2019 has changed the course of humanity – the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in one of China’s wet markets has spread like wildfire to every corner of the world, leaving precious lives at stake. The entire world altogether is experiencing a situation that was only heard of in history books and reports. The fear of being close to any person, let alone a person who might be carrying the virus, has resulted in an almost apocalyptic situation. The acute conditions, in turn, have not only impacted people’s lives from an economic and financial perspective, but also from an emotional and psychological perspective.
With over 2.5 million lives having been infected by the pandemic globally and no vaccine available for its treatment so far, it’s indeed a nerve-wracking situation for everyone. According to mental health professionals, experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety in such a situation is normal. However, if these feelings are left unattended and unresolved, it might result in the deterioration of one’s mental health and emotional well-being. In this article, we present to you 12 tips that will help in reducing anxiety during a time like this.
1. Accept the Reality
Perhaps the most crucial step to deal with any uncertain situation is to accept it and not run away from it. Ignoring reality causes you to live in a bubble that will burst sooner or later. The outbreak of a pandemic, no doubt, is a worrying situation – you’re hearing news of people losing their jobs, more and more people being infected, and others dying from the disease with every passing day. All of this might take a toll on you and you may want to numb yourself to the facts. But remember that turning your face away from the reality will only make things worse.
The solution to this is to validate your feelings – accept the uncertainty and make yourself available to whatever life is offering. Be at peace with the circumstances and align your inner self with the reality of life. This will give you a sense of control and comfort, knowing that you aren’t alone in what you’re experiencing.
2. Take Time to Meditate
One of the best techniques to cope with anxiety is to practice stillness – a kind of relaxation technique where you focus on deep breathing and make yourself available in the moment. Also known as meditation, this practice reduces your stress hormones and gives you clarity of thought to be able to move forward with a clear mind. It also brings your inner creativity and problem-solving ability to life, in the middle of all the chaos and worry.
Practicing mindfulness by sitting away from all the distractions, observing your thoughts and letting them pass by while focusing on your breathing is known to improve the mood and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. A simple activity such as this can help you fight your demon of anxiety and remain peaceful.
Our bodies are built to move and be exerted in physical work. While you’re self-isolating and are at home, you’ll have to push yourself to get moving. You don’t have to sit back on the couch the whole day; do some sort of exercise every day. Whether it’s a walk outside in nature or an online yoga class with your favourite instructor, take it upon yourself to spare some time daily for stretching your muscles. Doing this will not only improve your physical health but will help you in reducing anxiety and boosting immunity as well – something much needed during the pandemic.
4. Stay Connected Virtually
One of the best things for reducing anxiety, loneliness, and depression is to stay connected with your people. While you may feel like limiting your interaction with others when you’re feeling anxious, staying in touch with a few close friends and your loved ones is important. Through FaceTime, phone calls, or perhaps messaging you can break the cycle of negative thoughts and stay sane. Also, utilize the extra time you have to strengthen your relationship with others. Even if it’s virtually and be there to hear them out as well.
5. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time alone in nature is known to be one of the best antidotes for anxiety and depression. Rightly so – communing with nature gives you a sense of calm, frees your mind from worries, and gives a sense of satisfaction. It uplifts your mood by shifting your focus from your devitalizing thought patterns to the bounties of nature – the beauty of life. So, when anxiety kicks in, go out in your garden and water your plants, walk on the lush grass barefoot, feel the soothing breeze. Maybe, sit under the shade of a tree and experience the calmness and serenity of nature.
6. Laugh a Little
Humour and laughter in a time of crisis may seem like a far-off idea but they can enhance your spirits and make you feel better. Laughter releases muscle tension and contributes to your overall well-being. Though it’s a simple act, laughing has countless positive effects on your mind and body – better blood circulation, improved digestion, and stronger immunity to name a few. Therefore, make conscious efforts to enjoy a bit of humour here and there.
7. Do What You Can to Stay Safe
Anxiety can result from a prevailing sense of panic over things that aren’t in your control. Taking the appropriate actions, however, as much as possible, to protect yourself from the pandemic can help in reducing anxiety significantly. Whether it’s staying indoors, practicing good hygiene, or maintaining a distance from others, do whatever your conscience guides you to.
8. Seek Help
Even though you are not in a position to visit your best friend to vent out or your therapist for that matter, this does not have to mean that you keep suffering alone. If your anxiety starts to worsen, consider joining an online help group, or attend a virtual therapy session. Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Daylio, (some free and others with paid subscriptions) can help in reducing anxiety and improving mental health.
9. Be of Service to Others
Take the pandemic crisis as an opportunity to be selfless, while being precautious of course, and you’ll see your anxiety and restlessness coming down. Helping others out while you feel overwhelmed yourself is a great way to make the best out of a situation. It also gives you a better perspective on life.
10. Practice Gratitude
Writing a “gratitude journal” positively impacts your psychology. It helps focus on the blessings you have, rather than complaining about the things you can’t have. Try being more grateful and notice how your perspective changes completely.
11. Eat Healthily
We’ve heard it – you are what you eat – right? Don’t forget to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes fresh and organic produce, and your energy levels, immunity, and brain health, all will improve. As a result, you can reduce your anxiety and you’ll feel calmer.
12. Stay Positive
Finally, being optimistic about the future will drive you through the crisis without giving in to your anxiety. No matter how bleak things seem, stay positive, stay active, and hope for the best!