Many people go day to day with feeling the odd anxious twinge, it is a normal reaction. It means our bodies are gearing up, getting ready to make us safe and making us aware that something ‘out of the ordinary’ might happen or is happening.
There are situations we worry about that are happening right now or have a very high possibility of happening and then there are the ‘what if’ worries that haven’t happened or have a low chance of occurring. The what if worries are called catastrophising, we think about the worst case scenario in an attempt to prepare ourselves but then we find we can’t stop them, they become intrusive thoughts and feelings that don’t help.
Who is feeling anxious?
Today, in the middle of this crisis, the majority of us will be feeling anxious for a huge number of reasons. We are facing many changes in all areas of our lives, it is the main topic of conversation and we don’t have a time frame of when it is going to end. I have noticed that some people with certain anxieties are finding calm or at least finding it easier to mange their emotions. If you have never felt anxiety like this or your anxiety has increased and you are struggling, remember you are not alone in this.
What can I do to manage it?
Communication. Self isolation and social distancing does not mean stopping all conversations with family and friends. We are social beings (yes even the introverts!) and we need to have support and communication with our loved ones even more at the moment. We are lucky to live in the digital age and we have many ways to connect each other. Reach out to someone you can trust, accept help from local volunteers or, if you are able, offer to volunteer yourself.
Flip your thoughts/write it down. So you are feeling overwhelmed, a bit panicked. You are snapping at everyone around you and sometimes you feel like its hard to breath or you just want to cry. Take a few minutes away and write down your feelings. Is there a certain thing that is making you feel this way?
Listen to music. Music can create so many emotions, stick on your favourite playlist. Get your old records out. Watch a musical. Turn up the radio. Just sing. Release your emotions – be happy, be sad, be angry. I have really enjoyed the number of singers, DJs and musicians that are on Facebook and YouTube performing from their homes keeping peoples spirits up. Family or friends don’t like your music/singing try using head phones and silently singing but with the same amount of passion!
Be productive. Some people who are unable to work from home realise that they don’t know what to do with an extended period of downtime, after all even when we have holidays we are doing something! Fill your time is there something you always wanted to watch on telly, a book to read, do you have art supplies gathering dust you can do with the kids (or by yourself), Clean the house, do the garden. Keeping busy is a good way to manage anxiety, but choose one or two things or you may become overwhelmed with an endless to do list.
Mindfulness/meditation/relaxation. Meditation/breathing and grounding techniques all help with general anxiety but it does take practice. Be gentle with yourself – if focusing on your breath makes it worse listen to some soothing music or do a mindful activity where you focus on one thing like colouring in. Both Headspace and Calm websites have free resources listed below and YouTube has great range of relaxation videos for free as well.
Keep to a schedule/lower your expectations. You have started with good intentions of getting up and doing certain things in the day but now you aren’t even sure what day it is and you are all slopping around the house in your pjs and binge watching Netflix/Amazon Prime with no sense of time. STOP! Keeping to a schedule in the long term is healthier for your body and mind. Get up at a reasonable time, make your bed, get dressed and plan your day.
Stuck in with the kids and not working or even if you are working – you don’t have to become Teacher of the Year! You cannot do it all. Small learning tasks that are fun, household chores and play are sufficient to keep the kids entertained. If not educational TV programmes and even monitored time playing on the computer will fill up the day. No kids? See Be Productive.
Reduce your social media time. By this I mean don’t keep checking the news or idly scrolling through Facebook. Continually reading about the current events can keep our anxiety levels up. Allow yourself certain times of the day to browse then switch off. When you do go online, use the internet for fun, read heart-warming stories, look at pictures of cute animals or better still why not do something productive like take an online course – there are lots of different sites that offer education, business and fun courses and some of them are free.
I hope some of these examples/resources are useful and you can reduce your anxiety or at least helps you understand how someone else may be feeling and how you can support them.