The COVID Scaries - yes, it is the new Sunday Scaries and it is real. You feel a slight sore throat, a tinge of a headache, or a body ache and you begin to panic. You are preoccupied with getting sick, keeping clean, and knowing if those around you are also safe and protected. The threat that COVD-19 brought to our world is heartbreaking, but the threat that COVID-19 brought to our mental state is just as deprecating. What we went through due to COVID-19 is absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt- traumatic. Now, with all traumas, everyone handles them differently. The same upsetting incident can happen to two different people, but each individual comes out of the incident differently- some move on seamlessly and others are deeply affected by the incident (and both reactions are okay). However, those who were not deeply or emotionally affected by COVID likely are not feeling any additional anxiety or extra worries. If you are someone who noticed an increase of anxiety and preoccupation with your health since the pandemic then this is the read for you- let's go through a therapeutic tool I like to call "Is it COVID or Anxiety?" we can use to help us cope.
1. Play a Game: Is it COVID or Anxiety?
The next time you feel somatic (a fancy word for bodily) ache or discomfort and associate this symptom with possible COVID I want you to catch yourself before this thought/ worry manifests into something bigger. Mentally ask yourself, "Is it COVID or Anxiety?", most likely it is just anxiety. Remember, that anxiety usually presents itself with somatic symptoms such as body aches, headaches, sweating, feeling clammy, chest pains, lightheaded and fatigued along with many other bodily sensations and discomforts. Many of these anxiety-related symptoms are also associated with COVID, so just because you are feeling a certain bodily sensation does not necessarily mean it is COVID. Notice that if the symptoms go away with medication or only last at best a few hours then you are likely in the clear. Also notice that if the symptom does not worsen you are once again likely in the clear. The mind and the power of anxiety are quite fascinating. If you have a preoccupation with feeling ill, then you will feel ill. Let's say you are feeling chest pains. If you place your focus on the chest pain rather than allow your thoughts to move elsewhere then the chest pain will persist and perhaps even worsen; mind you this pain is not at all physical health related, but mental health related because it is the power of anxiety.