Even the most mild-mannered people I know are dealing with some level of worry surrounding the current pandemic of COVID-19, the sickness caused by a novel strain of the coronavirus. Fear of getting sick or of loved ones getting sick, travel plans disrupted, job loss and an uncertain economic future are just a few examples of worries that billions of people around the world are currently experiencing. This isn’t even to mention the anxiety that may come with social isolation and the lack of in-person connection with others! (Click here for tips on building connection in the time of COVID-19.) Plus, it’s hard to feel a sense of calm in the sea of relentless breaking news, political polarization, and conspiracy theories.
Whew! I feel a bit overwhelmed just writing this! But I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one feeling like this. Here are a few things that have been helping me cope with anxiousness and worry the past couple of weeks, which I hope will be of some use to you:
- Movement! The best way to get out of the head is to get into the body. If you can leave the house, take a walk, or run around your neighborhood or in a nearby park. If you are stuck inside, do yoga with an online video or turn on your favorite upbeat tunes and shake your booty!
- Meditation! Normally, I would recommend a silent, sitting practice. If that is already a part of your practice and helps you deal with anxiety, by all means, continue. However, I have personally been finding that silent meditation can sometimes make me feel more anxious; somehow, it seems like all of the busy thoughts have more room to move around my mind. So, lately, I have been singing and chanting, which helps me connect to my breath and relieve stress in my body.
- Gratitude Journal! Today, I’m grateful for the warming weather, housemates who are fun and kind, and the nurses, doctors, and others who are on the frontlines of this health crisis. What are you thankful for?
Unless you feel like you have spaciousness in your day and the desire to do so, don’t try to do all of these things everyday. It’s important to not overwhelm yourself with more to do, or feel like you “should” do something, especially in the midst of global catastrophe. This is about taking care of yourself and your mental health, so be gentle! (And, check out this great article on self-compassion in the time of COVID-19.)
If you struggle with an existing anxiety or panic disorder that is being exacerbated by the current crisis, it may be helpful to reach out to your mental health professional for some extra support during this time, including medication, additional sessions, and online support groups.
Top 5 resources for how to deal with anxiety based on the above recommendations:
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