Here's how you can take care of yourself during times of high anxiety

The ramped-up stress placed on health-care professionals and other essential workers on the job during the country’s response to COVID-19 is not limited to their ranks.

Anxieties test everyone in a pandemic, Laurie Nadel, a psychotherapist who specializes in the effects of trauma, tells PEOPLE. Jobs have been lost or put on hold; kids who would be in school are finishing classes on the couch; parents and couples who go their own ways to work may be forced to spend full days sharing confined spaces under stay-at-home orders; reduced income means hard choices about where to spend the money.

“You may find that it’s difficult to eat, it’s difficult to sleep, focus, concentrate, a feeling that another shoe is about to drop, a loss of appetite, a desire to numb out with drugs or alcohol,” says Nadel, author of The Five Gifts: Discovering Hope, Healing and Strength When Disaster Strikes. “There’s a tendency to isolate and withdraw from other people when we get overwhelmed by disturbing events, which can also be disturbing to people who are witnessing these events by seeing them online or on TV.”

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