Anxiety is our body's natural response to stress. Millions of people face anxiety due to crises and disasters. It could be the betrayal of a mate, economic crises, health issues, or natural disasters. Also, it could be anxiety from giving a talk in front of a large audience, meeting your partner's parents for the first time, or taking on a difficult task.
In recent times, many more have been suffering from anxiety disorders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each time you listen to or read coronavirus news, how do you feel? Do you experience a sudden increase in heart rate? It's even worse when someone develops any of the related symptoms.
It is normal to feel anxious but constant anxiety is destructive. Worry doesn't lengthen our lives, it shortens it. It should gladden your heart to know that you can stop being anxious. How? Well, the following tips for managing anxiety during these tough times will help.
When you experience feelings of anxiety, sit down, and take deep breaths. Often times when we are anxious, our heart rate increases and we get sweaty palms. To gain some semblance of balance, get yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and practice deep breathing. Breathe in and out slowly until you feel your heart rate decreasing.
As you deeply breathe in and out, tell yourself this: "It'll be fine. You're going to do just fine". Such breathing exercises will help ease some of your anxiety and help you relax.
Detect What Triggers Your Anxiety
What is bothering you? The symptoms of anxiety are often more obvious than the causes. So try to figure out what's causing your anxiety. We can only solve a problem when we identify it.
So, after taking deep breaths, take some time to identify what's making you anxious. If you can't think it through, pen it down. Put down your jumbled thoughts on a piece of paper. It really helps with trying to identify what could be wrong.
If the above doesn't help, talk to a mature friend. He or she can help put your thoughts into perspective.
Once you can identify the trigger, limit your exposure to it. If it's anxiety about COVID-19, try to listen to coronavirus news less. Heed the advice of the NHS. Wash your hands regularly, use a face mask, and practice social distancing in public. This will help reduce your health anxiety.
Live One Day At A Time
Anxieties are part of our daily life. Keep in mind though that some things are inevitable. There's nothing you can do about them. Fretting over them will only increase your stress.
So, do not increase today's stress by adding tomorrow's to them. Also, what we often fear, does not turn out the way we expect.
Most times, we are anxious about what is yet to occur. As a health care worker, you might be constantly worried about contracting the virus. As a COVID-19 patient, you may be worried about your symptoms worsening. Those without the virus are worried about getting it.
The thing is, the present is here, the future is yet to come. The only thing you have control over is the present. So why don't you focus on it?
Life is unpredictable; full of time and unforeseen occurrences. Even when you think you're fully prepared for the future, you never know what might happen. So, focus on the now that is within your control.
Focus On What Can Be Changed
Instead of worrying about developing a serious health complication, be grateful for your present state of well-being. If you are ill, go to a hospital. Don't do google diagnosis. That will only make you more anxious.
Many are also suffering from financial stress and anxiety during this COVID-19 pandemic. Some have lost their jobs while others are suffering massive losses as independent businesses. In the midst of all these, it's important that you pay attention to and be mindful of your mental health.
What you can do: If there's a notice about downsizing at work, don't overthink it. Instead, take action. Start looking up job vacancies in advance or think of what else you can do to support yourself and your family. This is not encouraging pessimism. It's encouraging practical wisdom. Such practical wisdom will help you cope with stress and reduce your anxiety.
If you're diagnosed with COVID-19, remember that it's not a death sentence. There is a high chance that you will recover.
No matter how overwhelming a problem is at the moment, ask yourself: "Will this problem still be a big issue tomorrow or next week?" Take it one day at a time, dearest.
Think Of And Do Something Else
Instead of focusing on your fears and uncertainties, try to think of and do other things. Get busy. It won't take away the problem but it can help you deal with it
For example, help others. It could be a fellow patient or your patient. In the course of helping others, you take your mind off your own problems. You might even realize that your problems are not so bad. People deal with and have successfully dealt with worse.
Also, you will find a measure of happiness. After all, the ancient book, the Bible, says that "there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving".
Other things you can do are:
Read a good, uplifting, and refreshing book.
Listen to uplifting music.
Take a stroll.
Watch an amusing movie.
Develop a morning routine.
The point is this, amidst or after doing any of these, you will find a sense of order and relief from the stress-causing anxiety.
"Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind". Make time to relax. Doing things you enjoy and sleeping right helps relieve stress and anxiety. So, instead of keeping your eyes glued to your PC or phone deep into the night, get some good sleep.
Exercise regularly. Exercise can improve your mood and your body's reaction to stress.
If it's work- or school-related stress, make a list of what needs to be done in order of priority. Focus on the more important things. Take it one at a time.
Delegate what can be delegated and eliminate what's unnecessary. This will help relieve the pressure on you. Do not forget to include some downtime to reinvigorate yourself.
Don't deal with your anxieties alone. Talking to an understanding person can help you see things differently or get you a solution. Just sharing our problems takes some of the burdens off us.
Surround yourself with kind and compassionate friends who know how to build up with their kind words. This is a trusted strategy for coping with anxiety and stress.
Never underestimate the power of prayer. If you believe in God or not, pray. God doesn't discriminate. As long as you are ready to talk to Him, He's ready to listen to you and give you the kind of peace that surpasses all thoughts.
Meditating, that is, thinking deeply about wholesome and uplifting things can give you deep inner peace as well.
If your anxiety is caused by being at loggerheads with someone else, forgive him or her. Why?
In the Journal Of Health Psychology, Loren Toussaint states, "forgiveness protects health". He also added: "Forgiveness is the release of negative - and the potential enhancement of positive - feelings, emotions, and behaviors toward an offender". So, a forgiving spirit can help minimize your stress and by extension, your anxiety.
What If My Anxiety Still Doesn't Go Away?
Seek the help of mental health professional. Just as depression is a mental-related health issue, so are stress and anxiety. If you start experiencing panic attacks, it's a sign that you should take this step. Choosing to do this is not a sign of failure. That you can make this decision is a step in the right direction.
Health care workers are especially in need of such professional help in coping with coronavirus anxiety.