Coping with the fear of COVID-19

COVID-19 has been with us for a long time now. And while the global state of emergency has ended and a lot of safety measures that were in place are no longer required, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a threat to our health and well-being. This is particularly true for people who may be at a higher risk of infection.

You may still have some fear or anxiety around COVID-19. This could include:

  • Fear of getting sick
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of loved ones getting sick
  • Fear of the virus impacting your brain injury
  • Fear of the unknown – COVID-19 changed a lot and there is still a lot that’s outside of our control

It’s been over three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a long time to experience these fears and anxiety. It’s also an intense situation, and it is normal to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. You may notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in your mood
  • Changes in your sleeping or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Fatigue
  • You get angry or impatient quickly

These symptoms are also common after brain injury, and can be made worse by stressful situations – such as a pandemic.

“Resilience is sometimes exhausting. I began noticing symptoms of anxiety and depression”

It’s important to mention that other people in your life may not share those fears right now because they want not feel COVID-19 is as big of a threat to them anymore – and that might make you feel anxious in a different way. You might feel pressure to ‘relax’ or be told to ‘not worry so much’. Or you might be saying those things to yourself because you see other people not worrying about COVID-19.

Coping with fear & anxiety related to COVID-19

It’s understandable to be anxious or scared of COVID-19 still – and it’s okay if you still feel that way. But it’s important to find ways to cope with those feelings so you can feel safe and take care of both your physical and mental health.

Build a routine you can control

Building a routine that you can control can help ease your fears about the things you can’t control. It can provide a sense of calm. It’s as simple as making breakfast, or setting a time limit on the computer, or even a regular afternoon walk.

Write down the current COVID-19 safety recommendations

“It has added a lot of anxiety to my life. It is stressful trying to remember all the rules”

The safety rules around COVID-19 changed a lot over the years, and it added another layer of stress for people, particularly as there are so many sources of information out there. Now that a lot of the safety measures have been lifted, some people are still a little uncertain about what they should do.

Your local health authority (or provincial government) regularly updates their safety guidelines, and they are the most reliable source for current information. If you aren’t sure whether the information you are looking at is accurate, ask a friend or family member to confirm the information with you.

If there are safety measures you still want to follow (such as wearing a mask), you absolutely can and should. While measures like masks are no longer required in a lot of places, they can still play a role in protecting the community.

Identify & confront what causes you stress

While you can’t control COVID-19, you can identify and manage other sources of stress in your life. When you start feeling stressed or fearful, think about what you were doing before you experienced those feelings.

Were you doing the dishes? Reading something? Scrolling through social media? By tracking what caused you fear or stress, you can either make sure to avoid it in the future, ask for help, or (if it’s something that must be done), pick a different time of the day to do it.

Here are some ways to support mental health.

Minimize your news & social media exposure

While it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on, it can be incredibly overwhelming to be in the online space (such as Facebook or Instagram), and negative posts can make it harder to focus on the positives in your day.

By setting limits on your social media time and restricting how much you read the news, you can give yourself breaks from reading/hearing about COVID-19.

Practice positive affirmations

It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts, and it’s hard to get it out of it. One way you can take care of yourself is practicing positive affirmations.

Positivity takes practice and patience. Here are some articles that can help you get started.

Reach out to your support people

Isolation is unfortunately a common occurrence after brain injury and during the pandemic. Even though social/physical distancing isn’t required in most cases anymore, you still may feel safer with a smaller social circle. But that can still get lonely sometimes. Reaching out regularly to friends, family members or caregivers through email, instant messaging, phone calls or video chats can help minimize those feelings.