Therapist offers advice on how to manage stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19

Posted at 7:44 AM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 22:53:45-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The response to COVID-19 is changing on a daily basis, and with the virus altering life for so many people, that fear of the unknown can be a trigger for those who deal with mental health issues.

Store shelves are empty, health officials are recommending you don’t leave your house and nobody knows what will come next. These are all things that health professionals say can trigger someone’s anxiety and depression.

“The best things we can do now is root ourselves into the present and what’s happening right now,” Joel Hutton said.

Hutton is a clinical therapist at Indy Therapy Counseling. He said many people are feeling anxiety over the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and they have seen an uptick in clients reaching out for advice.

“Yeah, we really have, and even for people that I’ve been seeing for a while, it’s high up on the list or at least somewhere on the list of anxieties, worries or concerns that are happening. Everyone takes it to a different degree,” Hutton said.

We chatted via FaceTime in an effort to maintain social distancing, and he told me a lot of what his patients are feeling right now is dread.

“We begin to anticipate the future and most often the worst-case scenario,” Hutton said.

Hutton said the feeling of uncertainty is normal and wants to remind people struggling that they have dealt with the unexpected before.

“You have navigated unexpected circumstances hundreds, if not thousands, of times throughout your life and so even if unexpected circumstances happen as a result of the coronavirus, you trust yourself to navigate those situations,” Hutton said.

If you are feeling fine, Hutton recommends reaching out to loved ones and friends to let them know you are available, even if it’s to just listen.

“Actively listen just to listen and not necessarily try to fix. You know, ask them what they need ask, what you can do for them. Encourage them to stay in the moment,” Hutton said.

Hutton said oftentimes our brains can take us places that are far worse than reality. He reminds everyone to try and stay grounded in reality.

You can view information on additional resources below:

  • You can submit a care referral if you are concerned about a student at Indiana University here.
  • Ball State University students can visit the university's counseling center website for resources.
  • Ball State University employees can get help and resources through the university's Employee Assistance Program. You can learn more information about the program here.
  • The University of Indianapolis Health and Wellness and Counseling Center will remain open for those who need help. You can view more information about the center here.
  • Counseling and consultation services at Marian University will still be staffed. If you have questions or need guidance, you can call the office at 317-955-6150.
  • Purdue University students who need mental health resources can visit CAPS or view resources online. You can view more information on resources at Purdue here.
  • Students and employees at the University of Notre Dame can contact LifeWorks or the university's employee assistance program.