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Just Breathe: How to Reduce Anxiety in the Age of COVID

SK Camille
5 min readSep 11, 2021

By taking control of your own stress response to the crisis, you can carve out space for yourself to be calmer and clearer.

I don’t mean to stress you out, but there’s a second pandemic going on along with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s probably affecting everyone, to one degree or another.

It’s a pandemic of stress and anxiety.

If you’re experiencing trouble concentrating, sleep problems, irritability or nervousness, or constant worrying, or if you have little interest in pleasure or in doing things, or if you’re feeling down or depressed, you’re far from alone.

Most people are experiencing these symptoms during the pandemic.

“Fear and anxiousness about [COVID] is normal, real, human. This cannot not affect your emotions. This is you being human. It is uncomfortable, not weak or unhealthy.”

— Therapist Monica Blume

Trouble concentrating is the most common difficulty: Before the pandemic, about one in ten people reported trouble concentrating — or “brain fog” — but during the pandemic, it’s been three out of four people. Trouble concentrating has become much more common among young people, and is probably interfering with their schoolwork.

Increases in anxiety and depression

Before the pandemic struck, anxiety and depression were affecting about 11% of people — a little more than one in ten. By June 2020 — a few months into the pandemic — that number had skyrocketed to 42%.

For working adults, in particular, the number reporting anxiety tripled during the pandemic — from about one in four to about three in four people. Depression, sleep problems, and irritability have all more than doubled in prevalence. Low energy, loss of appetite, and feeling bad about yourself have also increased.

“Adverse mental health is now both persistent and widespread in the population.”

— Researchers Duncan Thomas et al. in The Lancet

SK Camille

I cover general-interest professional topics in clear, actionable briefs. I also write about change, growth, and faith with warmth and optimism.