At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was asking ‘Should I be afraid of Covid?’ Everywhere you turned there was a different answer from the media telling you why you shouldn’t be scared about Covid. But now it’s two years after quarantine started and you might be still anxious about Covid. So where does all this fear and anxiety come from?
Well, when Covid was newly introduced to those of us in the US at least, there was a lot of vagueness when it came to getting information. Covid was still so new that there wasn’t a lot of information, or accurate information, out there.
One day the news would say one thing. The next day we’d get a conflicting report. All we knew was that Covid is deadly and that we were supposed to stay inside and not go into public places unless we were essential workers.
When something is threatening, it causes anxiety. So the more we started hearing reports about Covid, the less sure we were of what was going on during that whole first year of 2020. The vagueness of how to prevent Covid caused greater fear and anxiety. Where there’s vagueness, anxiety will grow. Now it’s two years later and it’s ok if you’re still anxious about Covid.
Should I be afraid of Covid?
At the beginning of the pandemic, things were really scary and anxiety-provoking. Everyone was told to stay away from other people, wear masks if they went outside, but also just don’t go outside. The fear and the anxiety came from the vagueness of the news and flip-flopping of information we received.
No one knew in March 2020 how long this pandemic would last, what exactly Covid could do to you, if there was a cure, or how they could prevent the spread. Slowly information started coming our way that had us even more anxious. Death rates were rising. People were afraid to leave their homes and it was easy to seclude.
But then the pandemic continued, there were no vaccines yet, and everyone was still stuck indoors. It was easy to lose sight of why we were all sheltering in place and just want to leave the house. People started breaking quarantine to be with others outside, even in extreme weather. The virus spread. More vague news came out. No one knew what to do. Anxiety rose.
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself or others more than once during these last two years ‘should I be afraid of Covid?’ The answer was yes, but we didn’t know how scared we should be. There were people telling us why we shouldn’t be scared about Covid, which was confusing. This caused more anxiety.
It’s OK if you’re still anxious about Covid
Vague news = anxiety. Reports about the deadly virus with nothing we could do about it = anxiety. Vaccines start coming out, and we don’t know how effective or safe they are = anxiety. Have you noticed a pattern yet?
It’s OK if you’re still anxious about Covid. Yes, we have more information now than we did two years ago, but the virus hasn’t gone away. The CDC changed its regulations so many times it’s been hard to keep track.
Is it OK to have large get-togethers? What about wearing masks indoors? Do you need to show proof of vaccination to get into bars, restaurants, and theatres? How many boosters will you need to be fully vaccinated? The list of questions goes on and on.
Did any of these questions make you feel anxious? Were you reminded of those first few weeks and months of 2020 when the world shut down and how anxious and scared you felt? The world has opened back up, but it’s OK if you’re still anxious about Covid.
One thing that really changed when the pandemic hit was therapy. Most therapists switched to telehealth and provided their services solely online. More and more people were coming to therapists to get help with their mental health as a result of the pandemic. One thing I noticed was how much more anxious my clients felt. And my specialty is anxiety. You can only imagine how much of a difference I saw.
The fear and anxiety sowed by the vague news, deadly virus, and the need to quarantine back in 2020 set the stage for rising anxiety in the US as well as all over the world. Every country, hell even every state, handled the crisis differently. Now, two years later, it’s OK if you’re still anxious about Covid, because it hasn’t gone away. And we don’t know when or if it will.
Hopefully one day Covid will be like the flu. You get your shot once a year and you do your best not to go places when you’re sick so that you don’t spread the disease. And the flu is no longer deadly. That’s my hope for us, but we’ll have to see how everything plays out. Which also causes anxiety.
By all means, live your life, but do it safely. Seek mental health support for your anxiety related to Covid, and know that it’s OK to be still anxious about Covid. Most of us are. That’s why therapy is so important. If you’re not already in therapy, I highly recommend that you see a therapist for your ever-growing anxiety. Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
Danielle Wayne is a millennial therapist who specialises in working with millennials with anxiety and ADHD.