Psychologist's tips for coping with Covid anxiety

New year, new variant! With everything going on in the world, it’s a bit much at times, isn’t it?

And as a result, increased hyper vigilance about contracting the Covid-19 virus and passing it on to a loved one, colleague, or the immunocompromised is on the rise.

If finding your inner peace is becoming harder than finding a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test), you’re not alone …

woman with anxiety over covid
Many are feeling anxiety about the continually changing Covid situation. Photo: Getty

Why are so many experiencing Covid anxiety?

According to the ABS, 15 per cent of Australians in 2021 experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress and 3.4 million saw a health professional for their mental health.


Clinical psychologist Dr Jodie Lowinger says many are unsure of how to deal with their feelings about the spread of the Omicron strain and the continually changing Covid situation.

"The variant has only added fuel to the fire for those who were already struggling," says Dr Jodie, clinical psychologist, and author of the internationally acclaimed book The Mind Strength Method.

A woman squeezing the sample liquid on a test strip while carrying out a Covid-19 rapid self test at home.
Are you worried about catching and passing on Covid? Photo: Getty

To help, Dr Jodie, who is the founder of The Anxiety Clinic, shares her top tips for conquering Covid anxiety:

1. Recognise your tendency to over-worry

The Mind Strength Method is about recognising when worry is taking hold, and building self awareness around “fight or flight” thoughts and behaviour, Dr Jodie tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Are you avoiding certain things, lashing out or shutting down? In the moment, what is your body telling you?”

2. Remember to breathe

A long, slow, out-breath can switch your focus.

“Imagine you’re cooling down a cup of tea or bowl of soup as you breathe out,” Dr Jodie explains.

“Let your lungs fill up naturally and take you out of your sympathetic nervous system into your parasympathetic nervous system.

“The power of the out-breath allows you to move from fear, to a more calm state of mind.”

A shopper walks past empty shelves normally stocked with soaps, sanitizers, paper towels, and toilet paper at a Smart & Final grocery store, March 7, 2020 in Glendale, California. - Fears of coronavirus or COVID-19, the disease that has sickened more than 100,000 people worldwide and has killed more than 3,400, has led nervous residents to frantically stock up on canned food as well as cleaning and hygiene products. California prepared to disembark passengers from a virus-hit cruise ship as officials played down any risk to local communities. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

3. Validate your thoughts and feelings

Self-care helps.

“Recognise that you are the prize and you are worth self-compassion and self-care,” she says.

“Kind people are typically the ones who experience anxiety, as they care and extend that kindness outward.

“Remember to extend that kindness and compassion inward to yourself, too.”

4. Accept the uncertainty of the times

If anxiety about the things you can’t control spirals, hijack the amygdala by standing up to worry and moving to problem solving and action planning, within your control.

“Part of the toolkit is recognising there may not be certainty or absolute control in certain situations,” Dr Jodie explains.

“Thinking you can control everything keeps you in constant ‘fight or flight’.”

5. Focus on being present

Be aware of where you are and your surroundings.

Focus on what is going on in this instant, not the catastrophic “what-ifs?”, and focus on deep breathing and that slow out-breath.

6. Switch to a problem-solving mindset

When we experience existential crises as a society, we need to move from anxiety to action.

Advocacy about what you can do, or showing how you manage what’s in your control, helps others.

Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott has moved to advocacy and led by example.

7. Incorporate powerful mood-boosters into your day

Engage more in the things that give you hope and make you feel good.

“The mind/body connection is profound,” says Dr Jodie.

“Exercise is great, but what’s really important is movement.

If you’re not feeling great, sometimes just getting out of the house into the fresh air and slowing your breathing down helps.

“If you can’t go for a run, can you walk to the corner of your block and black?”

Young woman practicing downward facing dog pose playing with her pet in the living room
Mood boosters like exercise are so important. Photo: Getty

8. Be kind to yourself and others

Practising gratitude, compassion and kindness is scientifically proven to benefit not only yourself, but those around you and society in general.

“Embracing self-care gives you a solid fountain to help support others,” Dr Jodie says.

“There’s lots more practical tips in the book.

“I wrote this book to help people, as our clinic phone lines have been ringing constantly with people desperate for an appointment.

“I wanted to make the strategies sustainable for everyone, to help as many people as possible. “I’m so privileged to have the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge with individuals from all over the world and make a positive difference in their lives.”

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