Covid Vaccine Anxiety? 6 Ways to Cope
by Anne Akers, Health & Wellness Editor
If you are like many Americans, you may be struggling with anxiety around the Covid-19 Vaccine.
These concerns cover a wide range of emotions, ranging from potentially worrisome side effects, anger about the lack of availability , and for some, the fear that they will not be able to receive the vaccination at all. Lastly, for about 15% of the population there are those who will not get the vaccine because it does not fit into their belief system.
To ease some of the anxiety about information systems, Comcast recently announced an aggregate website that provides everything you need to know about getting the Covid-19 vaccination on a state-by-state basis. This consumer friendly website allows the user to determine elibility, timelines, closest vaccine location and other helpful information at https://planyourvaccine.com
In addition, Dr. Daniel Amen, one of America’s leading psychiatrists and brain health experts, and Author of the best-selling, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” offers the following advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety around the vaccine.
1. Do your research and be aware of possible side effects. Look to reliable sources for up-to-date information on the vaccines. On the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccines page, you can find details on how and when you can get the vaccine, possible side effects and allergic reactions, vaccine safety, and more. Being well-informed on these issues can help soothe the nervousness surrounding immunization and can answer many of the questions you may have.
2. Focus on what you can control. Even if you’re able to receive the vaccine, you still need to take care of the #1 strategy to fight off infection by shoring up your immune system. Some important ways to do this include lowering your stress; checking and optimizing your vitamin D levels (only 25% of the U.S. population has healthy levels of vitamin D); and taking a multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acids, and therapeutic mushrooms (found to have immune-enhancing effects).
3. Practice empathy. If you’re upset that others are getting the vaccine and you aren’t, work on empathy, which is the awareness of other people’s needs and concerns. Empathy stems from what researchers call the “mirror neuron” system in the brain. These neurons “allow us to grasp the minds of others,” according to researchers, which is why we open our own mouths when we feed a baby or yawn when others start to yawn first. We “play” their minds in our brains.
Developing empathy involves a number of important skills, including mirroring, being able to get outside of yourself, and treating others in a way you would like to be treated.
4. Be patient. Whether you’re waiting for your turn to be eligible for the vaccine, or you need to wait in a mile-long line to actually get the shot, you need patience. The brain’s prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in the ability to be patient. If your PFC is weak, you tend to be more impulsive and less capable of exercising patience. Boosting dopamine levels is one of the best ways to strengthen the PFC. Higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diets tend to help, as does physical exercise, and certain stimulating supplements, such as rhodiola, green tea extract, l-theanine, and ashwagandha.
5. Kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). If the vaccine fills you with frightening thoughts, such as, “If I get the vaccine, it will give me COVID” or “I’m going to have terrible side effects from the vaccine,” recognize that these are signs of an ANT infestation. You need to challenge these thoughts. Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down your negative thoughts. Next, ask yourself if they are really true, or if they are a bit distorted to make you feel worse. Focusing your mind on rational thoughts will help you feel much better.
6. Calm panicky feelings. If the vaccine causes you so much stress that it makes you have a panic attack, follow these 4 steps to break an anxiety attack. Anxiety, panic attacks, overwhelming stress, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 855-709-8304 or visit our contact page here.