How to Deal With Anxiety and Stress During Crises Like COVID-19
“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” ~ Walter Anderson
We are all concerned about keeping self and loved ones safe through the COVID-19 pandemic. And many people are rightly anxious about their businesses surviving. These are valid concerns. This kind of coronavirus anxiety moves us to take practical steps to protect ourselves. For example, we can…
Practice best hygiene practices. Wash hands often, for 20 seconds, with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with 70% ethyl alcohol. Keep hands away from the face. Comply with social distancing — staying 6 feet away.
Reassess work and business. If your work has already been negatively impacted, review your business strategies; perhaps you’ll find greater clarity and new opportunities where you didn’t see them before.
However, if you’re plagued by an overwhelming, paralyzing anxiety that is draining your energy and diminishing your joy in life, it’s time to mindfully identify the cause and taking steps to becoming more secure. (Remember that asking for assistance from a professional is not shameful. It’s a sign of self-knowledge and strength to admit you can’t do it by yourself.)
With a pandemic, there are many things we can’t control. But we can control our reaction to a crisis. By being prepared and doing all we can, we can ease our anxiety. Reestablish your sense of control by choosing your actions and thoughts carefully. Here are some suggestions…
How to deal with anxiety: do LESS of —
Overdoing junk food. Sugar lowers the effectiveness of our immune system. Now would be a good time to mindfully note the amount you consume and take steps to use little or no sugar. Using this pandemic as an excuse for overloading on junky comfort food will make your immune system vulnerable.
Staying up later; not getting restorative sleep. Try to keep your normal routine of getting up and dressed; then take advantage of this opportunity to get plenty of rest. This is your chance to reset your sleep cycle. Sleep strengthens your immune system.
Consuming too much news. Block out a limited amount of time in the morning or evening to stay informed from a credible source, not overdosing on sensational misinformation.
Isolating yourself. It’s vital to remain connected and engaged with your friends, family and community.
How to deal with anxiety: Do MORE of —
Remain calm. Panic releases cortisol, which suppresses your immune system.
Be humble. Being told you can’t go out causes anxiety in people who hate being told what to do. It may take extra effort to relax and let it go. Consider how the following statements affect you and how you can bring more balance to your life, respecting each one…
Remember this isn’t going to last forever. As resilient people, we will be able to pick up the pieces and keep going.
Don’t stress about what hasn’t happened yet. Our imagination can add to our anxiety by jumping to worse case scenario. While it’s good to be aware of how today’s actions will form tomorrow’s reality, during crisis see how life really is today (I have a home, food, toilet paper, etc). Take it one day at a time.
Ask yourself “What can I do right now?” Many people are using the Internet for work. Can you do that, too? If you’re at high risk for catching the virus… do all you can to build up your immune system. This reinforces your sense of control and reduces anxiety.
Practice gratitude. Focusing on what you do have, what’s right in your life, will bring peace and calm. It will remind you of how others’ are contributing to your well-being and move you to reach out and connect with them on a deeper level.
Keep learning. Give your mind something positive to focus on. Now is a good time to learn a new skill like speaking a foreign language or becoming better cook. Try a new relaxation method like mindfulness, Yoga, Progressive Muscle Relaxation or deep breathing exercises.
Get plenty of exercise. Sheltering in place does not mean sitting and surfing the Net. When you can’t go to the gym, walking outside in the sunshine is a tremendous help in releasing anxiety.
Do what brings you peace. Some people are using the time for Spring Cleaning. Other people are letting the bed-making and dishes go, so they can finish a creative project. How you deal with it, is up to you. Don’t fall into the trap of doing something because “everyone else is doing it!”
As a family, discuss your anxieties and how you will support each other through this. If you’d like to use this time for developing greater self-leadership skills, I’m happy to conduct the “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Zoom. Please contact me and we can work “together” putting this time of crisis to good use.