There’s no doubt we are living in challenging times. A global pandemic, societal divide, political unrest, environmental concerns etc. — It’s becoming more and more difficult to simply “keep our ….. together.” There was a story on this morning’s news that caught my attention. The headline was “What has been the most “Googled” topic since the beginning of this pandemic?” The answer was not surprising: Anxiety.
Anxiety is nothing new for me. I’d lived with generalized anxiety disorder for what seems like a lifetime. Fortunately, I’ve learned to manage my disorder with medication, therapy, and physical activity. It’s taken years to develop coping skills to navigate my world without constant fear. I still have anxiety, but I have a tool kit for easing the physical and emotional toll it takes on me. An anxiety disorder is different from the acute anxiety people are feeling during this pandemic, but the mental and physical effects are similar.
Side effects may include: fatigue, anger, sadness or depression, lack or increased appetite, possible substance abuse, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances, drastic mood swings, shakiness, and panic attacks. Two main contributors to anxiety include: a lack of control and a lack of security or safety, so it makes sense that people are feeling more anxious as of late. However, there are ways to make things a bit easier on ourselves. I’m not a mental health professional, but I can provide some tips that have helped me manage anxiety.
10 TIPS FOR EASING ANXIETY
- Talk it out: share your thoughts with friends, family, or even a counselor. Talking about our thoughts can give us an alternate perspective. Additionally, connecting with others reduces loneliness and provides us with a sense of community and security.
- Get moving: Exercise is excellent for our physical health, and it improves our moods by releasing endorphins. Daily exercise will also help you sleep better 😊 This can be as simple as going for a walk.
- Limit substances: Don’t over indulge in alcohol or drugs. It may seem to help in the moment, but it will only make things worse in the long run. I speak from experience on this one.
- Get your sleep: try and get into a good sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day if possible. This may take time, so be patient.
- Focus on things you can control: such as what you can do to protect yourself: wear a mask, limit outings, keep your distance, wash your hands etc. Do the things that make you feel safe and that are in your control. Remember there will always be things in life that are out of our control. Stay in the moment, and deal with issues only when they arise.
- Get outside: Fresh air is a great way to release stress. Go for a walk, run, bike ride, hike, or just sit in your backyard.
- Practice mindfulness: If you struggle to stay in the moment, try a guided mindfulness meditation. There are plenty of free YouTube videos on this topic.
- Eat well: It can be tempting to reach for comfort foods, but unhealthy food choices can affect your mood. Stick to whole foods such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lots of water.
- TURN OFF THE NEWS: Stay informed, but limit the amount of news you watch or listen to. Constant negative information makes it difficult to recognize what’s good in the world.
- DO things you enjoy: play with your children, cuddle a pet, listen to music.
My thoughts go out to anyone dealing with excess anxiety or depression. Know you are not alone – be well and take care of you.