How to cope with anxiety in uncertain times
In Europe, and all over the world, many people suffer from loneliness and anxiety. Statistics show that 43% percent of the adults in the US and 18% in Europe have been feeling lonely and are socially isolated. These numbers are set to increase during the confinement of Covid-19 quarantine and the feelings of isolation and loneliness are expected to worsen.
The human being, is a social being, and is quite dependent on thinking, socializing and planning. In these unprecedented times, it calls for us to adapt to a new condition of confinement in which we cannot socialize or plan.
While parents are under pressure to maintain a balance between working from home and taking care of their children. Children are full of energy, and are disappointed they cannot go to school or play with their friends.
There is also an added pressure on family caregivers to retain their jobs, while trying hard to satisfy their family’s basic needs. The old and vulnerable become even more isolated as they are left alone in an effort to stay safe and healthy. In this very insecure time, the future is not certain for any of us.
How to avoid anxiety
It’s safe to say that this is a historic moment for this generation, many feel anxiety on a daily basis which is now exacerbated by feelings of fear amidst the global pandemic. What if I get the virus? How can I protect my loved ones? What should I believe from what I hear on the news? When will we get out of this? Some of the most common fears about Covid-19 are related to family, finances and job security.
All these questions and many more are asked every day by people looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. While we might not have all the answers for the shape of things to come, there are some techniques we can use to cope in this time of uncertainty..
Let’s use all the means we have to make it through this very difficult period that looks like a scenario from a movie.
Here are some tips on making it through the day, to face your anxiety and to feel better mentally and physically.
10 ways to cope with Corona anxiety
1. Explore self-management strategies such as yoga or meditation.
When you feel anxious and worried, try meditation. Take off your shoes and close your eyes and just think about the sensation that your feet give you. Grounding yourself in the awareness of your feet and the physical sensations of your body helps to understand your senses. Curiosity may distract you, but stay focused on being present and in the moment.
Nature can be very relaxing. If you have a window, stand there and stay focused on the nature that attracts your attention. Look at a tree, for example. Nature can be healing.
2. Talk about your feelings.
If you are feeling grief, anxiety and frustration, remember that this is a normal reaction at this time. Being able to talk about your feelings, to experience them and not to run away from them, can be very helpful. If talking with friends or family is not helpful, don’t feel embarrassed and ask for professional help. Our emotions are not dangerous.
3. Maintain social media hygiene.
Avoid exposing yourself to endless Coronavirus coverage. Try and stay with the facts and cut back on the time you spend checking the news. Knowing what is happening does reduce uncertainty but constantly checking for updates can take its toll on your mental health.
Try checking the news once a day. Choose two reliable sources of information that you trust and just check these two for a limited time only, for example 2 chunks of 30 minutes each.
4. Use technology to connect with loved ones.
This might be more difficult for people of an older age that are not used to technology or even for technophobes that don’t like to use technology.
For introverted people, who are used to spending more alone. Quarantine may be easier for them to handle and they could probably teach us a lot. However, for social butterflies it can be tough, not being able to see friends, and family, or to hug, touch and kiss them.
When it is possible to make a video call, body language and facial expressions are very important for connection. We can still be socially close without being physically close. So use technology to talk with your family and friends.
5. Be kind to yourself and to others.
Kindness can be what psychologists call a ‘Bigger Better Offer’. Being stuck inside can make you feel paralysed, so use this time to do something and contribute to your community. Be kind to yourself and to others. Try to help your family and your community where you can. This will create a feeling of reward and satisfaction as we have more empathy for others.
6. Have a program and stay close to your normal routine.
This will keep you active and less likely to spiral into anxiety or fear. Try to maintain some structure by keeping meal times, and sleeping and waking up times on a set schedule. Lethargic lifestyles could lead to negative thinking.
When confined at home you cannot control much of the outside world, therefore try to keep some kind of control and structure in your program at home that will help your productivity. Doing at least one productive thing per day could lead to a more positive attitude.
7. Make time to unwind.
Do something that you enjoy, use the time that has been taken from your social activities to do something for yourself, to get to know yourself better and grow as a person. Start a new quarantine ritual, something special that will help you look forward to each day.
Being creative can be very helpful, read, write, try to paint, re-decorate the house, watch a movie etc. Many of us have used the phrase “when I have time I will do…this or that” Although it is difficult to take your mind off of the situation, try to do it, as it will give you some sort of satisfaction that can be more rewarding than a continued state of worrying.
8. Stay physically healthy.
Exercise helps our body produce hormones, supports our immune system and promotes cell signalling to work better. If you are allowed to go outside then have a run or just a simple walk. If not, try workout videos at home that will help you get into a daily routine. Light exercise will help you feel more active.
9. Get enough sleep each night.
Rest your mind and body and help your immune system recover. Lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick, and research has shown that approximately 10% of your genome is under circadian control, including the genes that influence your immune function. Your immune cells are also under circadian control.
10. Eat well for a robust immune system.
It is very important for your body and mind to have the support of a strong immune system. Here are some ways to boost it.
- Cut out sugar and avoid processed foods.
- Take a high-quality probiotic. The health benefits derived from probiotics are connected to the balancing of your intestinal bacteria. You can do that by eating fermented vegetables.
- Increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps balance your gut microbiome and improve your immune system.
- Take one or more immune boosting supplements. A healthy whole food diet is foundational for health but is not always enough. Nutrients that are important for healthy immune function include vitamins A, C, D3, K1, K2, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.
- Drink tea. The high antioxidant levels in some teas such as chaga tea may help boost your immune function.
Human beings are social beings and not being able to be physically social can cause anxiety and fear. Anxiety is a normal and an expected reaction to the isolation you are experiencing at this time. However it’s important to remember that as humans we are highly adaptable, and there are always support mechanisms to help you through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
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