Techniques to Manage Anxiety from Your Shelter In Place or Lockdown
A little over a week ago, I wrote about ways to treat your anxiety from the Coronavirus outbreak and all the havoc it’s wreaking on our economy.
Even the people with the coolest demeanor are undoubtedly shaken.
If you’re not someone with a cool demeanor?…. you might be struggling a little bit.
I know I am.
And honestly, I planned to publish this post the day after the previous post, but I had to retreat into my home and focus on myself and my goals in order to maintain my sanity. (Any posts I have published between then and now were already previously scheduled…)
I’m already taking my own advice (#1), and it HAS been helping.
This is NOT an easy time to be living through. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety, all of the health suggestions I gave, like exercising and watching trigger foods are things that are LONG TERM. These are things that may take a while to build up and assist your overall health and wellbeing.
But what about right now?
These 11 things can help you in the moment of experiencing anxiety.
1. Get OFF SOCIAL MEDIA!
Whenever I feel anxiety coming on, it’s almost always preceded by some time spent scrolling facebook and coming across a particularly distressing article or post.
Facebook, instagram, and Twitter can help us connect to others, but it can also make us feel completely inadequate…
…combine the feelings of inadequacy with (real or potential) fight for survival and we’re suddenly going to feel like our world is collapsing around us.
The nature of times like these automatically puts us into that survival mode, so if you’re prone to anxiety, it should be a no-brainer to shut off your device and try to enjoy your time with the people around you.
2. Move Your Body
Get up from your spot right now!
What can you do NOW with what you have?
Can you go on a run?
Can you do some stretching or yoga?
50 Jumping Jacks?
Do it right now!
Bringing yourself out of your mind into the physical world can help you from going down the rabbit hole of anxiety.
From the primitive era of human development, our minds embraced anxiety because it served us well, you know… running from tigers and looking for food. But now-a-days, our overactive imaginations can be TOO MUCH for us in times of trouble.
Moving your body takes you out of your head. It gets the heart stimulated, and gets oxygen pumping to your organs and skin. Exercise can be a long-term technique for coping with anxiety, but as little as 20 minutes can help you clear your head and get some feel-good endorphins!
If you can do it outside, even better! Sunshine and breeze can help us get out of our heads as well.
3. Say Mantras to Help You Focus on the Present
Mantras, shorter sentences than affirmations, are 3-5 word sentences that you can repeat over again while you breathe, meditate.
Keep them positive, and say them calmly to yourself.
I am safe.
I am secure.
I feel at ease.
I am healthy.
My family is healthy.
You can say them in the shower, in a chair, doing the dishes, or meditating. You can use one of them or choose the ones that resonate most with you.
Make sure you are relaxing your body and mind.
You might like to read:
What are Affirmations, and How do they Work?
4. Practice Gratitude
Bust out your journal, right now!
Write down 5-10 things that you feel grateful for.
These things could be anything, from what you ate for lunch, to the fact that your parents are safe in their own quarantine.
Maybe you are grateful for having a partner to go through this stressful time with.
Maybe you’re feeling relieved and thankful for the fact that this virus doesn’t seem to affect children.
Whatever it is, think about those things and hold on to the feeling of gratitude! When we practice gratitude and feeling positive, those feelings and reactions get hard wired into our brains! The more you do it, the more likely you will react with gratitude and positivity in the future.
As a musician, I know the power of music.
I prefer more complex music like Brahms, or lyrics from poems by Sara Teasdale that have been set to music. I sing along to all the choral parts. I’m a choir director in a previous life 😉 Anyone else a choral nerd?
But you might feel relaxed rocking out to Dave Grohl, or belting out loud with Idina Menzel (if your kids haven’t ruined it for you!).
Whatever your jam, music is incredibly powerful in changing your mood, emotions, and state of mind!
Even listening to music can be relaxing, so crank up the tunes!
(Bonus: Dance party with the kids!)
Laughing is absolutely primal.
Laughter has known benefits to your stress, namely melting it away!
I enjoy The Office (US) even though I’ve seen it a million times!
My husband loves those music videos that purposefully put one instrument or vocals out of key… I cringe, but he dies of laughter every time!
(Only listen to it if you’re brave!)
7. Shift your mindset
Turn those negative thoughts into positive ones.
Write down all the things that this lockdown/quarantine has prevented you from doing, and all the negative effects that it is having.
Done? Now turn them around to make them positive.
FROM: I don’t like how I feel isolated and alone.
TO: I love the feeling of connectedness I experience with others who post online and support and lift each other up!
FROM: I don’t like that my children are preventing me from working at home and being productive.
TO: I love that my children are home, safe, and have plenty to eat. Their boredom will be the catalyst for great creativity in their lives!
Sure, sometimes it’s difficult to find the positive parts of situation. But there are SO many. Dig deep and find the positives that are coming from this awful world event.
8. Give yourself permission to be overwhelmed, stressed, worried, and not have it together
I’ve heard it said that stress is caused by conflict.
We want to get to work on time, but the traffic is preventing us from doing that = stress.
We want to go about our daily lives, but we know we’re supposed to stay at home to prevent the illness from spreading = stress.
When we don’t acknowledge this, that becomes our conflict.
Take some time to let go of the stiff upper lip and let go. Release your expectations and give yourself permission to feel out of whack right now.
Letting Go of Control: How it’s holding you back
9. Acknowledge Your Feelings
While you’re giving yourself permission to feel like shit, take a moment to ask yourself how you’re feeling.
These are all valid and completely normal reactions to the situation that we are currently in.
If you aren’t feeling stressed, you’re hiding something from yourself and you need to reexamine your true feelings.
10. Give or receive a hug
What is better than a hug or cuddling with someone?!
Human embrace is absolutely essential to our thriving in the world. The fact that babies need it for brain development should demonstrate just how important it is.
It can not only release oxytocin, which is the love hormone, but the pressure stimulation can help to relieve the sympathetic nervous system and help you feel more balanced!
11. Take a break
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or tired, give yourself permission to take a break.
In our world where “busy” is worn like a badge of honor, it’s hard to slow down.
I love productivity. I love success. I love getting things done…
…but not at the expense of my emotional and physical well-being.
Wellness should ALWAYS come first.
So put away your to-do list, stop working tirelessly.
Take a nap.
Watch a feel-good movie.
Have a stay-at-home dinner date with your partner.
Make some space for wellness and intentional living in your life.
This is a stressful time as it is.
Have you noticed a theme with these 11 techniques?
These are all things that help you get out of your head and into the physical world RIGHT NOW.
Anxiety comes from thinking about the future. If you break yourself out of that cycle, you will help yourself out tremendously. But be sure to try different techniques, change it up, and do them regularly!
Do you have any other strategies you use when you need to get out of your head?
Make sure you check out the other, long term strategies that I use for coping with anxiety.
How to Prevent Anxiety When Under Quarantine