Coping with stress and fear during these uncertain times starts with taking care of yourself.
Emotions are running at an all-time high for individuals and families across the world right now.
Many people are feeling stressed, afraid, irritable, and even hopeless because of all of the new changes to our lives. From stay-at-home orders to social distancing practices preventing us from spending time with family and friends, life is very different from what it once was just a few months ago. As you navigate through these new changes, it’s important to make your well-being your top priority by taking care of yourself.
Self-care is the most important tool for fighting against anxiety, fear, and other uncomfortable emotions. Thankfully, taking care of yourself isn’t difficult, and is one of the most rewarding things you can do while staying at home at this time.
To help you get through this temporary new normal, here are 10 things to do every day to keep anxiety at bay.
1. Fight the strain of social distancing by taking the time to call or video chat with your loved ones on a regular basis.
Humans are social by nature, and even introverts who love their alone time still need human contact. Socializing with our friends, family, and co-workers is really tricky right now, but thankfully, living in a tech-focused digital age makes it easier compared to decades past.
Phone calls are much more personal than text messages, and video chats are even better since you get to see the person you care about. Try to reach out to important people in your life on a daily basis.
2. Yoga is the perfect stress-busting exercise, combining physical activity with relaxation.
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for relieving stress. Practicing yoga daily will not only keep you physically active, but it will also help you decompress from stress or worry.
You can find free guided yoga routines on YouTube. Look for routines designed with stress relief in mind, and pay particular attention to the ones that incorporate relaxing breathing exercises.
3. Even though anxiety feels uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that it’s natural and even helpful.
Anxiety is often automatically considered “bad,” but in reality, anxiety can actually be your friend. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations, and though chronic anxiety is not a good condition, small bouts of anxiety can be helpful.
When what’s happening in the world triggers your anxiety, think about how your anxiety is actually trying to help you. For example, maybe you just found out a friend lost their job and now you have anxiety about losing your own job. This can feel scary, but your anxious reaction can prompt you to come up with a backup plan, reshape your ideas about whether you really love your job or not, or solidify that your job is in a field you truly want to be in.
4. Turn off the news, take a break from social media, and be cautious of where you get your information from.
Spending a lot of time watching the news or scrolling through social media can take a toll on your mental health. Most media sources have a habit of painting a pretty bleak picture of current world affairs, and misinformation tends to run wild on social media platforms.
Limit how much time you spend watching the news and try to use social media as a way of connecting with loved ones. You might just find you feel much happier.
5. Take the time to consider how other life events may be shaping your reaction to the current situation.
If you’re frustrated with yourself for how you may be coping with what’s going on in the world, take a moment to consider what else has been going on in your life. If you recently lost a pet, ended a relationship, or experienced some other hardship, it’s completely normal to feel worse than someone else.
Similarly, if you’re feeling like you’re not experiencing as strong of emotions as others, that’s also completely normal. We’re all in different places in life and respond to these new situations differently.
6. When your emotions are running high, writing it down can help.
Writing or journaling is very therapeutic. When your emotions are strong and your anxiety is running high, physically writing down what you’re experiencing helps you understand what you’re feeling. And even when you can’t quite understand what you’re feeling, it gives you an outlet to release your frustrations, concerns, and whatever else you may be keeping inside.
You can also try expressive writing with journal prompts to relieve stress.
7. Try out a healthy meal or snack recipe you’ve been meaning to make and really savor it.
Studies show that cooking and baking help relieve stress by giving us a chance to express our creativity. As a bonus, look for healthy recipes so you can boost your immune system while also taking care of your body and brain.
While you’re diving into your meal or snack, practice mindfulness at the same time by really savoring every moment—the aroma of the food, how it looks, and how it tastes. Not only will you enjoy your meal even more, but you’ll also feel your stress melt away.
8. Design a comfortable daily routine that will allow you to take care of responsibilities and yourself.
Staying at home makes it tempting to be lazy, but this carefree approach can lead to too much time on social media, constant snacking, or Netflix binges that lead to no sleep, all of which can deteriorate already fragile emotions. A daily routine is an effective way of keeping yourself on track, both in terms of completing your daily tasks and making sure you set aside time for yourself.
Grab a piece of paper and outline how your ideal day would go. Keep things flexible, and as you try out a new routine, don’t be afraid to make changes if you’re feeling overwhelmed by time limits.
9. Continue practicing your faith or spirituality at home.
Social distancing has really affected how people practice their faith and spirituality because of churches closing and group gatherings being prohibited. If your faith is something you prioritize, make sure you’re continuing to practice at home.
Some ideas include making time in your own routine for private study, looking online for virtual resources, or “meeting” with other members of your faith through phone calls or video chat.
10. Rather than trying to ignore your anxiety and worries, face them head-on and ride through the wave.
One of the most frustrating things about anxiety is that the more you resist it, the more it persists. While practicing self-care is important, be aware of whether you’re avoiding your anxiety through distractions or actively combating and confronting it.
Acknowledging your anxiety doesn’t mean you’re letting it win. It actually gives you a chance to understand why you’re feeling the way you do and allow you to move past it in a healthy manner. Remember that anxiety tends to come like a wave. Keep surfing, and you’ll find that the wave eventually passes you by.
Taking care of yourself and understanding your emotions will help you come out of this situation even stronger than before.
If one thing is for certain it’s that life always changes. What’s currently going on in the world is temporary, and eventually, our lives will return to normalcy. In the meantime, consider how your current situation can actually help you come out stronger, braver, and even more grateful than before.
In a strange way, normal life being on hold gives you an opportunity to rethink what you consider important and reevaluate whether what you’re doing in your life is truly what makes you happy. Use this time wisely, and you can turn an otherwise unfortunate event into a life-changing experience.