Anxiety tools for difficult times

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As I write this, the world is enveloped in crisis. The fast spread of the Covid-19 virus is impacting us all, regardless of nationality, gender, race or age. Tough times require tough measures, like the reduction of social contact.

It’s a logical approach, but logic doesn’t do anything thing to control our emotions. The risk of infection causes anxiety to many people. After all, it’s not the inconvenience from isolation, it’s the danger to our health.

It’s natural to feel stressed, it is a reaction we all have built in. It provides us with a mechanism to respond to events outside ourselves. However, it can be very destructive.

How to cope with anxiety

1. Put your thoughts to paper

As you feel overwhelmed or panicked, the mind is racing. There are all these thoughts flying in, of all the bad things that can happen, and nothing you can do about them. No wonder anxiety is exhausting!

Writing a diary or a journal is a simple way to confine these thoughts somewhere else. Once you dump those fears onto paper, you are much more capable to challenge them.

Do you have solutions for these fears? Are they even real fears? Everything gains perspective once it’s on paper, I find. So much is built in our minds that it’s hard to differentiate what’s true from what isn’t. But once it’s written, it’s clear.

In any case, just the act to list your worries makes it easier to let go of them. They’re elsewhere, not inside, not being destructive. You may even be able to close the notebook and forget about them, if only for a few minutes only.

2. Practice meditation

There are several scientific studies that demonstrate that meditation helps boost the immune system, makes you more resilient to stress, and helps with anxiety management.

Many different types of meditation exist, but all of them have one thing in common: they calm you down, and help you manage outside circumstances more effectively.

Choose a quiet and comfortable place and focus on your breathing. Just that. Keep your mind focused on that and let go of any other thoughts.

You don’t have to be reciting some mantra or visualising anything. Hypnosis uses a variety of tools including visualisation to achieve inner peace, but these days visiting a therapist isn’t exactly recommended (although some like myself offer online support).

Praying can also be a form of meditation, if you want some extra help. With origins from Buddhism, this won’t be a surprise. The reason why that works, and indeed any form of meditation, is due to the impact on the heart rate and blood pressure, metabolism, or respiration.

3. Get your body engaged through yoga

The physical demand of yoga will add another dimension to the breathing exercise. Simply put, the movement of the body requires the focus to be on your muscles, and the positions. If you struggle keeping your mind off things while breathing, this will give you the distraction you need.

That’s because you can’t really get onto a downward dog or a warrior pose without thinking of how your body is moving, since safety will always be something at the back of your mind. Stretching relieves tension in your muscles and teaches your body to relax.

Bottom line

Taking care of oneself in times of worry is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. For those of you that may feel anxiety frequently, the above is likely not new. However, don’t let the recent virus concerns add to it, you can’t control what’s around you, but you do have a say on the way you experience it.

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