It is no secret that stress plays a significant role in and can consequently have profound impacts on both our physical and psychological health.
We face an unprecedented situation, which is full of uncertainty and ‘what ifs’. Therefore, it is difficult as we face our own and global anxieties surrounding COVID-19. When external distractions are slowly being removed and there is such exposure of this virus on the news it is difficult for our fears to not escalate!
So what can we do to help alleviate our anxiety?
Focused breathing exercises can really help. This can be as simple as breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth deeply when anxious feelings cloud your thoughts. The app ‘Headspace’ is fantastic for focused breathing activities.
Visualisation techniques can also be of merit. Visualise doing a body scan – start with your head, face, shoulders, chest, arms, back, legs and down to your feet. This helps to centre you and take your attention off your thought process. There are visual scanner apps also available for download.
If you are able to get out into the fresh air and walk, do so regularly, I would recommend at least once daily.
If you find your thought pattern is unhealthy to distract yourself, notice three things around you, the shape, colour, size and texture. Observe it and be curious about it.
Try to establish as much of a structured routine as possible. The closer it is to your ‘normal working routine’ the more this will help your mental health and calm your anxieties. Write this down in a visual manner that you can see regularly.
Make a conscious choice about where you get your information from— there are some fearmongering headlines out there, and with public hysteria climbing a constant stream of news does more harm than good. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep yourself informed and aware, but choose carefully where you’re getting your information from and limit yourself to two or three times a day. For the rest of the day resist the urge to check your social media accounts and news alerts, live your life without constantly being glued to the media.
Notice how you’re feeling. Does your breath catch, your chest tightens, your heart race? Notice your physical sensations. Instead of allowing yourself to trigger up or going through a downward spiral, can you soften it into a deep breath? If you are still unable to shake off your stress. Then try adjusting to it and reframing it rather than resisting it. Feeling some COVID-induced anxiety is going to be natural and warranted in this current climate. Accept those feelings as valid squashing your feelings with artificial positivity is unhelpful,
Differentiate between your types of anxiety. is the anxiety you feel a result of things like too much caffeine, an influx of social media before bed, and not enough sleep? If you can change these factors, chances are you’ll reduce some of your anxiety levels
On the other hand, there is the anxiety that we feel that needs to be channelled and not suppressed. Rather than fueling the anxiety fire, try to adjust to and reframe the situation, figure out what you can learn from this experience, as this can help lessen our anxious thoughts
The next time you feel yourself start to spiral up or down, use these strategies at any time (global pandemic aside), hopefully, these methods will help you to self-regulate your anxiety levels.
Being able to reflect upon how you are feeling and being honest with yourself with no judgement is essential in this current climate. Be kind to yourself and remember everyone is in this together.
If you or anyone you know is struggling then please, reach out in these uncertain and challenging times.
Stay safe and be well Pip x