Our world is riddled with anxiety and anxiety. Finances. Aargh! How will we cover the rent/mortgage or have cash to pay for food once we’re out of work? We’re lonely and miss the times when we are able to be together with our friends and loved ones. If we have children, we agonize over what type of impact the lockdown is having on them, and when we will survive home-schooling and 24/7/365 childcare.
And then there is the very real possibility that we or our loved ones might come down with the virus. When our mind is hijacked by so many strong emotions, it might seem that there’s nothing we can do to reduce our fear or nervousness. Yet, there’s a way to handle how we feel. To begin, just breathe. Not only physically breathe, but use the B.R.EA.T.H.E.
Take three deep breaths, focusing only on your breath as you inhale (through your nose if you can) on a count of 4, hold for a count of 3, then exhale (through your mouth if you can) on a count of 4. This technique is known as a “pattern ” Whenever an anxious thought creeps upward, by focusing on your breathing for just a few minutes, you may interrupt the routine of anxiety or fearful emotions just long enough to calm down your racing thoughts, and your body’s over-active flight/fight response.
It calms your pulse and steadies you so that you can contact constructive thought. You know, the problem-solving selection, rather than the “Chicken Little the sky is falling” variety. So, the first step to control stress is to take three, slow, deliberate deep breaths whenever necessary. Reclaim your relationships with your loved ones, your significant other, your children and your friends. If you are with your children in your home, see it as a positive even when they are loud and demanding occasionally (OK, constantly ).
Appreciate this “forced togetherness” and see it as a special opportunity to grow near. The world wide web is filled with ideas and resources that may help you deal with being together intensely under a single roof. Moreover, make the effort to call, text and put up Zoom gatherings with extended family and friends. You need their support, and they want yours. Connection is more critical now than ever.
This isn’t a time to ignore the connections that matter to you. Find a secure person, someone you can trust with your mental life. Finding such a individual and interacting with them frequently can be a vital method of relieving your anxiety. This may be a counselor, a minister, or a health care worker, for instance. It’s tempting to unload on your BFF, but a professional is much better equipped to take care of your fears and anxiety on a continuous basis. A fantastic alternative – or adjunct – would be to express your emotions in a personal journal. Journaling gives you the chance to express your innermost feelings.
It’s your secure and private place to discuss the stresses you are feeling. Journaling can be cathartic as you’re no longer holding your feelings inside. You don’t need to become a writer to journal. You can scribble crap on a pad, anger throughout your computer, and be ungrammatical as you would like. Journaling is a release, not an exercise in either penmanship or prose. When we’re in the middle of a catastrophe, the trend is to allow our attention to drift back to the reason for your anxiety over and over. It keeps you up at night. All night. Not great for your health!
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Besides, rehashing your issues endlessly only succeeds in making you anxious, more stressed, more out of control. Deliberately, intentionally aim your focus. When you end up drifting into useless stress or questioning, take control and do everything you can to problem-solve. Be a MacGyver, get intrigued by what you can achieve with what is at hand, here and now, instead of sweating over what you can not, obsessively. Closely related to planning your attention is changing your negative thoughts.
Be attentive to when your ideas veer into negative thinking. Reframe them to more positive statements. Most importantly, be sincere. Don’t lie to yourself “Oh, it is going to be fine,” may become true, but if that is not what you think in the here and now, do not say it. One of my favourite reframes is “We’re one day closer to normal.” That, for me, has the ring of truth. Focus on the physical manifestations of anxiety or anxiety. Stick with a wholesome routine.
Don’t overeat or over beverage. Don’t allow the fridge or the drinks cupboard function as”go-to” when really you are simply bored. Boredom is significantly better relieved with exercise, or reading, or some sort of productive work than with munching your way through the day. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, because good sleep is among the body’s greatest restorative tools. Given that sleep can be hard once you’re stressed, consider using one of the calming meditations available online, usually at no cost, to help lull you into sleep.
Eliminate your anxious thoughts before you turn out the lights: throw them into an imaginary wastebasket. Follow that up with writing down a list of what you were thankful for this day, and let people be the ideas you take with you into slumber. You love working out in the gym-but the fitness center is closed. You look forward to your weekly game of tennis with your friends-but the gate to tennis courts is locked.
Don’t make the excuse of not exercising since exercise choices are no longer offered. Exercise in home-there are multitudinous YouTube exercise videos of all sorts. I’ve found enough ballet barre movies to keep me going for quite some time! Exercise is not only great for your body, it releases endorphins which help you get to a more positive, calmer, less anxious mindset. Wash your hands, watch social distancing, wear that mask, and B.R.E.A.T.H.E.! Hopefully we will all meet together on the reverse side of COVID-19, having weathered this challenging time successfully.