Many of us struggle with some form of anxiety and what we’re all experiencing due to COVID-19 has done us no favours in reducing those feelings. Now that everyone in the UK has been in lockdown for over 2 months, the list of questions is getting longer, the fear is increasing and the waiting around we’ve all had to do is making us more desperate for answers. I have noticed so many people getting stressed over the smallest things, including myself, because being anxious during this time is becoming ‘the new norm’. It’s a lot harder to focus on something that isn’t your own anxiety right now.
So…how do we fix this? Well, the truth is, there is no ‘fix’. No matter what we do, our feelings of anxiety are unlikely to go away completely during this time. However, there are ways to disengage and take a break from all this panic and worry.
I have rounded up some of the things that have helped switch my mind off when my anxiety has gone into overload. I hope it helps!
1. Keep a routine
I’m not going to lie, this is something I need to work on. If you don’t currently have a job, keeping a routine can be somewhat harder. However, it is so important that even if your normal daily routine has been affected, you try and maintain or create a new one. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Eat meals, bath, shower, exercise, get dressed in clothes that aren’t PJ’s. Having a routine will not only keep you active but make you far less likely to spiral. If you’re anxious about readjusting to the real world, this will make it a lot easier when things eventually go back to normal.
2. Stay connected
There has never been a better time to contact your friends or family. We are all going through very similar emotions right now and having someone to rely on can only help. Message the friends that you were supposed to a month ago. Ring the family member you haven’t spoken to since New Year’s. Having a chat can help release a lot of the negativity going on in your head and leave you with a much clearer and happier mind. Take the opportunity to reminisce on life before lockdown and make plans for when this is all over. When the conversation flows, the topics are generally positive and for a while at least, you’ll forget about being anxious.
3. Drink herbal tea
Lemon and honey is my favourite but any herbal tea will do! The peak of my anxiety is usually night-time but I have found drinking a herbal tea before bed helps me to relax. Herbal teas are also to soothe muscle aches and headaches that are often associated with anxiety so it’s definitely worth a try!
This could be jogging a youtube video in your bedroom or a cardio session in your garden. Exercise is a natural way of enhancing your wellbeing which couldn’t be more appropriate or necessary during this time. Not only does it have physical benefits but it’s proven to be an effective way of managing your mental health. When you exercise, you are releasing endorphins which generate a positive feeling in the body. Frequent physical activity can also make you more energetic, help you sleep better, and generally leave you more relaxed. For more benefits, try focusing on every movement during your workout. By actively practising and adding mindfulness, it can help stop the consistent flow of anxious thoughts.
5. Nature Walks
I realise that isn’t possible for everyone, but if you have access to beautiful scenery near your home, take advantage of it. Research all over the world has proved that engaging with nature is strongly linked to better mental well-being. A tranquil setting for walking alongside the light breeze that goes through the trees is incredibly calming and peaceful. Take in the sights and smells around you and allow your mind to be completely free for a while.
6. Find a different activity each day
Whether it’s baking a lemon loaf, cooking dinner, painting, drawing, blogging, journaling, or reading a book, find something to do that you know will require your full attention each day. If you can find a new activity that you love and include it in your lockdown routine, it will give you something to look forward to and keep your worrying mind occupied for a while.
6. Be mindful of one another
This is incredibly important if you are currently in lockdown with one or more people. Living through lockdown is a brand new experience for everyone and something that no one could have prepared for. Having independence and freedom to suddenly having people round all the time can be a big adjustment and increase our anxiety and stress levels massively. If you’re living other people, sharing confined spaces is likely to cause a bit of friction. It is essential that we are all mindful of this and find effective ways of accommodating and listening to each other’s feelings. Find a good time to sit down with the people in your household and explain that you’re anxious about this new lifestyle change.
7. Limit the news you read
With everything going on, it is important to stay informed but checking for an update every five minutes is not going to do your anxiety any favours. I suggest taking 20-30 minutes every morning and evening to read or watch the news. However, be sure to check your sources. There are so many bogus reports about what’s happening next from unreliable media outlets and social media. It is so easy to see one fake headline that then sends your anxiety into overdrive. When you are reading the latest government advice, make sure it is from a trusted, reliable source.
8. Do breathing exercises
When trying to lower your stress and anxiety levels, breathing exercises are incredibly useful. They may not get rid of your worries completely, but they will help to keep your mind under control. Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to lower stress in the body. When you focus on your breath, you are telling your brain to calm down which then sends the same message to your body. Breathing correctly is essential for your overall well-being. However, the more anxious you are, the shallower your breathing becomes, and the less oxygen your body is getting. Practising deep breathing exercises helps to reverse this process and allows both your mind and body to become calmer.