7 Ways To Tame Your Daily Anxiety If You Were Already Anxious Before All of This
Were you already suffering from anxiety before the pandemic forced us all into confinement? Chances are that your symptoms may have worsened with this new mode of existence. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your anxiety, even in the most difficult of situations.
There is simply no denying that in a world already rife with alienation and anxiety, this whole Covid-19 catastrophe has shot many people’s stress and anxiety levels through the roof—particularly those who were already anxious on a good day–although some people’s anxiety levels have been reported to be lower than usual!
Regardless of the medical, financial and emotional specifics of your personal situation in this time of isolation, quarantine, and confinement, chances are, you’re dealing with a hefty dose of fear, anxiety, doubt, and quite possibly, a whole lot of other volatile feelings too.
At a time like this, having strategies for dealing with anxiety and living more in harmony with one’s current life situation is vital. After all, anxiety comes from fear and uncertainty of the unknown, and a fixation on worst case scenarios—even when they haven’t happened yet.
As author and spiritual guide Michael Beckwith so aptly puts it, “worrying is like praying in reverse.” Indeed, the more we focus on what it is we don’t want to become a reality, the more it tends to take over.
Particularly if you’re like me and have always been an anxious soul, having a toolbox full of go-to methods for relieving the pressure can be a game-changer. Here are 7 tips worth trying!
1. Don’t stay camping on your couch
Never—I repeat, never—underestimate the power of exercise. Getting your heart rate up changes your chemistry, increasing the presence of key anti-anxiety chemicals in your brain, including serotonin, which contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
So pick your pleasure: running, biking, jumping rope, long hikes, you name it. If you can’t go outside, find an exercise or yoga video online, learn to juggle, have a dance party in your kitchen, or conquer your stairs by walking or running up and down them x number of times.
2. Get in touch with your mind
If you’re not the meditating type, I feel you. But if there was ever a time to experiment with meditating (and the deep breathing that often accompanies it), now could be it. When we experience stress, our bodies respond by preparing for fight or flight.
This is your stress response. Those who meditate regularly have been shown to develop changes in their stress response which allow them to experience less stress overall and recover from stresses more easily. If you’re ready to try, here are some starter’s tips.
3. Adjust your nutrition
It’s hardly a surprise that our resistance to ‘comfort’ foods goes down when our stress levels spike. While indulging can lower stress, as always, balance is key.
If you lack basic nutrients or eat foods that tend to increase agitation, it can be harder to keep your stress in check. Since stress itself can make digestion harder, help your body along: don’t skip meals, cut down on coffee, alcohol and sugar, and stay well hydrated.
4. Resist the urge to stay up late
Did you know that when you dream, the brain processes emotions in a low-stress environment, in turn taking the edge off your waking life experiences?
Fact: adequate sleep is key to managing stress hormone levels, and yet stress can trigger insomnia. So while you may be among those who no longer have a regular schedule to stick to, try to resist the urge to stay up till 4am and get up at 2pm. Research on circadian rhythms says you get better rest if you sleep while it’s dark out.
5. Don’t take isolation too literally
Just because you’re isolated doesn’t mean you need to feel alienated. Make an effort to schedule phone and video calls with family, friends, or anyone else you don’t share a home with.
Other humans are sources of much needed perspective, and hopefully humor, too. There’s a great app called Houseparty for group video chats. Odd though it may seem, remember that humans have never been more united in a common experience than we are right now.
6. Answer the call of nature
If you’re able/allowed/comfortable going outside, take advantage of the opportunity to get fresh air, sun, or, if you’re lucky, breathe in the freshness of leaves, trees and soil in a natural setting.
If you need to stay inside for now, take advantage of your balcony or sit in front of an open window or in a sunny corner for a period of time each day. Just 20 minutes of contact with nature can lower stress hormone levels!
7. Schedule time to unplug
At a time when everyone and their dog has their news stations on 24/7 waiting for the latest updates on the virus, possible financial help, and ever-evolving restrictions around lockdown specifics, efforts not to obsess may seem laughable. But although being informed is important, constant news consumption can be harmful to your wellbeing and your anxiety levels. Try limiting your news intake to one period of time per day. At the very least, don’t get sucked in right before bed.
Bottom line: anxiety and stress are normal human reactions, and can be useful in moments of clear and present danger. But when your stress hormones are consistently and chronically high over longer periods, it becomes harder to break free from an overall paradigm of anxiety.
Yet, tough times can be exceedingly beautiful times. If you’re up to the challenge, you could find yourself a healthier, more relaxed, energized human being on the other end of all this.
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