Today’s world provides many opportunities for stress and anxiety. Especially during the current COVID19 pandemic. It is important to know how to deal with our anxiety in healthy ways.
1. Recognize and acknowledge your anxiety. It is completely normal to be anxious when confronted with the unknown. It is important not to attempt to ignore your feelings, or to expect them to go away. Anxiety is the way our brain keeps us safe. Acknowledging your anxiety and recognizing it as a normal part of life allows space to manage your feelings in healthy ways. Allowing ourselves to experience anxiety as a benefit to survival instead of wrestling with it actually reduces the feelings of anxiety.
2. Take note of your thoughts. Our thoughts lead to an emotional response. If our thoughts are based on emotion, it is difficult to recognize truth. Emotions are real, and often very compelling. They are not, however, usually facts. It is important to seek facts and to apply them to your emotions. It is important to know the facts about the spread of the Coronavirus. Facts such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds help prevent the spread of COVID`19. Once we know our anxious thought, we are better able to hold it against facts and to keep runaway thoughts in check.
3. Use healthy coping skills. Participate in a hobby. Take a break and sit outside. Notice the sights and sounds you experience. Watch funny videos, movies, or memes. Listen to uplifting music. Read a book or your favorite blogs. Cook or bake something delicious to eat. Play board games. Pet your family pet.
4. Practice meditation and relaxation techniques. Progressive relaxation reduces muscle tension often resulting from anxiety. Free apps are available on both Android and iOS to guide you through progressive relaxation or meditation techniques. These may be done before bed, upon waking, and throughout the day. Pay attention to the cues your body is giving you. Where are you holding your anxiety? What muscles are being affected? Are your shoulders pulling up toward your ears? Are you clenching your jaw? Relaxing the muscle groups in your body helps to reduce anxiety. Practicing yoga and deep breathing exercises help to center your thoughts and emotions. YouTube offers many yoga videos that can be practiced at home in your living room and are a great aid to manage and reduce anxiety.
5. Practice healthy living habits. Keep to a routine. Try to get up and go to bed around the same time each day. Prepare and eat healthy meals. Refrain from consuming too much caffeine or sugar. Drink plenty of water. Eat plenty of greens. Get enough sleep.
Although this is a time of increased stress, it is important to know that these stressors can be managed in a healthy way. Anxiety is a part of life, but doesn’t have to define how we live!
If using these coping skills is not enough, it is time to seek professional help. Services are available online to assist you with social distancing during the COVID-19, but will continue even after. Therapy services are an important tool and can help you gain peace of mind.