Intuition Counselling & Psychotherapy

Counselling & Psychotherapy In South London

Anxiety and Covid – How anxiety may be affecting you beyond lockdown


Recently I have been thinking about what impact the pandemic may have had on people without really realising it so yes, this is a blog post about anxiety and how it can affect you but I am viewing this in the terms of the pandemic.  Sometimes anxiety can be obvious but sometimes it can be tricky to pinpoint what exactly is going on.  I want to talk about anxiety and covid in the landscape of where we are now when things are opening up and we are trying to adapt to a ‘new normal’. 


The Body and Mind 


Anxiety can show up in the body in different ways, it does not necessarily have to be a full blown feeling of a panic attack.  Some physical signs of anxiety can be shortness of breath, heart racing or pounding, feeling frozen, wanting to run, feeling teary/overwhelmed, sweating, a feeling of a knot or ball in your stomach, or experiencing skin or digestive problems.  It can also make you feel as if you are imagining things or going ‘crazy’, it can be quite an isolating experience at times as often people can feel like they are the only one who feels this way.  Anxiety can be situational or feel like it is associated with nothing in particular.  Both are valid. 


Anxiety can also take the form of unhelpful thinking patterns or changed thinking patterns.  The way you view things can impact the way that you feel, so can suppressing the way you feel.  It is the thought that starts first (consciously or unconsciously) and then the feeling follows.  Avoidance can increase anxiety, sometimes facing what you find challenging can be helpful.  Another way to look at it is maybe you feel differently now than before the pandemic started, maybe you have noticed the things you used to enjoy no longer feel the same or you are dreading social interactions which can make you feel guilty because hey, we spent nearly 2 years indoors right?! 


For some, they may be feeling burnt out which can feel confusing if you feel you are not consciously doing more.   Even the act of moving from the virtual world to face to face can take a lot more energy than maybe we realise.  If you have a tendency to plan and think things through anyway, your brain may be doing a lot of extra processing right now and it can be a mindset shift for some to move from staying indoors to feel safe to now mixing with others.  For example, this could feel like you have brain fog. 


I think anxiety can tell us how we feel about something, sometimes it is in reaction to things we may not really need to fear but there is an underlying reason for the feeling and resulting thoughts.  One tool I use with clients is the ‘cogs’ exercise (from, it is really easy to do but is a way to start thinking about what is contributing to your anxiety.   


Cogs exercise 

  • Imagine (or do this on a piece of paper) a big cog with several small cogs around it that help the big cog keep turning.   

  • In the middle of the big cog is where you write ‘anxiety’ (it can be helpful to break this down to something like ‘social anxiety’).   

  • In the smaller cogs imagine or write down all the things that contribute to the big cog such as ‘overthinking’ ‘worried about what I will say’ ‘feel stupid’ ‘feel self conscious’.   

  • Pick one of the smaller cogs to think about in more detail and think about why you feel this way and what it could mean.  You could then try extending this to thinking about the ways you feel that shows up in your behaviour or in the sensations in your body. 


Self Awareness and Anxiety 


This amongst a lot of other exercises are a way to attune to what is going on for you and increase your self awareness.   The more you start to notice the things that you do and the way that you think that may be contributing to your anxious feelings, the more you can understand and decide if you want to take action.  Emotional and physical attunement can also take the form of things such as journalling, meditation and yoga as they can give you space to ‘listen’ to what is going on.  On every self awareness journey I always recommend having compassion for yourself, anxiety can feel frustrating but talking negatively to yourself can be so harmful as you learn new ways of being.  I don’t know who needs to hear this but the anxiety you feel no matter how irrational you may think it is, is not something you are doing to yourself and is not your fault. 


Remember baby steps are still steps, that Rome wasn’t built in a day and change takes time.  The brain can be trained to think differently, why do you think they have brain training games – the process takes time though, you don’t go to the gym and expect new muscles overnight.   The physical symptoms of anxiety can be alleviated with breathwork and in a future post I will share some breathing techniques to help with anxiety. 


I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, I want you to know that I haven’t covered all the ways that anxiety can show up in your body and mind because I do not believe that the list is exhaustive and there are close connections to stress and depression (to be covered in a later blog), also some of us may feel comforted by the label, some of us not.  The human experience is vast and wonderful so as always, take what you need from this and leave what you don’t – that’s your choice, I trust you to know what you need. 



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