The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is triggering increased stress and anxiety in many people around the world. In situations of uncertainty like this one, it is natural to be concerned and to experience anxiety.
When we feel threatened, our brain activates the flight or fight response, whose main purpose is to protect us. So, being a little bit more concerned is useful because it keeps you cautious and motivates you to take measures to protect yourself and the loved ones.
However, excessive worry and fear can undermine constructive responses to stress, damage your health and impair quality of life. People who already struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, health anxiety, or general anxiety are particularly at risk of developing coronavirus anxiety.
To help you stay calm and composed in times of uncertainty, here are some useful strategies to help with coronavirus stress and anxiety.
1. Plan Ahead
Most of us like to be in control of our lives. Planning and organizing your day to day life for the possibility of coronavirus outbreak in your community will provide a sense of control and therefore ease anxiety.
In the first place, get yourself familiar with the trusted sources of information that you can turn to in the case of an outbreak. Also, make arrangements at work, such as an option to work from home and be prepared for school closings.
2. Keep Self-Care a Priority
Regular daily exercise, good sleep, and a healthy diet are pillars of wellbeing in general. However, during the times of uncertainty, healthy lifestyles and self-care become a priority.
Research shows that well-rested individuals have stronger immune system and are better at fending off viruses. Similarly, many studies show that physical exercise can protect you against symptoms of anxiety, boost immunity, and help promote feelings of wellbeing. Also, regular exercise keeps your heart rate up, which lowers the risk of many chronic diseases.
Finally, it has been proven that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in veggies, fruits, fish, and whole grains can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
3. Calm Your Mind and Body
Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing techniques, and yoga are effective tools in overcoming anxiety in general. In times of increased uncertainty, these relaxation techniques can help you focus on the present, become aware of your negative feelings and thoughts, and slowly overcome them.
Instead of avoiding the experience of anxiety, allow yourself to see the anxious thoughts and then let the feelings wash over you and observe them for some time. Give them a chance to rise and crest. When we get into a place of judgement or containment, these thoughts are left unprocessed. Once they crest, much like a tidal wave, then, acknowledge that these are just thoughts and feelings, and simply let them drift away.
Tool for deep breathing: Breathe in for a count of three and exhale for a count of six. Repeat this three to five times. This will allow your mind the space to settle.
4. Spend Time in Nature
Allow for a conscious pause between daily transitions. Taking a conscious break helps find a balance, alleviates anxiety, and boosts resilience. Take a break by spending time outdoors. Connecting with nature helps us relax and experience fewer feelings of anxiety and depression. Whether it is taking your kids to their favorite park, spending an afternoon at the beach, or going for a hike outside the town, spending time in nature is a great way to be active, stay away from viruses, and lessen feelings of anxiety.
In these anxious times, it is so important to seek support when you need it. Reach out to your personal support systems or seek the support you need.