Life has changed for many of us this year with work and play being massively altered due to the current health crisis. Change can be uncomfortable and while we’re learning to adapt our anxiety levels may be increasing. Life will return to normal at some point but in the meantime our strange new world can be unnerving. So, what can we do when our anxiety kicks into overdrive and many of our normal coping mechanisms aren’t there to support us? How can we change our behaviors and habits to face this world as it is without our emotions running amuck? We’ve compiled a list of a few things to help keep you grounded.
Build your resilience
Thinking about how you’ll cope with lost wages, stay at home orders, daycare closures and reduced human interaction can send you spinning into a feeling of overwhelm. Our minds are programmed to fear the worst outcomes in situations and naturally look for things to fear; it’s one of the things that helped our ancient ancestors survive in a harsh world. What we may underestimate is our coping mechanisms and how we can work to make them stronger. We never realize that our coping mechanisms will fare better than we think. Emotional resilience or your ability to adapt to and recover from stressful situations can be built upon and strengthened. We can build resilience by strengthening connections with others, avoiding negative outlets, practicing mindfulness and being proactive. Now is a great time to update your resume, review your savings or check in on friends and relatives.
Take a time-out
If you’re working from home, you may not realize that you need a break from work. Working from home certainly has its pros but it also comes with its cons—namely home life and work life intertwining into a blur. If you have family members or roommates that are also at home throughout the day it can create unique challenges for everyone to have enough space to themselves to get work done. If you are alone then perhaps you are missing out on many of the connections and discussions with colleagues that you would normally have. It is tempting for us to act as if working from home isn’t really working so we don’t need to take breaks, but now we have many of the same deadlines and pressures we faced when we were at work without the structure that our work environment helped to provide. Make sure to take some time for you throughout the day or schedule in a vacation (yes, a staycation at home counts) so your work doesn’t start to overwhelm you.
Spending more time at home can disrupt our daily rhythms. All the activities you may have been accustomed to such as dinner out at a restaurant, grabbing drinks with friends, shopping or even going to work may have been altered. When routines we’ve created change suddenly, we may find it difficult to adapt and this could affect our wellbeing and mindset. Creating and adhering to a schedule throughout your day can help to provide structure that the coronavirus may have disrupted. Simple habits like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness can help ease stress.
Use mindfulness activities
Using techniques that help bring your attention to the present moment and away from the “what ifs” can do wonders to relieve anxiety. Breathwork, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help quell anxiety when it strikes and research has shown that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety. If you focus on the present moment, it is difficult to get swept up in hypothetical worst case scenarios. This is a challenging time for everyone, and it’s okay to not be okay.
Limit media consumption
Overconsumption of media can add to your daily stress and anxiety. It’s not just social media that’s the culprit this time. News outlets and our “always plugged” in society play an exceptional role as well. There’s a never-ending mound of information thrown at us from every angle regarding the current health crisis, the current political state and not to mention a plethora of social issues all clamoring for our attention. Identify reliable news sources and limit your media consumption. Turn off notifications on your phone, watch and set time limits for social media and news outlet apps. Doing these things can help keep you mindful of your time spent reading current events and your possible anxiety triggers.