Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma and has worked with hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues.
What Dr. Cira can say in an interview on
Travelling, COVID Testing, and Anxiety:
I recently travelled to Aruba where we encountered alllllll the drama of travel during a global pandemic, so I’m uniquely positioned to speak to these concerns.
Effectively coping with anxiety means that you try to let go of the things outside of your control and DOUBLE DOWN on the things you CAN control. This is a LOT easier said than done, but it’s a good place to start. Here’s what you can (and should!) control when it comes to COVID precautions while traveling:
- Have a backup plan for testing. It can be difficult to find an appointment during this Omicron surge. For peace of mind, you might want to book at a couple of different places in case one of the places runs out of tests or takes longer to return results. Having a backup plan is always a good idea when it comes to managing the anxiety that comes with uncertainty.
- Ensure that you are booking at a reputable place. There are lots of scam COVID testing sites popping up, looking to capitalize on people’s desperation. Read the reviews of the place(s) you book to ensure you are not creating more stress for yourself down the road.
- Find it in writing what exactly they offer (rapid, PCR, rapid PCR, etc.) and exactly how long it will take to get results back. Oftentimes the people answering the phones may not be entirely clear or are so busy they struggle to listen well. Take the time to do your research so that you can feel confident that you are booking the right test at the right place which helps ensure that you will have what you need when you need it.
- Get the travel/COVID insurance on your ticket. It would SUCK to have to cancel, especially due to a positive test result, but the only thing that makes that situation better is if you are not losing a lot of money along the way.
- When it comes to managing Covid anxiety while traveling, I must add that buying proper PPE is often essential for peace of mind. Currently the CDC is encouraging the use of a high quality mask (N95 or KN95) with a cloth mask over the high quality mask. You might also want to bring clorox wipes and hand sanitizer because while airplanes are proving to be fairly safe due to the amount of air turnover, airports—due to the sheer volume of people you will encounter—increases your exposure by a lot.
Okay, so we’ve covered what you can control, but what about what you *can’t* control?
- Consider the worst case scenario. Oftentimes we avoid really thinking through the worst case scenario because it’s so anxiety-producing to do so, but avoidance only makes anxiety worse. So just go there. Think through exactly what would happen if you tested positive and needed to cancel your trip. Then get curious: 1) What’s so bad about the worst case scenario? 2) Would anything truly catastrophic happen if the worst case scenario happened? 3) What *specifically* feels most awful about the worst case scenario? Not seeing family? Worried about what COVID will be like? Feeling like you really NEED this break?? Once you know *exactly* what the worst case scenario is, you’re likely to feel like you can handle it, and the parts that truly do feel terrible, you can figure out a different way to manage. The alternative solutions won’t make up for not going on your trip, but they can likely get you through the moment.
- Try not to dwell. It’s easy to fall down “worry rabbit holes” about all of the things that can go wrong. Worry is made extra alluring because your brain interprets worry as productive. Planning (see above) is productive, but sitting and spinning is not productive at all and actually takes a huge toll on your mental and eventually physical health. So when you catch yourself worrying about something, ask yourself if you have control over it. If the answer is yes, figure out what you can actually DO about it. If the answer is no, get engaged in something else. Take a walk, grab a drink of water, pour yourself a cup of (caffeine free) tea, turn on some music, and exercise. Whatever you need to do to get fully engaged in the present rather than worrying about the future.
- Start a practice of meditation, yoga, deep breathing, etc. Lowering baseline levels of anxiety will help longterm when acute/situational anxiety peaks.
Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Master’s and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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