When COVID-19 began to spread across the globe in early 2020, most of us were unprepared for the ways a worldwide pandemic would impact every part of our lives - our jobs, businesses, relationships, and of course our health. Even people who haven’t become sick from the virus may still feel deep emotional stress from watching news reports about COVID-related deaths or hearing stories of suffering told by survivors. In addition, the uncertainty around how to best protect yourself and the isolation from loved ones can contribute to chronic fear and anxiety.

When COVID-19 feels like a threat

It is normal to feel anxious when faced with a potential threat. This fear instinct is what motivates you to keep yourself safe in dangerous situations; if a bear approached you, your fight-or-flight instinct would kick in and help you run to safety.

But how often is there actually a bear?

Anxiety about COVID-19, or other illnesses, can work the same way. Your fear instinct may help you remember to wear a mask in public or wash your hands regularly. But if you find yourself getting caught up in the “what ifs,” you may need to develop strategies to calm yourself and shift your perspective.