Everything Around Me Feels Stressful. How Can I Reduce My Anxiety?
September 9, 2020
It’s safe to say 2020 isn’t quite turning out how anyone had planned. Between the pandemic, a difficult political climate, global economic struggles, school closures, and reduced socialization with family and friends, the environment we are all living in has been stressful, to say the least. At times like this, it is important to pay attention to what your mind and body need. Here are some ways you can reduce your anxiety when things around you feel out of control and difficult.
Focus on “being” instead of always “doing.”
One of the ways we often attempt to exert control over our environment is by making ourselves overly busy. The problem with this is that it usually only works for a short amount of time before we end up feeling more overwhelmed than we did when we started. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a break. In fact, taking some downtime allows you to actually experience your feelings, which in turn can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Try 5-10 minute meditations or relaxation exercises. Listen to your favorite music. Do some stretches or yoga out in the sun. Read a chapter in a good book. Journal for 10 minutes.
Whatever you do, make sure it allows your mind to rest so that you can be present with your feelings. Doing this frequently will help you return to your daily responsibilities with a clearer head. Learn to let yourself “be” sometimes so that when it comes time to “do,” you can engage mindfully.
Everyone says this, but how often do you actually do it? It might seem oversimplified but breathing slowly and deeply has been proven to lower your heart rate and refocus your mind. Inhale deeply and slowly for five seconds, hold for one second, and then exhale slowly for five seconds. Repeat for 5-10 breaths. The important thing is to slow both your body and mind down through your rhythmic breathing.
There is a lot going on in the world right now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try finding simple ways to get involved and make a difference. Join a call campaign for something you care about. It will help break you out of your daily stress and give you a sense of feeling accomplished. Being of service to others helps get us outside of our own heads and helps improve mental well-being. If you find you feel like you are running on a hamster wheel, try volunteering and helping others.
Move your body.
Find a form of exercise that brings you joy. Yes, joy. Too often, people think of “exercise” as something awful you must do for 30-45 minutes because the doctor said so. If this is true for you, it’s likely the negative impact this has on your mental health is undoing the positive physical impacts! Choose an activity that promotes peace for you. Maybe it is a brisk walk at a local park or practicing yoga in your living room to soothing music. Maybe it is putting on the music and having an impromptu dance party with the kids or walking the dog around the block. Whatever feels good for you, do it and allow yourself to experience being in your body instead of tied up in your mind.
Maintain a routine (but don’t be too rigid).
Keeping to a routine can help when you are feeling stressed out or anxious, particularly right now with so many people working from home. For many, our work and home lives are blending together, and it can be hard to disconnect. Try to maintain a decent sleep schedule to ensure your body and mind are well rested and prepared for the next day. Plan to have healthy meals and snacks at home, and plan time for breaks, physical activity, and other important activities into your week. As with exercise above, becoming too rigid will work against you! If something pleasurable presents itself and interrupts your regular routine, do it! The important thing is to stay flexible.
Talk to someone.
Confiding in your support system about your stress and anxiety can help alleviate some of the burden. It can make you feel less alone to know you have the support of others around you. Sometimes, we feel embarrassed of our feelings or our need for help and try to hide them. This only makes them worse, as hidden feelings fester in the dark.
During a time of social distancing, seeking support is a bit more difficult so you may need to get creative. Facetime or Skype with family. Make a phone call. Send a text. Write a letter. In addition, licensed mental health professionals are always available via CHE’s telehealth services. Your appointment may be covered by your insurance--start the appointment process here if you would like a bit more support