If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm and cope effectively with anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times.
When you’re not worrying about keeping everyone healthy, there’s also the stress of working from home, parenting kids who are out of school and daycare, along with the experience of isolation that comes from being out of physical connection with our friends and family.
Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- A sense of being on edge, restless or unsettled
- Physical signs of anxiety like a racing heart, clammy hands
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability and frustration towards others
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Overuse of alcohol or other drugs
If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some quick ways you can help yourself:
1. Limit Media Consumption
Yes, you do need to know what is going on, but you don’t need to read every.single.article. about COVID-19 or watch the new loop on repeat.
Likewise, scrolling social medial for hours to deal with boredom, restlessness and anxiety is helpful int the moment, but ultimately unfulfilling.
It’s especially important to create times during the day where you are engaging in activities that you enjoy and getting a break from you phone.
Watching a movie with your partner or family
FaceTime or Skype or call a friend
2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit
Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat well, make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep.
One practice you can adopt to cope more effectively with anxiety is mindful breathing. This helps to turn on the part of the nervous system that helps calm you down and turn off the stress response.
Breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6.
This activates the parasympathetic system, the part of your nervous system that helps you to relax.
As you exhale, a signal is carried through your vagus nerve from your body to your brain, sending the message to move out of the stress response and into a more restful state.
Try it now for 6-10 breaths and see what happens. .
You can Also Try:
Happiness Trap App
3. Contain Your Worries
There is a lot to think about these days. Lots you could worry about. Kids. Health. Employement. Finances. Loved ones.
But when our thoughts run wild, our anxiety increases.
It’s so easy to miss out on the pleasureable things we have going on when our minds are somewhere else while we are doing them.
Try having a worry time.
Throughout the day, when your mind pulls you into worries, make a note of it, but don’t get caught up in it. I use the notes app on my phone, but paper works just fine.
Then, at a set time each day, sit and reflect on your worries. Make a flow chart, a diagram, pro/con lists. Whatever you do, focus on the worries. Spend 15-20 minutes really digging into your concerns.
At the end of your worry time, take 8-10 mindful breaths as described in #2 and return to your day.
While you are not driving to and from your office, or taking the kids to sports practices, you still have plenty to look after.
Maybe it’s just the podcasts and blogs that I read, but everywhere I turn, there seems to be this hightened pressure to do something phenomenal with this time in isolation.
After all, don’t you know “Shakespeare wrote King Lear while he was quarantined during the plague?”
Don’t buy into this pressure. I believe many women are just on the edge of burnout from the fast pace of their lives and the many responsabilities they carry.
Rest. Pursue your values. Allow yourself time to feel your emotions. Connect with your love ones; in person if they live with you or over the internet.
The impression that you should be able to accomplish incredible things during this time can add to anxiety and self criticism.
5. Stay in the Present Moment
Because of the uncertainty about the future and how challenging the current times are, it is natural that your mind would pull you out of the present moment. However, living too far in the future provokes anxiety.
Listen to music mindfully.
Sip tea slowly.
Smell the scent in your diffuser or from a candle.
Slow down and be in the present moment.
If you find yourself becoming too stressed or anxious during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via a secure video platform, so you won’t even have to leave your home to get help.