Anxiety is described as worry, nervousness, unease at uncertain outcomes. It can cause restlessness, increase your heart rate, you may breathe rapidly, may experience trembling, sweating, feeling weak or tired or have trouble concentrating. During the pandemic anxiety has increased dramatically.
Key takeaways from our talk on anxiety were as follows:
- Get to know your anxiety, write about it in a journal and note the patterns. That will help you manage it better when it occurs and identify it in advance.
- Learn from others who are going through similar circumstances or responding with anxiety you identify with. Swap stories and coping mechanisms.
- Be kind to yourself
- Consume less negative news, social media. Be very picky about what you let in to your space. Be conscious of your choices and try and get off the screen (phone, tv) 2 hours before you sleep so you don’t carry those thoughts with you to bed.
- Build a healthy routine, eat food which is nutritious and boosts immunity. Exercise for 30 minutes a day. Sleep well and hydrate regularly.
- Challenge your self talk. It is normal for an anxious brain to pull you in to a spiral of worry and despair. Call out your fears and put things in perspective by focusing on what you can control in the present and short term.
- Slow breathing and mindfulness can help manage anxious thoughts which can take over without warning. Focus on your breath, breath in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts and breath out for 4. This will help regulate and ground your body, giving you a calmer perspective to what is worrying you.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation can help with stiff and sore areas of the body which are not getting a stretch. We tend to store our worry and anxiety in different parts of the body, which manifest as pain. Holding tension in specific parts for 3 seconds and releasing it will help relax it.
- Carry out small acts of bravery and commend yourself for it! Stepping outside your comfort zone can be invigorating!
- Plan your worry time. Slot 10 minutes for it and when your time is up, move on to your next planned task. If we don’t limit it, it can take up hours of our day, leaving us drained and frustrated.
- Your brain doesn’t know what to brace for next, it is in constant survival mode. It doesn’t know what next day, week or month will hold and is burning 10 times the energy to manage in its new environment. This is where you have to help regulate and calm it.
- You may find it difficult to focus because the brain has shut down some functionality in the prefrontal cortex to survive and navigate the current situation.
- Get Moving! If you find yourself sitting and lost in thoughts that are debilitating, get up and work off the energy with some physical activity or movement.
- Talk to a friend! It really helps to share. Try and limit how much you talk about it, move on to different topics so that the conversation is balanced.
- Consume less caffeine. You may be fueling an overactive mind which may result in fatigue.
- Feel Okay to say No! A very important approach now and always. guard your mental health and sanity.
- Don’t skip your meals or water.
- Give yourself an exit strategy in situations you cannot avoid, so that you are not anxious going into them.
- Live in the moment as the world and you are going through something new, we don’t know how things will unfold.
- We are used to future planning. Right now the brain knows being short sighted is an easier way to cope. That might be against your personality, but embrace it as the best way to deal with the NOW.
- The brain is EXTREMELY ADAPTIVE right now. Be patient with your brain. We won’t be on this roller coaster forever.
- Our plans, creativity, energy, focus, motivation is on a yo yo, don’t be upset with that. See it as a temporary flux and ground yourself through the turbulence. The part that juggles complex tasks and planning is activated as a stress response and other things will take a back seat.
- A lot of people may find their creativity is blocked. There is a lot of pressure to do something now, during the lockdown. Don’t stress about anything else but survival. The brain has diverted its ability to solve novel problems and that is the reason you may not feel creatively charged.
- Be kind to yourself and others. We are all in the same storm, though we may have different boats.
- A new normal will emerge and we will adapt to it. We accepted the current lockdown and quarantine and will persevere.
- Let’s use different words to make it positive: Quarantine (no) Retreat for Wellness (yes). Self Isolation (no) Saving myself (yes). Social distancing (no) Physical distancing (yes). Lockdown (no) Saving the community (yes).
Sandeep Adnani is a Mental Health Counsellor, who runs an online, phone and face to face counselling service on www.counsellinglife.com.au
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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