Anxiety is something many people struggle with – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. While there’s no quick fix to dealing with anxiety, there are some things you can do to manage it. There are different things that work for different people when it comes to overcoming anxiety, so here are some methods to help calm you down and give you back control.
If You’re Struggling with Pandemic Anxiety
Know the Facts to Help Reduce Stress
Stay informed, but don’t obsessively check the news. It’s imperative to stay informed about what’s happening in your community so that you can follow safety precautions and do your part to slow the spread of the virus. But there’s also a lot of misinformation in the media, as well as sensationalistic coverage that only feeds fear. Make the effort to be discerning about what you read and watch.
- Stick to trustworthy sources such as the World Health Organisation and your local public health authorities.
- Limit yourself. Try to avoid constantly checking the news and social media – this can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive, and fuel anxiety rather than ease it. Consider limiting your media consumption to a specific time frame and time of day (e.g. 30 mins each evening before dinner).
Focus on the Things You Can Control
This time of uncertainty can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a lack of control. When you feel yourself getting caught up in the fear of the unknown, try to shift your focus onto the things that are in your control. While you can’t control how severe the virus outbreak is in your area, you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk.
- Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Being responsible when meeting with others. Follow the guidelines of social distancing and wearing a mask when meeting with others.
- Stay home when possible but don’t lock yourself in totally. It’s important for your mental health to spend time outdoors and stay in contact with loved ones.
- Plan for what you can. Know what to do if you are sick and need to get treatment.
- Maintain a routine as best as you can. Even if you’re stuck at home, try to stick to your regular schedule as much as you can. This can help to maintain a sense of normalcy.
If You Have Anxiety from Work
Schedule ‘Me’ Time After Work
A PSA for all the workaholics – it’s great when you love what you do and love to work. But there needs to be a balance between work and some down-time. Be sure to know how to set those boundaries for yourself, especially if you find it hard to ‘shut off’ after the day.
It’s easy to stress about tasks and obsessively check emails at all hours and on weekends. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to disconnect. You’ll soon realise that things won’t go up in flames if you’re not on your phone 24/7. Make that effort to give yourself a hard boundary to switch off after a working day (barring emergencies) and go do something for yourself. Do a workout class or pour yourself a glass of wine and get in the bathtub. Once you get into the routine of doing something for yourself immediately after work, you’ll start to feel yourself relax.
If your workspace, mental to-do list and email inbox are a total mess, it can become overwhelming. Make some time to sit down and go through everything piece by piece to make sense of things so that you can find a good workflow.
Keep a planner to write down your daily to-do list and to plan your week. Having a structure in place can help reduce anxiety about having a mountain of work to do. Instead of thinking about the 1000 things you have to do, break it up into one task at a time. It’s all about organising the mess to find that starting point.
If You Suffer from Anxiety-Induced Insomnia
If you find yourself in the midst of a super busy or stressful time of your life, it can be difficult to switch your brain off at night. Something to help you calm yourself down is to try breathing exercises. Inhale for eight, hold for eight, and exhale for eight. This slows your breathing down to mimic the breathing patterns for sleep, and within a couple of minutes you should feel much more calm.
Set the Scene
Get yourself into an evening routine with the sole purpose of helping you to relax before bed. Reading, listening to music or showering/taking a bath before bed are great ways to wind down at the end of the day.
Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet without distractions like a TV or computer. You can even get yourself a diffuser with some essential oils or a Himalayan salt lamp to help set the tone for bed.
If you find that you’re still struggling to fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing like meditation, reading or taking a bath until you start to feel yourself getting sleepy. Don’t lie in bed stressing about not being able to fall asleep – be patient with yourself and give yourself some extra time to switch off before being able to fall asleep.
If you wake up feeling overwhelmed
Schedule a Workout
Starting your day with a workout can help you to clear your head and keep your anxiety in check. Sometimes the best way to calm down when waking up anxious is to ‘run it off’ of the treadmill. It’s often easier to get through the day when you’ve worked off some of the extra energy in the morning.
Exercise has also been proven to enhance people’s moods, improve sleep and boost self-esteem. Getting your day started with a workout can therefore help you to get your day started on a positive note, helping you to calm down and clear your head first.
Break Down the Day
If you wake up feeling overwhelmed about everything you need to get done for the day, it’s best to give yourself a minute to take it all in and prioritise. What is absolutely essential and what can be done later? The best way to get through feeling overwhelmed is break things down into smaller, more manageable things.
Starting your day with meditation can help you to relax your mind before getting the day started. Getting the day started with a calm, clear mind can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed throughout the day, remind yourself of the calmness you felt in the morning when meditating, then remind yourself that you are able to take on the day.