Ways To Manage Anxiety During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated March 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many local, state, and national municipalities are taking steps to help safeguard their citizens by implementing new rules, laws, and procedures in an attempt to limit and contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic in March of 2020.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, health officials and authorities worldwide are recommending (and sometimes requiring) that people around the globe "self-quarantine" or "shelter-in-place." If you need support with travel anxiety during this time, a therapist may be able to help, though there are also strategies that you can use on your own to help manage your mental health during this time.

Social distancing, sheltering-in-place, and self-quarantine

Feeling overwhelmed with the COVID-19 pandemic?

According to health experts, social distancing precautions can help limit the spread of the coronavirus via person-to-person contact. As a result, many cities worldwide have placed a ban on travel and leisure activities, asking the public to temporarily halt participation in non-essential services (especially group gatherings and social activities).

This means that businesses, public venues, restaurants, schools, and other places where people typically gather daily have virtually come to a standstill in some areas.

Though these restrictions are lessening now that we are two years into the pandemic, many families are hunkering down and preparing to shelter-in-place (except for essentials) as new variants emerge. 

This daily concern about health, life, and our loved ones has led to as much as a 25% increase in anxiety around the globe. People who have anxiety on an ordinary day may feel the pressure of world events increasing or intensifying their anxiety symptoms. With the latest news surrounding the pandemic, people around the world are wondering how to stay calm.

Tip #1. Take a break from the news

More cases of COVID-19 are being reported every day. With the entire world on the edge of its seat, it's no wonder that people living with anxiety and related mental health disorders are having higher-than-normal bouts of anxiety.

It's important to keep up with the news about the virus to make the best health decisions for you and your family, but this doesn't mean you should stay tuned in every second of the day. Instead, it's all right to check verified news sources periodically for important updates from local and regional news outlets and public health decision-makers.

However, tuning into news outlets and social media for pandemic updates too often can hinder your mental health. Try setting a time limit on how much news or media you consume each day to help look after your mental well-being while still remaining informed.

Tip #2. Get your blood flowing with short bursts of exercise


Getting your blood flowing is one of the best ways to expend negative energy and to get yourself out of your own head and worries, and into the moment as you focus on moving and breathing. Your mind and body will thank you for doing a few minutes of yoga stretches, deep breathing exercises, cardio, weightlifting – whatever works best for you.

Studies have found that exercise not only benefits our bodies but our brains as well! Even just ten minutes of focused activity can help reduce stress hormones, release feel-good endorphins, and increase blood-oxygen levels (which in turn helps our brains function more efficiently). 

Tip # 3. Organize and catch up on overdue projects, homework, etc...

Remember all of those projects you've been putting off because you didn't have time to do them last year? Now is a great time to tackle projects around the house that have been needing attention. If you're not a DIY expert, don't be afraid to use internet resources for simple ways to complete your projects.

You'll likely feel an added sense of relief when you look at all you've accomplished. The anxiety surrounding these unfinished tasks can fade, and you'll feel better knowing you're still making steady progress toward your goals.

Tip #4. Create a daily schedule to combat anxiety and boredom

One of the biggest drivers of anxiety in our lives can be not knowing what to do next. If you experience anxiety, you may benefit from writing out a daily schedule that outlines how you will spend your day. This way, you’re less likely to worry about forgetting something, and checking things off as you complete them can boost your mood.

Parents, in particular, who have children out of school and who also experience anxiety will likely benefit from creating a schedule and following it until things get back to normal. Balancing working from home, managing a home, and taking care of your children while also ensuring that they still focus on schooling from home can take a toll and increase stress and anxiety. Writing out a schedule for both yourself and potentially for your children can help all of you to stay on track and feel less anxious.

Tip #5. Check-in with yourself by practicing self-care

It should go without saying that practicing self-care during times of high stress can help reduce this stress as well as anxiety. However, many of us forget to take care of ourselves until we start feeling run-down, overwhelmed, or extremely anxious. Take advantage of the downtime associated with COVID-19 and practice some self-care exercises. The following are eight examples of self-care activities you can do at home:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Salt Bath
  • Hot Tea/Hot Chocolate
  • Self-Massage
  • Couples Massage
  • Deep Breathing Exercises
  • Deep Stretching Exercises
Feeling overwhelmed with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tip #6. Follow the advice of your local and regional health authorities

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are two primary resources responsible for monitoring and reporting updates on COVID-19. These two organizations are working together with other public health and safety organizations to contain and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The WHO recommends these basic measures at this time:

  • Wash your hands frequently; maintain good hygiene to prevent the spread of viruses and germs.
  • Practice social distancing; maintain at least six feet between you and others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent transferring germs from contact.
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene. Use tissues or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

If you have a fever, cough, and chills, seek medical care early - call your medical provider by phone before going to any facility.

If you have been advised to "shelter-in-place," follow the rules and regulations set by your local public health department and your local authorities. Verify your information sources, and don't rely on gossip or social media to make critical decisions.

Tip #7. Talk to a mental health professional online

If your anxiety seems to be increasing and getting in the way of daily life, reach out to a mental health professional online for guidance and support. A licensed mental health professional can provide distance-therapy and real-time options for coping with the anxiety surrounding COVID-19, as well as many other mental health conditions and concerns.

For people who aren't able to go into therapists’ or doctors’ offices because of self-imposed quarantine and local shelter-in-place restrictions, there are several options for getting support from the comfort of your home.

Online counseling is one such option, and studies show that it can improve your mental health. One such study from Palo Alto University found that video-based cognitive behavior therapy is effective in treating depression and anxiety. According to the research, approximately 73% of study participants saw an improvement of symptoms after six weeks, and the data suggests a “decelerated decrease in symptoms over time.”

Therapists and counselors at BetterHelp are available online to help you ease symptoms of anxiety and stress. BetterHelp also offers affordable pricing options typically comparable with most insurance plans’ co-pays, making it an economical choice. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people seeking support with their mental health during the pandemic.

Counselor reviews

“Tonya has been an amazing support system during COVID and during a life-changing time that is extremely difficult emotionally & physically. She has helped me to feel less overwhelmed as well as validating my feelings. I strongly recommend her!”

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“Lisa was just an incredible person to work with. I work in the healthcare industry and was feeling like I was going to lose my mind with the COVID-19 virus first and second wave, she was just the best person for me during this time. She guides you on how to work with your feelings and grow from them, how to work out your brain, and how you can train your thoughts to make life a little bit more manageable each day. I was suffering from crippling anxiety (that eventually turned into physical symptoms), panic attacks, depression, and fatigue from work/COVID. She listens to you and reflects with you about how these situations are hard and that you have every right to these feelings. She also would provide a different perspective that would just help bring you back down to earth and reminds you that you are human, and we can all grow from every hard situation and scenario. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Lisa and will always be grateful to her for the new perspective on life and all of the new tools I have to help manage life, which has made me feel like a better person. Thank you, Lisa! I hope to reconnect with you soon!”


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The COVID-19 pandemic has had many unexpected and long-lasting global impacts, such as an approximate 25% increase in anxiety worldwide. It is particularly important during these challenging times to take care of yourself, including your mental health. 

Things like getting regular exercise, practicing mindfulness, giving yourself some daily self-care and self-love, and more can all help with managing the increased mental and physical stresses that many of us have experienced over the past two years. Additionally, online therapy can be a safe, effective resource and source of support to help you improve and maintain your mental health and overall well-being.

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