We talked with Brooke Zuzow who is a licensed mental health therapist and she helped us with tips on anxiety management during a pandemic. This is a time of uncertainty, isolation and change and this can increase the likelihood for people to have anxiety and stress.
Maintain Structure and Routine
Practicing a routine that includes a set wake and sleep time will help to keep a bit of normalcy in this time of change. For those that aren’t working and are feeling like they have too many open hours this is the time to take on a new project, develop an interest or hobby to get the mind busy. Time blocking is a valuable way to do this and you can do a large project and then break it down for each day to have a sense of purpose and productivity.
Get Ready for Your Day
When you get out of your pajamas then you are signaling to your body a change is happening. This shift is important for breaking up the day and for giving us energy to be productive during the day. This will make you feel better overall.
Limit News Outlets
Decide a source or two that you trust and choose to tune out of the rest. Right now you could consume content on the coronavirus all day if you wanted to and that’s not helpful for feelings of anxiety and stress.
Focus on the Controllables
Focusing on what you can control like having an emergency plan, cleaning our house, washing our hands and following social distancing guidelines etc. Focusing on the things we can’t control will make us feel a sense of helplessness and anxiety.
Challenge Thoughts with Facts
What we think will lead to feelings and so we need to be prepared to check our thoughts against the facts. Redirecting our thoughts and steering clear from the following questions starting in would be and what if and mights because they lead us down to fear of what could happen. Rather than doing this focusing on what is accurate and true is better for anxiety. Remind yourself that you have made precautions and that you are prepared. Talking to yourself like a best friend would talk to you in a situation this would help as well.
Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude
Mindfulness is thinking of the present moment without judgement. You acknowledge what you are feeling so you can feel it in the moment. This includes being in the moment even when it isn’t something positive. Practicing mindfulness will help you to be more in the present, rather than having one foot in the future or the past. This is a something that takes practice and check out the show notes here for some mindfulness exercise to learn how to do something. Doing a Gratitude practice will help you to focus on what you have, the positives of what you are thankful for and overall shift your mindset.
This is a great time to engage more deeply with your higher power. Connecting spiritually will be a great way to give it to God when things feel too heavy for you to bear.
Radical acceptance is whole heartedly accepting a situation. This works around the idea that even though we don’t like what’s happening we can still accept it. This is the idea that we can accept things for what it is and make the best of it. Part of this is accepting that you can just “do your best and forget the rest” This is stuff, and what we can do is try the best we can to take care of ourselves, our families, eat a good diet, exercise and just do our best.
During this time we are having to work from home, homeschool and manage a lot of uncertainty. This is the time to show yourself a little grace and wasting energy going against what we can’t change is just going to leave us frustrated and anxious.
Each day it’s good to spend time alone. If this is going for a walk around the block, waking up early to get time for yourself or to schedule with your partner as if this is a meeting. Scheduling this will be key in giving you a time to rest, reflect and regroup. Journaling, reading, walking, yoga, meditation and even sitting with a cup of coffee are all great ideas.
Get Creative with Social Interactions
With the internet and apps like Zoom, Google Hang out, House Party and more there are options to connect with others. Facetiming a friend, connecting for a virtual game or a quick voice text can help to feel like your not alone and also build community. Dropping off supplies to people, drive through parades for birthdays in lieu of parties are other ways to show up for others. We may be separate in our houses, but we are all together in this and will make it through this with the help of one another.
Talk to a Professional
Talking to a professional virtually can help to work through concerns, fears and help to practice positive self talk, mindfulness and build strategies around bringing you back to a place of peace. Connect with Brooke Zuzow here to connect for referrals or to work with her.