Have you been feeling a little blue recently? Perhaps, you feel more highly strung than usual? A tightness in your chest or jaws? Trouble sleeping? Do you find yourself worrying about ‘worst-case’ scenarios? Are you anxious about life in and after COVID? Have you lost a little interest in your daily activities?
If you find yourself answering ‘Yes’ to a majority of the questions above, you might be dealing with some anxiety. And, that’s okay. While some of us continue to adjust to this new ‘normality,’ we can expect to experience fluctuations in our mental health. Being in isolation away from our family and friends or being unable to experience a taste of our routined lives can make it harder to manage your anxiety.
Here are five things you can do to help alleviate your anxiety. (Note: These are simply things that work for me. Anxiety is extremely personal, and what may work for me may not work for you!)
- Go for a 15-minute walk.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, even a 10-minute walk can be as effective as a 45-minute walk to reduce anxiety. Some psychologists have also said that these temporary effects can be similar to taking an Aspirin. Walking can help provide that instant ‘fix’ that you might need during an anxious period. It will not only help relax your muscles, but it can also help reduce the nervous energy in your body by releasing tension. Plus, any form of exercise produces endorphins (nature’s happy hormone) and oxytocin! Good for your mind and body.
2. Make an anxiety mind map.
I learned this technique from a counselor when I was in high school, and I pretty much use it to this day. When I’m experiencing high bouts of anxiety – and no amount of “self-care” seems to satisfy it – I like to use this technique to calm down. An anxiety mind map is simply a visual representation of your thoughts, and what might be causing your anxiety. It will help you embrace your emotions, be more aware of your thoughts, and help you understand yourself better. Personally, it helps me rationalize my thoughts and recognize that sometimes my thoughts might not always be real. It helps me feel stronger during the moment, knowing these thoughts are just words on a paper, and I can overcome them. Being able to map it out also helps me learn about new triggers that might be linked to some of my anxiety and allow me to be more in tune with myself. Recognizing these triggers has allowed me to eliminate potential stressors.
3. Make a self-care plan.
When I’m feeling anxious, it can be hard for me to continue my daily tasks. I feel unmotivated, and don’t feel like doing anything. However, making short self-care plans have helped me develop more incentive for starting the week right, or simply, keep my mind occupied. These self-care plans can pretty much include anything you want to get done in the week! It could be anything as simple as making a playlist for all your favorite feel-good songs, books you want to read, or a list of movies you want to watch! Start simple and then move onto more scheduled tasks.
4. Try and stick to a routine.
I know that with COVID, it’s become a little challenging to maintain a routine, mainly because it can get repetitive quickly. However, try to find a schedule that might be similar to your routine if you were at work or school! I try to work or keep myself busy until the evening and then choose to unwind with a movie.
Or, perhaps, stop a routine that might be contributing to your anxiety. Are you mindlessly scrolling on accounts that don’t make you feel good? Are you watching tv shows simply because you don’t know what to do – and that makes you feel even more unproductive? Whatever the reason may be, try to identify specific aspects of your day that you think might need a change in routine.
5. The Top 3 List
This list is pretty much similar to the gratitude journal. However, rather than stating what you’re grateful for – this is simply a list of three things that might have happened today! It can be anything you want! If getting out of bed has been difficult for a couple of days, but getting up this morning seemed effortless – jot it down! Or, if you finally got to do something you’ve been putting off for a while, write that! Try to celebrate your little wins. On my anxious days, continuing my workout routine or going for that 15-minute walk seems perfectly okay.
Finally, reach out. Anxiety can be incredibly draining. You don’t need to do this alone at all – nor are you alone. Try to talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you feel. Know that what you’re going through is completely okay, and this too shall pass.
Here a few resources to check out: