If you suffer from anxiety, it can be crippling on a normal day. Throw in a worldwide pandemic, and that can blow your anxiety through the roof, even for those of us who don’t normally have anxious tendencies.
Today I’m sharing a few tips with you to help you manage anxiety during these uncertain times. I have come up with my list, both from my own research, and also from crowd-sourcing on social media to learn what others do to help them manage their anxiety through this global stress.
Distract Your Anxious Mind
When you feel your anxiety building to a point of becoming overwhelming, try this exercise to distract your mind away from your triggers:
- List 5 things you can SEE
- List 4 things you can FEEL
- List 3 things you can HEAR
- List 2 things you can SMELL
- List 1 thing you can TASTE
This exercise is intended to distract your mind from whatever thoughts are creating your anxiety by bringing your thoughts back to the present moment. I encourage you to try this when you feel overwhelmed.
Turn Off the News
The worst thing we can do right now is to constantly watch or listen to the news. Fear multiplies fear. Uncertainty breeds anxiety. Watching the suffering of others is only going to magnify the anxiety you are feeling.
By turning off the TV and not focusing our attention on news outlets and sources, we can minimize our triggers.
Move Your Body
Exercise is my number one way to reduce my own stress and anxiety. Every afternoon I take my dogs out for an hour-long walk in the woods. The combination of movement and nature ground me and bring my mind back to the present moment, back to reality, rather than allowing my thoughts to wander and overwhelm me with things that may or may not be real.
If you have trouble getting yourself off the couch to get moving, I encourage you to read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. A simplified explanation is that you count down from five and when you get to one, you MOVE!
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — GO!
Writing down our thoughts and feelings is a great way to get them out of our heads and to process what we are thinking. If you don’t know what to write about, just spend 5-15 minutes just dumping your brain onto paper. I find it most effective when it’s through pen and paper, rather than through a keyboard. There is something about the movement of putting pen to paper that connects my thoughts more clearly.
Once you have written your entry, read it and re-read it to help you think about and process what’s going on in your mind.
Our minds cannot focus on worry and gratitude at the same time. By listing off the things we are grateful for it distracts our minds from the things we are worried and anxious about.
Some ideas are to do a gratitude rant – set your phone’s timer for one minute and rant out loud, “I’m so happy and grateful for ____________! I’m so happy and grateful for __________! I’m so happy and grateful for ___________!” Until your timer goes off.
Keep a gratitude journal, and everyday write down the things you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same things everyday, that’s ok! As you do it more and more, you will notice that your list will begin to expand.
If you find yourself bogged down by all the darkness and negativity surrounding the current global pandemic, hop on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and search for your favorite comedy. Laughing is a huge stress reliever, and we all need to be laughing more!
L-theanine is an amino acid that is said to help reduce stress, anxiety and even sleeplessness. When paired with caffeine, it has also shown to improve mental clarity and focus.
L-theanine can be found in green and black tea as well as in some mushrooms, or is also available as a supplement. Personally, I drink a collagen coffee (USA coffee link) that contains L-theanine every morning to help manage stress and boost my mental focus and clarity. And if I feel my anxiety creeping in in the afternoon, I drink a delicious natural energy drink (USA energy drink link) that contains L-theanine to help keep it in check. — If you have questions about either of these products, please do reach out.
I hope these simple strategies to reduce anxiety are helpful for you. If you have your own to add to this list, I would love for you to share them in the comments!
Wishing you a happy and anxiety-free day!