Are you struggling to overcome post-pandemic anxiety? If so, you are not alone and this is a very normal reaction. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease in the United States, the United Kingdom and around the world, and more and more people get vaccinated, you may be uncertain as to how to respond. But please know that you can and will overcome post-pandemic anxiety.
After spending over a year in lockdown, isolated from friends and family, you’re not even sure what normal is anymore. This is a healthy response to a very abnormal period of time.
While you miss what life was like before COVID, you could also be experiencing anxiety about leaving the quarantine world behind. Perhaps fear of contracting the virus continues to haunt you, even if you’ve been vaccinated and continue to take precautions, not knowing what is safe.
Feelings like these are normal after all of the turmoil and upheaval of the last year. Again, you’re not alone in having these thoughts and emotions. But you don’t have to remain trapped because of post-pandemic anxiety, either and with the right CBT tools, you can overcome post-pandemic anxiety and thrive again.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Can Help Post-pandemic Anxiety and Agoraphobia
Overcome Post-pandemic Anxiety
You tell yourself that meeting with loved ones is risky. You ruminate on worst-case scenarios. And your post-pandemic anxiety (and general anxiety) grows worse.
Overcome Post-pandemic Agoraphobia
If you’ve spent so much time at home in the last year that the thought of leaving terrifies you, you’re probably experiencing agoraphobia and specifically post-pandemic agoraphobia. While this condition of agoraphobia is its own separate diagnosis, it does fall within the anxiety spectrum. Post-pandemic agoraphobia is not an official diagnosis, but it is something that is very common and is an understandable response to struggling through Covid-19.
In a scary world, our homes often become our safe spaces. We feel sheltered, protected, and comfortable in them. You might be telling yourself that you won’t have to risk exposure to the virus if you stay at home. Your thoughts might even be venturing past COVID fears to other fears about leaving as well. Post-pandemic Agoraphobia is real and help is available.
Replacing Negative Thoughts
CBT, however, teaches you how to push up against these negative thoughts that accompany both post-pandemic anxiety and post-pandemic agoraphobia. You can question their validity and practice replacing the thoughts with statements that are more positive and realistic. The more you do it, the more confidence you gain.
CBT also encourages what is called desensitization through exposure to fears. In this process, you take small steps toward facing what you’re afraid of.
For example, if you’re afraid of leaving your home after COVID, you can start with the baby step of opening your front door and standing in the threshold to look out. As this becomes comfortable, challenge yourself to take another step forward until you reach the sidewalk.
As you do this, be sure to praise yourself. Make a list of each step you’ve conquered and refer to it when doubt strikes. You’ll have proof that you’ve made progress and are able to work toward your goal.
Another key component of CBT is learning how to build internal resources that fortify you against the effects of anxiety.
There are many types of resources you can build. They often include stress management techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and positive affirmations. Exercise and healthy nutrition are also vital resources for managing your anxiety symptoms.
These skills come in handy whether your anxiety and agoraphobia are related to entering a post-pandemic world or dealing with something else.
We’ve entered an entirely new world after living through a year of a pandemic. Experiencing fear and trepidation is not unusual in this situation.
As a CBT Therapist, I’ve seen firsthand how effective this approach is. During the pandemic, I’ve worked closely with many people to help them learn the CBT techniques that let them navigate their post-pandemic anxiety and post-pandemic agoraphobia. Online therapy is just as effective as in-person sessions, and will allow you to seek treatment even if you’re not ready to leave your home yet. If you would like to sign up for a test drive, please contact my Honolulu clinic or my London clinic.