How to remain calm in periods of unrest: anxiety relief during COVID-19
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Coronavirus has changed the world as we know it. The fear of the pandemic reaching you or someone you care about, the rates of unemployment as high as the Great Depression, and the burden of isolation during quarantine; it’s a scary time to be alive. This is why it’s more important than ever to learn how to manage your anxiety, to avoid panicking and stay grounded.
In a recent survey by the American Psychiatric Association, 36 percent of Americans said the pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health. In another survey, 31 percent of Americans say their sleep is disturbed because of anxiety, and online mental health services like Talkspace have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for services - up by 65 percent!
We’re afraid of getting sick, or someone we love getting sick. We’re afraid of unknowingly spreading the virus. We’re afraid of losing our jobs and not having money to pay our rent. The fear is real, it would be insincere to downplay it. However, getting mentally sick is just as real as the fear of physical sickness, so we must protect ourselves.
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, here are some tips for you to stay physically and mentally healthy during these crazy times.
1. Stay connected
According to the American Psychological Association, depression and anxiety thrive in times of isolation. Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of all Americans claimed to feel often or always alone. As you can imagine, this figure has likely increased during lockdown. Physical connectedness is not a possibility during quarantine, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t connect with people emotionally.
Contact your friends, old and new, your family, your colleagues, your gym buddy. Reach out to people, it’s a mutual gift. Download Zoom for video calls and after a while, you’ll feel like you’re in a room with your friend.
When we are stressed or anxious, we forget to breathe. We start to take quick shallow breaths that increase our heart rate and anxiety. To increase feelings of calm, take slow, deep breaths and practice Buteyko breathing. To read more about Buteyko breathing please click here. A study that tested the efficacy of Buteyko breathing for anxiety found that it was able to significantly reduce anxiety.
3. Stimulate your senses
When you feel anxious or panic-stricken, you often disengage with your body. Think about the last time you felt anxious: your mind is racing but your body is on autopilot, you forget if you brushed your teeth even though your mind is buzzing. Not being present is a symptom and exacerbation of anxiety, so it’s important to stimulate your senses to help feel grounded. This can be done through deep breathing, meditation and using essential oils; preferably combining them together!
What is happening in the world right now is unavoidable, but it is your choice as to whether you engage in the fear and panic, or whether you engage in grounding work, stress-reduction and focusing on the good. Even if you can’t see it right now, there is always some good in all situations; so focus on that, and let it manifest.