10 tips for reducing anxiety we all need right now
The coronavirus crisis has plunged the world into a state of fear and uncertainty. Yes a level of concern is totally understandable but news outlets and social media relentlessly bombarding us is taking anxiety to new levels. So, what can you do about it?
At times like these, where everything feels out of your control, it’s more important than ever to nurture your wellbeing, especially if you’re prone to anxiety already.
Last week the World Health Organisation released valuable advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic - below are 10 self-care tips we could all benefit from trying this week.
1) Limit health-related news
Try to limit excessive exposure to COVID-19 news. Yes, we all want to keep up to date, but it’s easy to get sucked into the media vortex (we’re guilty too!) only to come out of the hole hours later feeling like a ball of anxiety. Checking the news compulsively isn't going to do your mental health any favours.
The WHO recommends only seeking necessary updates in order to take practicals steps to protect yourself and those around you. Below are some additional tips to help limit overexposure to media.
- Allocate yourself a time limit and set time of day to consume news media
- Delete social media apps
- Disable push notifications from news apps
- If you’re worried about missing crucial information ask your friends or family to update you with any urgent developments
- Don’t believe everything you read online. It’s important to remember there is a lot of misinformation circulating online. Stick to trusted news sources only like the government, NHS and WHO.
2) Stay active
Whether you’re working from home, in mandatory self-isolation or just want to avoid the gym, don’t give up on exercise all together. There are plenty of online workouts and fitness apps you can do at home, which don’t require equipment. Exercise is your best friend right now – aside from the obvious, there is an overflowing list of surprising exercise benefits for the mind and body…to name a few:
- It’s proven to reduce stress, depression and anxiety
- It releases endorphins (the happy chemical) and the more we can get the better!
- It helps keep you motivated (key for those working from home!
- It boosts energy
- It keeps your physical health in check – we all know long sedentary periods (and hanging out of the fridge…) aren't great for physical health
3) Practice meditation
A daily meditation practice is like a shower for the mind, and the more regularly you do it, the more balanced the mind becomes. This can simply be 5-10 minutes of practice in the morning or before bed. Any meditation is good; whether it’s breath awareness, mindfulness, chanting, or even a guided meditation on an app such as Headspace or Calm.
4) Prioritise sleep
Getting enough sleep gives you a greater ability to cope with stress. Sleep brings hormones into balance, calms the nervous system, rests the body and mind and gives you energy to cope with life.
5) Stay connected
Self-isolation doesn’t have to mean no FaceTime ;) Thankfully, technology today means we can easily stay connected to friends and family. Utilise social media for its original purpose – to connect. Whether its funny memes, MAFs debriefs or just checking in on each other, keep those who put a smile on your dial close.
5) Work-life balance
Don’t bury yourself in work in order to avoid the chaos. The reality is we have weeks or months ahead of the coronavirus pandemic so it’s crucial not to burnout and prioritise downtime.
6) Eat well
Anyone else find working from home not great for the waistline? When routine is thrown out of whack or you’re feeling emotional, it’s tempting to snack when you normally wouldn’t and eat comfort food. Health food is good for the soul. Eat more wholefoods and fewer processed foods, drink adequate water, reduce caffeine and eat regular healthy snacks to keep your sugar levels balanced and your energy levels stable.
7) Vitamins and minerals
B vitamins aid healthy brain and nervous system function but they get depleted with stress. Consider taking a B complex supplement daily to manage anxiety. Magnesium is also known to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. It’s also wise right now to take immunity-boosting supplements and multivitamins.
8) Read a book
Turn off your phone and immerse yourself old-school in a comfort read. Maybe it’s a book that brings back comforting memories like Harry Potter or Twilight (no judgment here!) or mood-lifter like Bridget Jones’ Diary, there’s nothing quite like the wholesomeness of a good book to kill bad vibes. Or, if books just aren't your thing listen to a podcast - one of our favourites is Shameless, coincidentally they've just released a timely new episode, A Dose of Joy.
9) Harness the power of scent
Olfaction, also known as sense of smell, is arguably the most powerful of our six senses. Throughout human evolution, our sense of smell has been the key to survival – it’s often the first sign of danger, it can drive behaviour and influence mood. But equally, we can consciously utilise the power of smell to our advance.
Essential oils can have a positive and uplifting effect on mood and energy. Some essential oils – like peppermint or lemon - can invigorate and boost energy levels, while others can help to calm the mind and bring inner peace like lavender or ylang ylang.
10) Treat yourself
Anything that will give you a little boost can help. It doesn’t need to involve spending money: light some candles and run yourself a bath, do a pampering face mask, cook your favourite meal or watch Friends re-runs…whatever floats your boat! The only rule? Don’t feel guilty doing it.
Main image: Free People
How are you looking after yourself right now?