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That Restless, Irritable, Lost Feeling May Just Be Anxiety


One of the more common issues that psychologists in Littleton are hearing today is a sense of restlessness. With most of the world stuck at home for over a month, this is to be expected! However, this sort of restlessness has little to do with the fact that you’re cooped up at home, and more to do with underlying anxiety. Those with existing anxiety disorders may recognize this right away, but what about those who are usually calm, unflappable, or even aloof? The situational anxiety most people are facing right now is strong, and may cause you to feel out of sorts. Read on to find out what this feeling is and how to manage it more effectively.

Anxiety Does Not Always Equal Worry

Some people think of anxiety as being worried, frightened, frozen like a deer in headlights. In fact, anxiety can show up in many different ways, for different people, depending on the stressor. Few people are worried about losing their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak, given low mortality rates outside of risk groups. Many people have already had it and survived. Still, a feeling of restlessness, unsettledness, problems sleeping, or getting snappy at housemates is a sure sign of anxiety. When will the economy reopen? Will my job be stable? Will my child ever be able to return to school? These are not life or death worries, so many people discount them. However, keep in mind that these are worries about your livelihood and everyday life—in other words, these are important things!

Mindfulness and Acceptance

With all the time many people have free, mindfulness is a popular topic to explore. Fortunately, it is about more than just meditation, relaxation, or awareness. Mindfulness involves being attentive and aware not only to your setting, but also to your internal state—recognizing that maybe you got overly upset when your friend cancelled your video chat because you are worried about her, recognizing that you’re not feeling “unmotivated” but actually overwhelmed. When you can identify your inner emotions, you can manage them. Following this concept is acceptance. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling scared, sad, or lonely. Grieve your loss, even if the loss seems silly, like your weekly window shopping excursion or pedicure. You spent years building a life you loved, it is only natural to feel sad and anxious when it is interrupted.

Structure and Freedom

If you are working from home, or out of work and just staying at home, it can be hard to find motivation or relaxation. What a paradox! If you feel like you’ve been mentally “stuck in traffic” all day, unable to work properly or relax, don’t feel alone—this is common, and Highlands Ranch psychologists have struggled with the same challenges! Reconsider your balance between structure and freedom. Do you still need to wake up at 6 a.m., get breakfasts ready, and play “workhorse” from 9-5? Find a schedule that works for you, even if it looks different than usual. At the same time, give yourself a little more flexibility. If your workload has dropped from 40 hours to 10, don’t feel pressured to be “productive” during those extra hours! Do what feels restorative.

Feeling restless, edgy, sad, or frustrated is to be expected during this challenging time. Lashing out physically at others, harming oneself, or thinking of suicide is not. If anxiety or depression are more than you can handle during these challenging times, remember: you are not alone. Many psychologists in Littleton and around the world are offering telehealth appointments to help you build coping skills and manage your emotions. If you ever feel unsafe, your local emergency room or mental health crisis center is ready to help.