Coping with pandemic anxiety

Denise GillinHealth Benefits, News

By Michael Diller, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist and Director, Employee Assistance Program, WellSpan

The ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic is taking a toll on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of Americans. The National Institute for Health Care Management reports symptoms of anxiety have tripled from 8.1% to 25.5% from 2019 to 2020, and depression symptoms have almost quadrupled from 6.5% to 24.3% in that same time period. In late June, 2020, 75% of 18-to-24 year old respondents reported having at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom.

Strategies of building resilience and engaging in self-care is of utmost importance to cope with the rise in anxiety and depression, particularly experienced during the last six to seven months. The big question is, “What can we do to alleviate these feelings of worry and apprehension?”

Nine to Know coping strategies

During times of stress, try practicing some of the following “Nine to Know” methods to cultivate your inner calm:

  • Simply remind ourselves and one another to make sure we “press pause” along the way – walk, breathe, meditate, step outside, stop and look-up.
  • Engage in “contrasting interests” – do something different than in your work life; something that energizes you.
  • Take care of the bare basics – rest, sleep, drink plenty of water, eat healthy snacks and meals.
  • Stay connected with meaningful relationships both at work and especially outside of work.
  • Move; exercise of some type is proven to help live a long, healthy life.
  • Check-in with one another. Genuinely ask, “How are you doing today? How are you really doing?”
  • Hold on to humor – laughter is good healing for the soul.
  • Limit and take breaks from media, social media, and news.
  • Reach out for support if and when you need it. This is sometimes the most difficult to do as we try to get by and keep going, but that mindset in the end contributes further to the stealing of our joy, purpose, and meaningfulness in what we do in our work, how we relate to others, and how we ultimately feel about ourselves.

Remember, implementing coping strategies such as asking for support, engaging with others by talking about your feelings, and basic self-care are signs of strength not weakness. It’s not about trying to get by, but rather trying to get better.

For more information, contact Mike at or contact a member of the Murray Benefits Team at 717.397.9600. Click for additional resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control.



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