During an External Threat, Anxiety Rises
During this Covid19 pandemic we are all experiencing some fear, anxiety and/or a deep level of apprehension over the unknown*. People may be experiencing Covid19 symptoms or have been hospitalized with symptoms. These are fear-producing situations. Even if not experiencing any Covid19 symptoms, people still feel uneasy and stressed. The following suggestions may help decrease the anxiety or increase the calm during this Covid19 “storm.”
Turn OFF the news or social media. The news is FILLED to overflowing with messages of fear. If you must be informed, go to the appropriate sites for such news: fact-based places that you trust (be careful with even these choices because even some ‘trustworthy’ places try to raise readership/viewership through sensationalism and fear). Give yourself a time-limit for checking on numbers, figures or news. For example, check once in the morning and then check once in the afternoon. When you turn OFF the news, turn ON nature. Go for a walk. Enjoy nature and truly look at flowers, trees, squirrels, pigeons, swallows, and clouds. Things in nature do not worry and do not stress. Neither should you. Simply allow yourself to BE. Other suggestions: play with your children; do some gardening; play beautiful music; dance; create art; cook a new recipe; write in a journal; write your memoir.
Your Inner Self
Turn to your INNER self. Turn OFF your thoughts. Fear is a product of innumerable anxiety-filled thoughts that run in your head, chattering away at what could happen, what might happen and all the possible impossibilities. Our constant thought stream is like the news. There is no end to it.
Turn to your inner self by paying attention to your body. Start by feeling the inner energy of your hands. If you close your eyes, you can feel the subtle energy of your hands internally. This is the energy of the body. How often do you pay attention to your body unless it hurts? Subtle shifts in the energy of the body make a huge difference in how a person feels. Stretch the body. Bodies love stretching.
Pay attention to your breath. When you attend to your breath, you stop thinking. This helps us pause our thoughts just enough to allow us to experience this moment of now. Pay attention to your breathing for three to four breaths: 1. in breath—out breath; 2. in breath—out breath; and, 3. in breath—out breath. That is all. Do this five to six times a day. This will help you to refocus your energies to where they matter—inside of you. Practice every day. With practice, paying attention to the breath becomes a habit and eventually becomes a great tool for managing stressful situations that arise in life. Eventually, it could lead to meditation and mindfulness which increases awareness.
Express gratitude for what you have. Be thankful for relatively good health. If your loved ones are healthy, express gratitude. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat and ability to enjoy it, express gratitude. Start naming things that you can appreciate. Write them down. Keep a list of the ideas and add to them. Eventually, this list becomes a great resource. When you need to be “picked up,” refer to the gratitude list and you will begin to shift in how you feel. Gratitude is the fastest way toward feeling slightly better in a very difficult situation.
Even though we cannot change what is currently happening in our world, we can do some things to help us shift in our emotional state. The sequestered life may not be as pleasant but it does not have to be disastrous. While we follow specific covid19 guidelines of social distancing and washing, we can also take care of our emotional health. The above suggestions are not exhaustive but can be exactly what is needed to help subdue the nervousness and anxiety that we all are experiencing at this time. As with all things, this, too, shall pass.
* As with any extreme anxiety, please consult with a licensed mental health care professional to help you get through this difficult time. Many currently offer calls through telehealth.