Many of us are feeling anxious about COVID-19 and since it is currently the new normal, we can’t let it get us too upset. Dr. Alicia H. Clark, a clinical psychologist who writes a Wellness Digest, suggests the following:
- Remember, anxiety is normal, and can be a powerful catalyst for problem-solving, and mobilizing change. There is nothing wrong with you if you are feeling anxious about COVID- 19 – we all should be. The trick is to let anxiety do its job, and use it to take control of what you can and need to in your life. This is what has us preparing, planning, and hand-washing.
- Stay informed, but not too much. COVID-19 coverage is nonstop, and consuming too much can be anxiety-producing. Pick reputable information sources and limit exposure if you notice yourself feeling worse.
- Maintain self-care basics of sleep, exercise, and fitness. Keeping up your sleep (7.5 hours minimum) and fitness (at least 15 minutes of aerobic exercise) will help your brain best manage the uptick in stress in anxiety, whereas alcohol and caffeine will make this harder. Eating plenty of nutrient-dense food (fruits, vegetables, and protein) will also help boost your body’s natural immune system, as well as your mind.
- Maintain contact with friends and loved ones even if it’s at a distance. Get outside with friends at a distance, and use technology to stay connected. Talking about your feelings and listening to others is a powerful way of soothing anxiety, and reminding us we are not alone.
- Limit secondary anxiety – anxiety about your anxiety is the kind of anxiety that can tip you into symptomatic anxiety and irrational fears. Try not to let yourself get freaked out that you are distracted and even frightened. Instead, channel those feelings into doing the things you need to do to prepare and keep yourself healthy.
- If anxiety gets overwhelming, use a grounding technique like 5-4-3-2-1 related to your 5 senses. 5 things you see in front of you right now, 4 things you can feel right now (desktop, the chair, etc), 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Or take some deep belly breaths to remind your nervous system you’re ok.
- Expect fatigue and rest. Anxiety and stress can be cognitively draining, and you may find yourself feeling extra tired lately. Downtime and rest will allow your body and mind to recover, so you can be at your best.
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