TAMPA — Mental health experts say right now people are experiencing pandemic anxiety for a lot of different reasons.
“There’s a new environment and a new society we’re going to have to reengage with and that brings a lot of anxiety,” said Tampa Psychologist Dr. Sheriece Sadberry.
Some of the reasons for recent anxiety include worrying about the effectiveness of vaccines, fears over new virus strains, and many people are concerned about their children under 16 who still can’t get vaccinated.
“There’s also this sense of that, 'I’m adapting to change' and even though human beings can be very adaptable, we don’t necessarily like things to change,” said Sadberry.
She says in some ways people have already adjusted to pandemic life, whether they liked it or not, and the idea that things will soon change is stressful.
“So now they’re thinking about 'how do I reintegrate back into society? How do I reengage with people I haven’t been around or haven’t seen or haven’t had to interact with all this time,'” said Sadberry.
Some people enjoy working from home, it may suit their personalities more and they don’t want to go back to work.
There are also those who are having a hard time seeing crowds again, and people not wearing masks, relaxing those public health measures.
“What I tell people to do is take a step back and go 'okay what is going on for me right now? What am I noticing that’s different that might be triggering this,'” said Sadberry.
If you’re unsure if you’re experiencing anxiety, Sadberry says there are two different aspects mental health experts look at when determining anxiousness: mental and physiological.
- Constant worrying
- Thinking about the same things a lot
- Questioning things
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart racing
- Chest tightness
- Sweaty palms
Sadbery says one of the quickest ways to calm down is to focus on your breathing.
“If you calm your breath down to a 5 to 7 second inhale and a 5 to 7 second exhale, so a really slow deep breathing that becomes rhythmic, then your body will respond to that,” said Sadberry.
As we slowly make adjustments in our lives, experts suggest scheduling things into your routine to take care of yourself and de-stress like reading book, taking a bath, or exercising.
“Being able to identify where you can put that into your work week, or your week in general as your adjusting back so you’re not losing sight of taking care of yourself,” said Sadberry.