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We are living in unprecedented times, so it’s understandable that at the moment many people are experiencing an unusual amount of anxiety. It’s easy to explain away with all of external stressors, but it feels horrible, it’s not productive and can negatively impact your health. Anxiety is useful in immediate acute “fight or flight” situations where we need an almost instantaneous response. We rapidly take in oxygen and get surge of Adrenalin, Cortisol and Norepinephrine to prepare us for the conflict at hand. But our instinctual brains don’t always differentiate between different types of threats, and we can’t effectively deal with longer term situations while we are experiencing anxiety.
Here are a few tips for dealing with some of those anxious feelings and regaining peace, calm and control.
1. B-R-E-A-T-H-E … For 3 Minutes.
This may feel impossible but you have to “break the circuit” so to speak. Set the timer on your phone and just take long, deep, s-l-o-w breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth. This technique has been proven to bring your heart back into a coherent rhythm. It’ll help steady your nerves and give you a more firm footing to move forward from.
2. Move Your Body
The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by a build-up of of the stress hormones that I mentioned above. It’s difficult for the feelings to subside with these chemicals surging through your body; it is literally the equivalent of being drunk or high. Some kind of physical exercise is needed to metabolize the stress hormones and bring your body back into normal range. Long term build-up of these chemicals can cause a range of physical problems including digestive issues and significantly increased abdominal fat so do yourself a favor and work them off if you can.
3. What’s the bigger picture?
It’s understandable to feel concern with everything going on in the world at the moment, but what are the specific issue worrying you? Is it financial pressures, fear of loosing your job or home? Health concerns? Worry for your family? Get clear on what the core issues are and then begin to look for ways to best handle each of them right now. Are the financial issues temporary or do you need to earn more? Spend less? Change jobs or careers? Or learn more about investing? If health is a concern get educated on ways you can protect yourself and your family as well as way to bolster you immune system and overall health. And if you’re feeling lonely or disconnected, maybe it’s a good time to give the relationship and friendship areas of your life a closer look and a little more love, while planning for long term changes ahead.
4. Take action.
This can be a really hard step, but also a lifesaver… do something. Do anything! What is one small step you can take to resolve the current situation? And consider going back to #2 and start dealing with the core issue. Even a micro step is empowering and often times enough to take your mind off of the worry for just a bit. Then another micro step later… and one later… this is a process not an event.
5. Find something to feel good about.
You can’t feel bad enough to make anything better. And you’re going to be better able to manage everything if you are calm, a little happier and able to focus. Pick a small indulgence or even something ridiculous just for fun. Scroll through some the hilarious TikToc videos, grab a quick fix on the newly launched Quibi or even make one. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air and feel the sunshine on your face. Or curl up with a wonderful book or movie. Just allow yourself to enjoy for a bit and with any luck keep the feeling going, plan something else for a couple of days ahead.
7. Nip it in the bud.
Anxiety is a powerful emotion, and seldom eases on its own. Before you fall too far down the rabbit hole, do what you can to curb the downward spiral. Start with even one of the small steps above, take back your wellness and your peace of mind.
8. Have a plan.
Have an emotional toolbox – your “go-to” actions for when things start feeling completely out of control again. When we are stressed and anxious, our reasoning ability diminishes. If you decide beforehand what you’re going to do when you recognize the signs of feeling anxious, it’ll be so much easier to take the needed steps.
9. Look for support.
As we’re hearing a lot of these days, “We’re all in this together.” Reach out to an online counselor or therapist, video chat with friends, call people who you love and love you right back! And if you just don’t feel up to talking to anyone, check out some of the amazing videos and meditations available on YouTube and IGTV from yoga teachers, spiritual teachers and thought leaders.
Feeling anxious affects us all at some point. It can come in varying degrees of intensity and be over a wide range of issues. And while other people feel it’s justified or not, it’s still there. It is one of the most all-consuming feelings. It feeds on itself and can be difficult to climb back out of – but you can. And by all means if your feeling anxious worsens or continues for an extended period of time, seek professional help. This isn’t a complete list, but rather a starter list. We can do miraculous things if we put our minds to it!