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By Pam Dewey • anxiety, anxious, anxiety disorders, managing anxiety, anxiety and events, managing anxiety at events, anxiety help, tips for managing anxiety, coping with anxiety, how to cope with anxiety, therapy for anxiety • July 16, 2020

A trip to the grocery store or Target feels very different these days. Gone is your ability to wander leisurely through the aisles. Visiting the store now involves a mask, hand sanitizer and a 6-foot bubble separating you from the nearest person. Even picking up an item you’re unsure you want is fraught with anxiety: Could I get germs from that parmesan?!

The pandemic has caused more people to experience anxiety, says Fraser Adult Mental Health Practitioner Jessica Schultz. People are struggling with financial burdens, isolation, job losses, uncertainty about the future and the worry of getting sick.

As many states start to cautiously allow more activities, outdoor events — like the Fraser (Drive-Thru) Walk for Autism — are popping up. An outdoor event provides the opportunity for better social distancing. Instead of the usual Fraser Walk for Autism, the Aug. 1 event, presented by Central Roofing Company, is now a drive-thru parade of activities that attendees can enjoy from the safety of their vehicles.

Even with safety precautions, the idea of attending an event with a group of people may make some feel anxious. However, there are things you can do to help prepare yourself mentally for an outdoor event.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your anxiety:

  • Practice daily calming strategies, like exercising, spending time in nature or meditating. Schultz recommends that mediation beginners try Jason Stephenson.
  • Look for pre-visit information, like a map that shows the exits, bathrooms and where the activities are happening. You could also try visiting the location ahead of time to see the layout. Knowing more about the site can help you feel more prepared.
  • Visit locations or events that feel less overwhelming. Well-planned events will advertise safety measures like social distancing, masks worn by organizers and limited contact between participants.
  • Create a plan about how you will cope if you start to feel anxious. Find music that calms you. Use a relaxing breathing technique. Bring lavender essential oils, because lavender is a soothing scent.
  • Treat everyone at the outing as if they are sick. That means you should practice social distancing, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently.
  • Leave the event. If your anxiety makes it impossible to enjoy yourself, there is no reason to stay. Value your mental health.

Experiencing anxiety during a global pandemic is understandable. But not everyone can manage their anxiety themselves.

“If your anxiety is interfering with your ability to participate in daily activities, reach out for help,” says Schultz. Fraser is accepting new clients into telehealth services, which allows you to receive therapy in the comfort of your home.