Many of us have been struggling to control our anxiety during the pandemic. If you were to look at the news today, the headlines alone will be enough to terrify anyone. Global pandemic is on the rise, a new strain of virus was discovered in a village somewhere and it looks like we are all on a brink of a Third World War. Unemployment is rising, our jobs will be replaced by immigrants and then by robots and there will be no animals or living creatures left in a few decades.
A lot of my clients struggle with crippling anxiety right now, and I wanted to share a few of my personal tips on how to stay focused during this wave of insanity.
1. It’s ok to be anxious. There is nothing wrong with you.
It means you are a human. Being a functioning human means you get to have a full spectrum of emotions. The beautiful ones as well as the uncomfortable ones. We don’t get to have and appreciate the beautiful emotions without having experienced the discomfort first. This is how life goes. When you experience loss it makes you appreciate life. When you get to experience loneliness it makes you value having a friend or a partner. And so on. Anxiety is just a feeling. It is dangerous only when it is resisted, left unchecked or bottled down with pills, alcohol or other distractions. Or when you judge yourself for having anxiety and not being happy. This just adds on more anxiety (you are anxious about being anxious!)
2. Bring more daily routines and rituals to your life.
The best way to deal with uncertainty in the world is to bring certainty in those areas of your life that you have control over. Our body and mind LOVES daily rituals and routines. Such as reading before bed, getting up and going to sleep at the same time, having meals during the same time of day. Having a bath on a Sunday morning, meeting friends for breakfast on Saturdays (even if it is online). Calling a friend on a Thursday lunch break. Doing 10 minutes of yoga three mornings per week or your daily meditation (even if it is 2 minutes).
3. Focus on the present.
What is anxiety? Anxiety shows up with inability to stay in the present. It is when we worry about the future or wish we had dome something different in the past. When you are focused on the now, the present, you don’t have anxiety. Meditation is great for brining your focus to the present. So is daily movement. Speaking of which:
4. Daily walking.
One of the things I am most grateful for during the pandemic is that it has led me to enjoy outside more. I have learned to love my daily walks and they have replaced my meditation. I now walk everywhere I can and make excuses to buy something or have a coffee somewhere I need to walk to. My daily goal is 10.000 steps. I don’t always get them done, but this is what I aim for. This is when my blood is pumping oxygen and I get super-happy and energetic.
5. Restrict your consumption of news and the press.
When you know that reading something will lead you to feel anxious, you need to take care of yourself in advance and introduce discipline. Cut out the news completely (some call it a digital detox) or limit your time to 20 minutes twice a day. If something happens you will find out about it from your friends or relatives, trust me. Binge-reading terrible news or watching them on TV is unnecessary and will lead to more anxiety.
6. Distance yourself from those who panic.
If you have friends or relatives who are always talking about the news, war, stock-market crashing or other things that make anxious, tell them to stop. Or better, remove yourself from proximity of these people, at least for the time-being.
Remember, this is you taking care of yourself and your mental health.
7. Add some positive thoughts into the mix.
Sometimes it can be easier to remove or decrease something from your life by crowding it out. When my clients need to quit coffee, for example, I get them to try brining chicory coffee or tea into their diet. That way, they do not get to quit something ‘cold-turkey’, the bare thought of which can feel terrifying. Instead, they get to have a coffee after they have had tea or chicory. And they crave it much less. And they don’t have any anxiety about it
So with all the thoughts and anxiety, try asking yourself the following questions:
- How can this be good news?
- What is this here to tell me?
- What am I learning from this in the process?
- How can I make this work for me?
- What is the best thing or revelation that happened to me because of this?
8. Plan for the future.
Even thought this may seem like the hardest thing right now, future will be here at some point. And this gives us an opportunity to change something in our life and accommodate for this change.
For example, it could be learning new digital skills or planning the trip that you have always wanted to take. Making a list of books to read. Deciding to change the job that you hate and learning the skills for it. Having the desire for deeper connections and making time for finding new friends. Changing your priorities.
Who do you want to be when this is over? What will be important to you? Which thoughts, people or values will no longer serve you?
Think of this time as an opportunity for self-focus and transformation and you will become a whole new person by the end of this.
If you need help with anxiety I can help. To learn about me and how I can help you, please book a free session here.