With the world in a state of a global pandemic, it’s easy to feel incredibly stressed out right now. People on social media joke that “my anxiety has anxiety,” and although it certainly feels that way, it does not have to be scary. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to manage my anxiety not only during a global crisis, but in my everyday life as well. Disclaimer: I am not a professional and I have not been clinically diagnosed with anxiety, however these tips have worked for me personally when I have bouts of anxiety attacks.
Stop and breathe.
When I notice myself getting flustered, I stop and take at least five deep breaths to calm myself down. There is also the box breathing method of inhaling for four seconds, holding in your breath for four seconds, and exhaling for four seconds, then repeating the cycle for up to four minutes. Whatever you’re worrying about can seem less daunting if you take a step back to calm down before tackling it and literally exhale the stress out.
I sometimes feel like my mind has a million thoughts racing around, so when I need a moment to quiet my mind, I turn my attention inward and meditate for at least 10 minutes. Recognizing the thoughts and letting them pass is a great way to not fixate on certain things that are out of your control, because what you can focus is your breathing and tuning out the noise.
Drink water or herbal tea.
Although I love coffee, I’ve noticed that too much caffeine can trigger my anxiety. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sometimes find that drinking water can calm me down. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven, according to a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry. The participants were separated into three groups: one that drank less than two glasses of water, one that drank 2-5 glasses of water, and one that drank more than five glasses of water. The study found that those who drank less than two glasses of water had an increased risk of depression compared to those that drank more. Along with water, I have been drinking a lot more herbal tea—these are some of my favorite teas that I’ve been gravitating toward lately.
Talk about it.
I’ve found that vocalizing my fears helps me realize that I am bigger than what I am worrying about. I’ve learned to ask, “What is the worst thing that could happen as a result of this situation?” and once I come up with my answer, I feel better knowing that if this is the absolute worst thing, I’ll now know how to manage it and wouldn’t be left ruminating over what could happen. Talking about your worries and anxieties with others too can help you see that you might be making the problem bigger in your head than it actually is. Our minds can often add negative thoughts or unnecessary worries, so talking about it with people you feel comfortable confiding in can help to work through what’s going on in your head and make it seem more manageable.
Don’t think so far into the future.
Something I realized about the patterns I was having when I would have anxiety attacks was that I was thinking too far into the future about things I could not control. Once I embraced that, I changed my thinking to only focus on the present moment and understand that I had more control than I thought. Try to remember that you may not be able to control the outcome of a situation, but you can control the way you react to it.
Get off of social media/turn off the news.
It’s so easy to fall into a state of panic by reading/watching the news, or develop feelings of doubt and emptiness when you start comparing yourself to others on social media. If it all seems like it’s too much, get off of your phone or turn off the TV. Just because the world is in despair doesn’t mean yours has to be, too. Occupy your time with something that fulfills you, whether it’s cooking, reading a book (nothing depressing!), or crafting.
Just because the world is in despair doesn’t mean yours has to be, too.
Take a walk outside.
When everything feels like it’s been too much, sometimes it’s just good to take a break and get some fresh air. Going for a walk or run can make a world of a difference to pause and get perspective in a different environment. Appreciating your surroundings and being outside to stop and smell the flowers can help you see that your problems are smaller than you think in the grand scheme of the world and even the universe. Remember to be gentle with yourself and know that everything will be okay—this too shall pass.