5 Tips for Managing Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Worry and fear are running rampant. Remember we're all in this together, and have the power to push through.
Written by Sylvia Glitner
01 Try to accept that things are out of your control. The best you can do, is focus on staying home and keeping your space clean.
02 Humans are social creatures. Isolation can trigger depression and anxiety, even in otherwise healthy people. Make efforts to stay digitally connected to friends and family.
03 The internet is full of false facts. Limit your news intake, and if you need updates, get them from trusted sources.
Staying calm and collected is important during high stress times, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing constant news about the number of people infected and the number of lives that have been lost is devastating. We all want to stay informed, but doing so is a sure-fire way to trigger anxiety, fear, paranoia and low mood.
Managing anxiety during the pandemic is essential to maintaining a clear mind, abiding by new regulations, and keeping yourself healthy. Anxiety and depression negatively affect your health and weaken your immune system. That's why it's crucial to adopt productive coping mechanisms. Here are some lifestyle tips that might help.
1. Stay Connected to Friends and Family
Social distancing needs to be respected physically but emotionally you should have the support of your loved ones. Coping with anxiety can be challenging if you live alone and have to be isolated at all times. The lack of contact can push people deeper into the well of dark thoughts.
Keep in touch with loved ones by calling, texting, or skyping. Luckily, most of us have the technological means to do so and establishing interaction shouldn't be hard. The safety you find in true connections with others will help you manage the stress response to this difficult situation.
2. Take Action Where You Can
Feelings of helplessness can easily increase anxiety. This virus is an invisible enemy. The uncertainty that idea creates causes us to build-up fear, and drives people to ruminate on the security of their health, job and family. Before you know it, anxiety has completely taken over your body.
Start by accepting that this current pandemic is outside of your control. The best thing you can do right now, is to respect regulation, wear protective gear likes gloves and masks, keep your home clean, and stock up on groceries at weekly intervals. Give yourself credit for taking these steps and carrying about the collective health of your community. If it helps, make daily lists to keep track of these tasks.
For those struggling with boredom or monotony, try something new. Start a journal to document your feelings, read a new book, begin writing for academic websites and blogs. New hobbies can help give you a sense of purpose and control.
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3. Limit the Time You Spend Online
The internet is full of false facts. Incompetent people are making predictions and sharing harmful advice. You might not have the power to change what people are saying, but you can choose what you expose yourself to.
Remember that you should be informed, not consumed. Online negativity can evoke anxiety in anyone, even those who are not typically anxious. That's why you need to limit your information intake. Create accountability circles with friends and family, through which people share important updates. This is an easy way to stay on-top of "need to know" news, while being connected to loved ones. When you do want to check up on the current situation, read information only from credible sources like:
4. Refrain from Making Big Decisions
The future is uncertain for everyone. You might feel as if you need to make some big changes now. This is a bad move. Making substantial life decisions while in a state of anxiety will only increase stress in the longterm.
Accept that there is nothing you can do right now except take care of yourself. That is your main job.
As Angelica Hayes, a writer at TrustMyPaper, said, “The thought of how all of this will affect my family and their jobs were taking my anxiety through the roof. My psychologist then helped me understand and accept that life is uncertain and that worrying won't help me or my family. I've been embracing that thought and I have to say that I feel much better.”
5. Relax Your Body and Mind
Calming your body and mind will directly make it harder for anxiety to kick in. However, accomplishing calmness is a process, not an instant solution. Your muscles get activated when you are in stress mode which means that relaxing your body consequently lessens the stress.
“Getting your heart rate up changes brain chemistry, increasing the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals,” explains John J. Ratey, MD. Practice calming activities that move your body and/or positively stimulate your mind like meditation, pilates, yoga, dancing, reading, or listening to music. Do whatever makes you happy and takes your mind away from current troubles.
Pathologizing or worrying about why you feel anxious will only make things worse. Anxiety is common right now. You are not alone, we are all in this together. Do your best to adopt healthy habits during this strange time, and be appreciative for your current health.