9 Ways to manage anxiety during Covid19
The current times of pandemic and lockdown have brought up much anxiety for most of us.
For those who were already suffering with anxiety, this became unbearable.
Thoughts and fears about illness, death and dying, for oneself or a loved one, suddenly surfaced; and we are forced to sit with them as the lockdown means that there are much fewer ways to distract ourselves. The lockdown also means that we are forced to sit with what’s there: within ourselves and within our households.
And not for a day or two, but for an indefinite time.
This can feel too much for many and in these moments, anxiety can take over and make it all even worse, as it’s not only about the difficult present situation, but the anxiety tends to push us to imagine the future in the most catastrophic ways.
There are already many articles out there regarding ways to cope with anxiety during covid19 and many of them describe things such as having a routine, doing some exercise, learning something new, etc. And I agree with this. However, I am also aware that when one is caught in the claws of anxiety or depression, it’s very hard to find any motivation and strength sometimes to reach out or use other practical ways to help us cope. Hence, this may make us feel trapped in the torture of our own feelings and thoughts.
So what can we do then? What can we do when all we can think about is gloom and doom?
Sometimes the best way to deal with something is to give it the attention it needs, but not from a place where we judge and just want to get rid of it. But rather from a place of patience, curiosity and compassion where that scared part of you feels heard and understood and supported.
So when the ‘what if’s ‘ come, sit down and wonder:
- How does this feel in my body right now?
Where do I feel it, is it light, heavy, dark, tense, achy, pulsating, tingling etc.
- What is it that I’m feeling exactly? Sometimes anxiety can be a mask for feelings of anger, sadness, hurt, insecurity, vulnerability etc. from either the past or the present. Be curious about what it is and where it is from.
For example, anxiety for the future can mask a sense of low self worth, which is often connected with a deeper childhood wound when we felt helpless and which can be too difficult to acknowledge on our own. Therefore, one would tend to focus on all the catastrophes that could happen in the future to avoid dealing with the helpless feelings and vulnerability in the present, forgetting that we are not anymore as helpless and vulnerable as we were when we were little.
- What does that emotion or part of you need from you right now?Try to be there for it like you would be towards someone you love and care for.
- Take a few deep breaths into your belly, long breath out,, with acceptance and acknowledgement of what it is right now.
- Remember moments in the past where you felt in a similar way and you overcame it. This too shall pass.
- Acknowledge those things that we cannot control (e.g. The weather, the lockdown, other people …) .
- Think about things that you can control and which are within your power (e.g. taking up learning a new skill, self caring, giving yourself time to rest more, reaching out to people, asking help, helping others etc.). All this can restore your sense of feeling more empowered.
- Reach out for help and support. Friends, family, support groups, forums, organisations etc. We all struggle in a way or another in these difficult times, reaching out to each other and using our vulnerability to bring us closer, to help each other and build up stronger ties is one of the best ways to go forward.
- Allow yourself some time to feel what you need to feel but, at the same time, remembering that our emotions provide information, they do not define who we are! And hence we can question our emotions with kindness and curiosity.
We do have the power to accept, challenge and change them when needed (e .g. have you ever felt really angry with someone for something they did that you thought was uncaring or intentionally hurtful towards you, only that a bit later to find out they were going through something difficult and never had that bad intention and then you noticed your anger changing instantly into compassion?)
Many people fear to acknowledge their difficult emotions because they think that if they do acknowledge them, then these emotions will take control and they will drown in them. However, this almost never happens. And if in the worst case scenario this does happen, there are always places and people from which you can get the right support to get you through.
But in all the other scenarios, most of the time, your acknowledgement of your emotions means that they lessen, as they finally got your attention. Remember, emotions are there to help us survive, they are our alarm system. And like a guard dog, they will become more intense until they get your attention.
Try it and remember that if you feel overwhelmed, breathe deeply, give yourself space to feel what you need to feel, this is temporary. And just like we can see the sun behind the clouds, so too, good times will also come our way. Keep up the hope, you’ve got nothing to lose if you do.
You can also reach out to a professional, if you would like to work through to the roots of those anxieties, so that it does not continue to steal your peace and your wellbeing and make your world smaller and smaller by the day.
You can contact me by clicking here in case you want to talk about therapy sessions.