Episode 29-Pandemic Anxiety and Creative Solutions

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Has anxiety changed because of the pandemic? How has COVID-19 impacted what these issues look like, as compared to their classic versions? How can we fight them in order to calm in life?

In this episode, Nathan and Aaron answer all these questions and more as they share their observations and experiences as therapists.

In This Episode


  • What is classic anxiety?
  • What is “pandemic anxiety”?
  • How do you treat classic anxiety?
  • What are some creative ideas for treating pandemic anxiety?

What is classic anxiety?

  1. Feeling “keyed up” or tense
  2. Feeling irritable or agitated
  3. Muscle tension or fatigue
  4. Excessive worrying
  5. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both

What is “pandemic anxiety”?

  1. Can include all of the same symptoms of classic anxiety
  2. Additionally, feelings of fear
    • Getting the COVID-19 virus or transmitting it to someone
    • Losing your job or business
    • Fearing what else could happen, since there were so many negatives that happened in the year 2020
  3. Feeling alone in your anxiety
    • Worrying that nobody else understands or feels the same way
  4. Unable to get away from your stressful environment at home, especially if you have kids or everyone is working from home

How do you treat classic anxiety?

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
    • Being fully present with yourself, aware of only what’s happening in the present moment
    • There are many great smartphone apps out there
  • Grounding
    • Focusing on what your senses can see, smell, hear, touch, taste in the present moment
    • Can involve counting things
  • Medication
    • One medication is serotonin, which gives you pleasure
    • Another one is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which gives you energy
    • A bit of a different one is Wellbutrin, which keeps you alert
    • Medication isn’t the first thing to turn to, but for a lot of people it is necessary
  • Exercise
    • Channeling your anxious energy in a positive direction can give you a rush of adrenaline and endorphins you need to feel better and relieve stress
  • Healthy diet
    • Diet can be one of the limited sources of pleasure, but a bad diet will only do damage in the long-term
  • Good sleep hygiene
    • Stick to a regular routine, just like brushing your teeth
    • Avoid looking at screens 1 hour before bed
    • Keep your bedroom only for sleep (and sex) and avoid doing work or other stressful activities there so it is associated with relaxation
    • Turn off other noises, but white noises can be helpful
    • Make your room as dark as possible

What are some creative ideas for treating pandemic anxiety?

  • Talk about your worries and fears with the pandemic, even if you’re tired of that, to keep connecting
    • It doesn’t matter if everyone’s heard it before, it still helps to feel like you’re not the only one feeling it
  • Avoid caffeine
    • Coffee (even decaf can have caffeine in it), soda, green tea
  • Turn off the news and get off social media
    • The barrage of information and misinformation on both sides can be overwhelming and only feed anxiety
  • If you find comfort knowing the statistics and details, do your research carefully and be informed. Beware: not everyone is like this!
  • Get out of your house and your city if you can, even just a day trip to another part of your state, if that’s possible
  • Consider talking to your doctor about medications
    • SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are commonly used for depression but they also work for anxiety
    • Avoid anxiolitics: they can be effective but addicting and zap your energy
  • Extra credit: practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques
  • Extra EXTRA credit: incorporate deep breathing with PMR
  • SUPER EXTRA credit: add guided imagery with PMR and deep breathing

Useful Links

  • Sign up for our free email course, 9 Ways To Overcome Fear & Self-Doubt, that will guide you through our process of facing fears and insecurities so that you can feel more comfortable in your own skin

Thanks for Listening!

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aaron potratz and nathan hawkins therapists standing smiling

Meet Nathan & Aaron

Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz are both licensed therapists and clinical supervisors in the state of Oregon. They each own their own private group counseling practices and co-own a third group practice together. Nathan and Aaron have been in the field since 2004 and 2007, respectively, and have over 100,000 hours of therapy experience each. On their show, they discuss facing fears and common challenges from a therapist’s point of view, imparting wisdom and humanity to their viewers. Along the way, they hope to not only share their insights but bring some light-hearted entertainment to make the journey easier.

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