FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto, ON, February 23, 2023— Brenda Isen is an experienced psychotherapist and a clinical mental health coach with over 35 years of experience. Outlined in this article, Brenda provides insight into understanding what POST COVID-19 anxiety is, the common symptoms, and steps to cope and mend overall mental, physical and emotional health.
“We are just beginning to determine a better understanding of the impact that COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have been on our mental, emotional and physical well-being.” — Brenda Isen, Therapist and Clinical Mental Health Coach, 2022
For some, the COVID-19 protocols and the subsequent lockdowns were a welcome change for many from the stressful, overly fast-paced life that was previously deemed normal. COVID-19 allowed some to slow down and take safety at home. Today’s generation has previously faced the constant challenge of balancing career and family obligations and overly busy lives. Unintentionally, for some, COVID has assisted in slowing ourselves down to connect more positively with our mental health. For some, the pandemic was a ‘correction’ from the stress of modern living.
For most others, however, the pandemic was a hugely anxiety-provoking global event that has changed much of our outlooks and perspectives about work, family, health, and mental health.
Most people have experienced increased anxiety, including specifically:
- Increased health anxiety and feelings of distress about physical health
- Fears of dying and becoming severely unwell
- Uncertainty about the future
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
- Discomfort and unfamiliarity in socializing
- Increased concerns about germ and virus transmission, as well as others
Individuals who had pre-existing thoughts and feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma had another significant layer of negative triggers related to the pandemic to navigate through. Those impacted by anxious thoughts and feelings had already developed a sense of distress, fear and compromised well-being. We know that anxiety builds upon itself and can become magnified and distorted by each layer of worry. For those who have experienced trauma, these fears can grow and layer themselves in our minds exponentially. Given the gravity of world health issues that COVID brought, many of us have developed an increased sense of general unrest and uncertainty and a sense of Ambient Trauma.
“Ambient trauma is accumulated in everyday living and the exceptional events that are becoming increasingly daily. It isn’t necessarily associated with singular events but, rather, is related to pervasive environmental harms and threats, flowing chains of events, and their fated continuance.” — BlackFlang | Written By Vo Vo | October 21, 2022
For many: the ambient trauma experiences specific to COVID-19 were real and tangible. Such as loss of life, physical health, jobs, businesses, financial hardship, crises, and grief.
However, supportive psychotherapy can address these situations to help heal the pain and grief associated with these outcomes.
How has COVID-related anxiety socially manifested?
Many individuals describe a need for more confidence in their social skills after over two years of not socializing professionally and personally. Increased sensitivity to judgment and social criticism plague many. Many individuals describe a sense of social awkwardness and unfamiliarity about interacting, even those who were previously socially confident. For those who are naturally socially introverted, socializing became more daunting.
Clients in therapy sessions with Brenda Isen will talk about “not knowing” how to go on dates, make conversation, interact with others, or have a flow in communication. Individuals have become so insecure about their social skills that some become withdrawn, ‘mute,’ develop a stutter, hyperfocus on COVID closeness or proximity checks, or altogether avoid social interaction. With the constant changes in regulations, it has become too unclear what healthy social protocols should even be applied or adhered to.
Many have experienced family and interpersonal conflict, specifically about navigating the viruses that exist.
The news media feeds into our anxieties by sensationalizing and constantly reporting impending crises that must be faced. This has increased the fear of uncertainty, pushing more readers to avoid social gatherings. All these fears are normal reactions to our recently spent socially isolated and disconnected time.
However, Brenda Isen reassures that these skills can readily be relearned and regained. Given that most of us had already developed these feelings before COVID. It is essential to move away from the constant barrage of negative media reports about impending crises and get back to life in gradual, incremental steps.
How can they cope with COVID-19 Anxiety?
Brenda recommends talking with a trusted therapist and developing a healthy, supportive relationship with a mental health professional. Research has demonstrated that anxiety interventions and treatments can successfully diminish these anxious symptoms within short periods.
Practices of mindfulness, gratitude, and focusing on what we can predict and control can counteract our anxious responses. A recommendation from Brenda is requesting therapy sessions to address social and health-related fears, practice reusing social skills, and gain confidence with goals that can be easily achieved in a short-order talk therapy setting, either virtually or in person.
A helping professional can help in increasing a sense of well-being and peaceful thinking to guide the mind to move away from fear.
“When our brain moves towards joy, equanimity, love, compassion, and peace itself regulates. When we move towards fear, we dysregulate.” — Depak Chopra, TedTalk
Brenda also recommends specific therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Systematic Desensitization, and practicing Mindfulness that will reduce COVID anxiety. Openly discussing and addressing fears in therapy has a cathartic healing component. Reassuring competence about being heard in the expression and validating those feelings.
Dr. Emily Anhalt encourages us to honour the uncertainty we are feeling by working and feeling through our thoughts and related emotions. This is the fundamental goal of all successful therapy:
- Gaining a new perspective
- New ways of viewing life
- Developing healthy coping mechanisms is achievable for anyone
As we re-enter our social, work, and community-oriented worlds post-pandemic, additional support and guidance gained through health coaching and psychotherapy can benefit everyone.
This article was written with the expertise of Brenda Isen.
Brenda Isen, M.S.W., R.S.W. has been an experienced therapist and clinical mental health coach for more than 35 years that focuses on anxiety and mental health.
For more information on COVID-19 anxiety, ambient trauma, or other conditions, please reach out to [email protected].
Brenda Isen, M.S.W., R.S.W.
3335 Yonge St. Suite 406, Toronto, On M2N 2M1