Long-term effects of COVID-19: anxiety 

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Health Assured team

10 March 2022

Research shows that one in five people were still struggling to return to normal living after restrictions eased last year. COVID-19 might be fading into the background of our lives now, along with the memories of lockdown, but for some, the anxiety still remains. 

At Health Assured, we saw the mental health impacts of the pandemic first hand. Calls to our helpline increased by 9% and cases matched for structured counselling rocketed by 24%. Mental health is a growing concern and the need for more support is evident.

One way we can all help each other is by learning more about mental health, the different conditions, symptoms and methods of support. That’s why we’ve delved into COVID-19 anxiety below.


What is COVID-19 anxiety?

COVID-19 anxiety is a type of anxiety that gets triggered by thoughts, emotions and experiences related to COVID-19. It could be potential exposure to the virus, friends or family members coming into contact with the virus, or socialising in big groups or spaces. 

When feelings of anxiety arise because of a specific phobia or fear, this is what’s known as an anxiety trigger. Sometimes it's difficult to narrow down exactly what is causing your anxiety. But if you can identify your triggers, it can help you overcome the feelings. 


Symptoms of COVID-19 anxiety 

Just like any other type of anxiety disorder, everyone’s experience of COVID-19 anxiety will be unique to them. You may only find you suffer from a few symptoms, or you might experience more. Below we’ve listed some common symptoms:

  • Feeling on edge a lot of the time 
  • Irritability 
  • Concentration problems 
  • Headaches
  • Shallow breathing
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Dizziness 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Feeling nauseous 
  • Excessive sweating 


How to manage COVID-19 anxiety

It’s understandable why anxiety levels are on the up after years of lockdowns, restrictions and heart-wrenching news stories. You might be struggling to let go of the strict advice and guidance on social interactions, especially if you or your family members have been affected by the virus. But know that despite this, help is available. And there are self-care methods you can also use to improve your symptoms. 


Be mindful 

Mindfulness is a method of absorbing yourself into the now—it’s about allowing yourself to pay full attention to the present moment, feel the sensation and listen to the sounds. 

It aims to help you: 

  • become more self-aware 
  • feel calmer and less stressed 
  • feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings 
  • cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts 
  • be kinder towards yourself 

Bear in mind that mindfulness doesn’t work for everyone—in fact, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend avoiding mindfulness in cases of social anxiety.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Oftentimes, anxieties can stem from feeling out of control. To combat these emotions, you can begin to take care of things you can control. Feeling anxious or worked up about the prospect of contracting COVID? Focus on improving your physical wellbeing. Think about the foods you eat. Nourishing your body with minerals and vitamins helps it function smoothly. It can also give your energy a boost and reduce fatigue.

Movement can increase mood and mental wellbeing too. It can help to channel anxious emotions and release any tension your body might be holding. Next time work worries take over your mind, turn to exercise to soften your emotions. It helps you overcome negative states and adapt to drastic changes in your day-to-day life.


Remember that it takes time to adjust to new ways of living. Acceptance can help soften the impact of change. Relax your muscles and welcome the changes where you can. This will help you be more flexible and take on future challenges with ease.

Transitioning back to office working

If you’re struggling to make the shift back into office life, try reaching out to your managers to see if there’s anything they can do to help. Find coping mechanisms that work for you and call upon them in times of need. If you have a colleague at work you trust, try to open up about your anxiety with them. Having someone there to support you in times of need can be a big help. 


Getting help for COVID-19 anxiety 

If anxiety starts to interfere with your daily life and you find that self-care methods aren’t working for you, then don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Speak up, talk to people you trust and head to visit your GP for advice. They can direct you to the best course of action for you and help you understand what’s going on. 

For more information about COVID-19 anxiety, get in touch with Health Assured on:

UK: 0844 892 2493 

ROI: 01 886 0324 


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