HOW TO MANAGE YOUR ANXIETY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Most of us anxious about the pandemic.
So, what do we do?
Well, the first thing is to realise that anxiety is normal in a situation like this.
We're biologically programmed to get anxious when there is risk. It is designed to motivate us to fight, to solve or to run away from the problem. So, be kind to yourself if you're anxious. It's normal.
That having been said, too much anxiety is counterproductive. Too much anxiety leads to the inability to contemplate the facts carefully in a measured way and to make careful decisions. If we're very anxious, we become immobilised, overwhelmed and rash in any decisions that we make.
So, it is very important in times like these that we manage our anxiety.
So, how do we do that?
Well, firstly, it's very important to become aware that our anxiety levels have climbed too high.
We may only realise this when we notice that:
Our sleep has been disturbed
We have become irritable, restless or edgy
We have excessive tension in our bodies
Or we're overeating or abusing alcohol or drugs
And, having realised that we're overanxious, we need to take action.
Most of you have healthy ways of reducing anxiety already.
Here are some examples:
Yoga (You can still do this at home with online guidance if necessary)
Gym (You can make a makeshift gym at home)
Time in nature
Time with animals that you love
It's worth noting that exercise also increases the efficacy of the immune system. It doesn't take a lot - a brisk walk or a ten minutes of cardio exercise is enough.
At the bottom of this page, I'll be giving you a link to a very helpful tool - 'The Chill Pill' - that can help you to lower your levels of anxiety.
But first, here are a few tips. Try them and see what works for you:
Limit your exposure to low-grade information on COVID-19 on social media. Most of us certainly don't need our anxiety levels whipped up.
Familiarise yourself with good quality information. This gives a sense of being informed. But, limit reading, watching or listening to such information to, say, 30 minutes a day especially if you find that you are researching compulsively. Some useful sites are listed at the bottom of the page.
Get a good night's sleep if you can. If you're struggling to sleep, decrease caffeine use - particularly after midday - and turn off phones and other screens well before bed time. If you can’t sleep, don't toss and turn, get out of bed and read or meditate until it feels like you might be able to sleep again.
Take some time out - to read, to spend time in nature, to watch entertaining TV, to play with the children or the animals, to garden, to cook, to have fun.
Take care of others. Taking care of others - dropping off food or medicines for the vulnerable, for example - can open out hearts to compassion which, in turn can take us out of our self-centred worrying and so reduce our levels of anxiety.
Keep in touch with others - via WhatsApp Video, Skype, FaceTime and the like - especially if you're feeling isolated or lonely.
Stock up on basic provisions and medicines. This will give you more of a sense of control but please do not go overboard. Others want to stock up too.
Realise that so much suffering comes from resisting anxiety. If you are anxious, try to let it be there if you can.
And, as much as you are able, take the attitude that you will face whatever comes. Acceptance can help enormously.
It can also help to take the attitude: 'I'll do what I can reasonably do and then I'll have to let go. The rest is up to fate.'
A helpful way to make anxiety more tolerable is to drop your awareness from the stories in your mind (which perpetuate the anxiety) and bring you awareness into your body. Next, identify each element of the anxiety in the body and ask yourself if you can cope with that: My tummy has butterflies. Can I cope with that? There is tension in my chest. Can I cope with that? My heart is beating fast. Can I cope with that? It feels like my breathing is constricted. Can I cope with that? My muscles are tense. Can I cope with that? My mouth is dry? Can I cope with that? I feel light-headed. Can I cope with that? And so on. Most of us can cope with the symptoms in the body. It's generally the stories in our heads that overwhelm us.
Hold an ice cube in each hand for a few minutes. This naturally drops our levels of anxiety. Try it!
Breathe deeply and make your out-breaths as long as possible (without creating more tension). The body naturally relaxes if we breathe in this way.
Keep a sense of humour. It's good for the psyche and it's great for for the immune system.
Below is a link to download and instructions for a powerful tool - an audio track called 'The Chill Pill' that I created - an audio track that contains pulses that calm your mind in a safe way.
Now it's up to you.
But, please realise:
That - very often - when we are anxious, we don't do what is actually helpful to us. We reach for a drink, for a joint, for pills or we scan the media for more anxiety-provoking information. Please don't do that. Try these tips and 'The Chill Pill' instead.
Sometimes we need help. But first please try the tips above and try 'The Chill Pill.' If they don't ease your anxiety, I am here to help. You can contact me by clicking on the button below:
Please take good care of yourself.
You can download 'The Chill Pill' here:
This is a DropBox folder.
Look for the three dots on the right. Click these and download the track.
Once the file has downloaded, you can listen to the track in the same way that you would with any music track.
It is very important that you listen with stereo headphones. Your phone earphones are good enough but they must be stereo headphones.
And, it helps if you listen with your eyes closed.
Most people experience very pleasurable relaxation accompanied by a similarly pleasurable decrease in the worrying thoughts.
Please take careful note of the following:
• This track is not suitable for:
Those who suffer from epilepsy
Or those who are deeply traumatised.
It is not advisable to listen to this track while doing any other activity.
It is fine if you fall asleep while listening to the track. In fact, you will still get significant benefit by simply playing the track while you fall asleep each night but please make sure that the track is not looping (i.e. playing over and over again).
I have used this track with great success with both myself and many of my clients.
Please note that, very occasionally, I find that someone feels a bit more tense – in the first five minutes or so.
They may, for example, feel a tightening in their chest.
If this happens to you, know that this is simply your mind resisting the relaxation. It will pass!
Simply continue listening and you will find that you will begin to relax in a most pleasant way.
ps: Here are some sites that give advice on the coronavirus: