We have all struggled to cope with fear, isolation, loneliness, and financial worries for over a year, wondering if we or someone we loved would be the next COVID victim. We had to learn to cope in a new world while waiting for an answer that would end the pandemic.
In a world of uncertainty, the only thing certain was that no one had all the answers. Even the vaccine designed to protect the masses left unanswerable questions. Combine all the emotions and uncertainty, mix well, and you have the recipe for a massive helping of anxiety.
The general thought was that once a vaccine was discovered and people began getting their vaccinations, anxiety would disappear. The world would open up again, and things would return to normal.
The good news is we are making progress on returning life to a normal, pre-covid state. The fear and anxiety will dissipate as people begin to see the world opening up again.
In the meantime, the newest anxiety-inducing, covid related issue has arisen, the vaccine and all the questions surrounding it. If you are feeling anxious about the vaccine, know that you are in good company.
You may have many questions like:
- Will I be able to get an appointment?
- Will children get the shot?
- Will there be side effects?
- Is it effective?
- Will there be long-term effects?
- How long will the vaccine be effective?
- Can I catch COVID-19 even if I get the vaccine?
Some of these questions don’t have answers making us feel uncomfortable. We like answers. They make us feels safe and reassured.
The discomfort that comes with the unknown induces an anxious, out-of-control feeling. It becomes difficult to sort through your feelings, make accurate decisions and take action when you’re looking at the world through mildly panicked eyes.
Here are some things you can do to manage your anxiety and how you can help others manage theirs.
How to Stay Sane in a COVID World
The methods here will help you manage your COVID-19 fears and anxiety, and they can also help get you through whatever else COVID may throw at you. Reducing your stress and fear about the vaccine will enable you to make an informed decision and do what’s best for you.
You can minimize COVID-19 vaccine anxiety by:
1. Staring it in the face – Go ahead and be anxious. It’s normal. Acknowledge to yourself that you feel anxious, but don’t let it control your thoughts.
Avoid entertaining “what-ifs” or letting your thoughts spiral negatively. Sometimes they sneak up on you when your mind least expects it, and suddenly you realize you are headed in the wrong direction.
Try saying “stop” out loud. Hearing your voice can snap you back into a normal state.
2. Know what there is to know – Opinions on the vaccine are abundant. You have probably heard opinions from doctors, media, friends, your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin, the internet, social media even the newsstand at the grocery store displays a view.
Opinions are not facts. When you obtain information from reliable sources (not the nosy know-it-all next door) and assess the risk level as thoroughly as possible you feel more comfortable coming to a decision that is best for you.
It is during the time you are trying to make a decision that causes the most anxiety. Once you’ve made the decision, much of the stress disappears.
3. Talk it out – Keeping stressful things to yourself allows them to grow into category 4 tornadoes. Your internal dialogue only has one side of the equation, making it very difficult to solve the problem. Talking through your thought process with someone you trust as you try to decide can help you put things into perspective. It also gives the other person the opportunity to reassure you as you express your concerns.
4. Control the Controllable – There are still many things in your daily life that you can control. Focus on those. For example, you can continue to wear your mask, wash your hands often, practice social distancing, and be aware of how you feel.
Remember that you cannot control other people’s thoughts and feelings about the vaccine. Each person must do what they think is right for them. However, you can manage your emotions and practice compassion. Be the ear to the person who needs to talk about the vaccine.
It may help them make their decision and relieve their anxiety.
Remember, stress and concern about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness is normal. No one has all the answers, science has answered many vaccine questions, and ongoing research will answer more in the days to come.
With the stress of the last year fresh on your mind, you may feel completely overwhelmed by trying to decide what to do about the vaccine. Seeking help from a professional therapist who has the experience and tools to support you can get you through this rough time.