Simple Ways to Manage Anxiety During the Pandemic
Ways to manage anxiety : If you’re feeling worried, stressed, and anxious since the COVID-19 pandemic began, you are not alone. In the United States, about 4 out of 10 adults reported an increase in anxiety levels since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is a noticeable increase if compared to 1 out of 10 adults who reported having the same symptoms in 2019.
First, let’s look at what pandemic anxiety is.
What are the Ways to Manage Pandemic Anxiety?
COVID-19 brought a significant mental health impact to the general public. The fear and anger that overwhelmed our daily lives have caused anxiety levels to simultaneously increase, and understandably so. Jobs are lost, small businesses closed, economies are shattered, people are sick and dying, and many are being evicted from their homes. It’s normal to feel worried when these grave effects are hitting close to home.
Seventy-seven percent of American women and sixty-one percent of men reported personal stress and an increase of anxiety since the pandemic began. Additionally, sixty-nine percent of Americans feel worried about themselves and their family members getting the virus. A Health Tracking Poll found out that many adults have reported an increase in anxiety symptoms due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. The forced isolation that a lot of us have experienced, and continue to experience, as a result of quarantine measures and social distancing also affects our mindset.
These effects describe pandemic anxiety, along with growing fears of what it can bring to our lives in the future.
Pandemic anxiety causes the following:
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased anger or irritability
- Increase in alcohol or drug consumption
Pandemic anxiety is also triggered by the potentially lethal nature of the COVID-19 virus. While some are dealing with its perceived effects, others are dealing with the trauma of losing someone to the virus first-hand.
Stay Leveled: Ways to Manage Anxiety
Fears about the effects of COVID-19 can take a heavy emotional toll, especially for individuals already living with an anxiety disorder. It is important to remember that you are not powerless and there are ways to manage anxiety in a healthy manner.
The first step in managing your anxiety is to acknowledge it before it affects your personal and working relationships. There are calming strategies that you can perform as ways to manage anxiety at this level.
Let’s look at these ways.
Meditation can help us to get in touch with and identify the sources of our stress, which is why it is a helpful and natural way to manage anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation can help soften feelings of anxiousness. According to multiple studies, meditation helps decrease stress levels, which is the main cause of anxiety.
Mindfulness and meditation can:
- Help create a space between you and your anxiety so they don’t consume your well-being
- Help you explore the underlying causes of your worries
- Help you learn more about how you can accept changes caused by the pandemic
While it can be a challenge to immediately rid your mind of pandemic-related worries, you will notice a change in your mindset once you get into a simple meditation routine.
If you are original to meditation, you can find many beginner guides to help you focus on your breath and calm your headspace. Here is a simple, 11-minute guided meditation to help you ease pandemic anxiety.
Perform Simple Exercises
Staying active is one of the many ways to manage anxiety, and simple exercises can shift your mood in positive ways. Exercising increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoid, which are all brain chemicals that are associated with feeling an elated sense of happiness. These work together to lessen anxiety and stress levels, and even physical pain.
Adding to that, research by Harvard University found out that exercise helps people deal with depression, as it increases nerve cell growth in the brain.
Some examples of simple exercises are:
- Walking or brisk walking
- Breathing exercises, such as these
Exercising does not have to be a grueling task. You can start small by creating routines as short as five minutes, and you will notice how your mood changes after you sweat and move your body. If you happen to miss an exercise schedule, don’t worry. You can always make up for it the next day.
Have a Digital Detox
One of the main sources of fear and worry during the pandemic comes from the media, or from the things we read that are meant to scare us. While it’s important to stay informed on the details of the outbreak or the progress of the vaccine roll-out, constantly being exposed to worrying information can have negative effects on our minds.
If you feel like you really need to stay online, here are some mindful tactics to do so:
- Limit your screen exposure to one hour per day or less.
- Only read information from reliable sources, such as the World Health Organization, or the CDC.
- Do not share information that you are unsure of.
- Ask someone reliable to share information with you.
- Don’t believe everything you read, especially when it’s coming from uncredited websites.
Do not feel worried or afraid to step away from the media anytime that you feel overwhelmed. Always remember that there are some things that we have no control over, and reading misinformed articles can only worsen pandemic anxiety. Instead, we can work on taking control of our emotions and the things we give our attention to.
Complete Simple Tasks
Completing simple tasks, such as household chores or an activity such as finishing a puzzle can keep you busy and away from your worrying thoughts.
Examples of these tasks could be:
- Doing laundry or cleaning your room
- Enjoying a 60-minute bath
- Working on artwork or any creative project
- Doing gardening, home, or DIY projects
- Taking part in a fun challenge at home
When performing these simple activities, your brain activity is focused on completing these things, hence giving you more space away from your worries. Many people struggle with not being able to accomplish anything to forward their lives during this pandemic, but starting with the little things always helps.
You can also listen to your favorite relaxing album from start to finish as you do these tasks to keep you calm and at ease.
Seek Professional Help
For some, anxiety can be debilitating in the sense that you’re not able to perform your daily tasks without feeling intense fear and worry.
When you feel your anxiety level is too high to control on your own, do not be scared to seek professional help. There are ways to manage your anxiety that mental health professionals can recommend. This is an important step to make, to ensure that you continue to take control of your life during these difficult times.
Dealing with anxiety is definitely easier said than done, especially when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation. What’s important is to not suffer in silence!
How have you dealt with anxiety or depression during the pandemic? Any tips or tricks that have worked really well for you or someone you know? Let us know in the comments below.