Kicking off the Coping with COVID-19 Series

This is Coping with COVID-19, a weekly series of blog posts and videos dedicated to sharing tips for coping with stress and anxiety during the coronavirus crisis. Your mental health matters now more than ever.

You have probably read a dozen articles over the past few weeks about how to manage your anxiety but here you are reading another one because, well, anxiety, right? Here are few unique ideas that can add to what you already know but the most important thing is to keep trying until you find some tools that work for you.

First, however, it is important to recognize that feeling anxious right now is normal. In fact, if you don’t feel any anxiety right now that may suggest a higher level of denial than is desirable right now. We all need some anxiety these days because we need to do some difficult and unpleasant things like stay socially distant, wash our hands an incredible number of times every day and try not to touch our faces, to mention a few. In other words, an appropriately elevated amount of anxiety is normal and can help keep us safe.

Of course, many of us passed the “appropriate” level of anxiety a while ago. Instead, we’re having that “fight or flight” feeling multiple times a day. However, that feeling is more accurately described as “fight, flight or freeze.” In our current situation, freezing is the more likely response to our anxiety since we can’t run away from the danger we’re facing, and we can’t fight our microscopic enemy. Unfortunately, freezing doesn’t help us much either since this is not a situation that is going to pass quickly. So, here are some ideas to help us all thaw out:

Fight the Anxiety & Get Moving

  • Don’t get stuck in bed, on the couch, etc. reading over the latest bad news of the day. Put down the phone and change your environment. Get out and take a walk. Try a cold shower or just splashing cold water on your face. It’s an old strategy but it still works.
  • Do some amount of vigorous exercise every day. Now is the perfect time to try out those high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts you’ve heard so much about. Here is a good one. The benefit of these is that they are short, but they will get you moving and change your focus. Exercise naturally releases endorphins and other beneficial neurochemicals, especially when it is intense. This way you not only break out of your freeze, but you are likely to feel a little better afterwards.
  • If you are not a fan of the high intensity workouts but a clean space gets your endorphins flowing, feel free to use cleaning as your vigorous exercise! Scrubbing, mopping, washing, all of these will work as long as it requires some amount of physical effort.

Now, instead of reading another article on how to manage your anxiety, go try out some of these things! Stay well and be kind to yourself.


Meet Jonathan Horey, MD

Dr. Jonathan Horey became familiar with TMS while training and working at Columbia University in New York City where many of the early and important studies on TMS were conducted. Dr. Horey has since completed more extensive training in TMS and keeps himself up-to-date with the latest research on brain stimulation techniques, including TMS.