Best Tips to Cope With Anxiety in 2021 & Beyond

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how to cope with anxiety in 2021 and beyond

The Day I Realised I Need to Learn To Cope With Anxiety

I never understood what people meant when they said they feel anxious, or they are having a panic attack. Until yesterday! I woke up with a feeling of dread and could not place where the feeling emanated from. I told myself to pull myself together, I mean what is this all about? However, during the day, the feeling of anxiousness closed in on me, and I felt as if I was in a deep dark chamber with no escape. I tried to keep this feeling to myself if possible but ended up telling a close friend how I was feeling. Just by that very action, I felt slightly lighter as I was not judged, but listened to.

Over the last week, I have spoken to and witnessed people how are going through the very same feelings and anxieties as myself.

“Everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always”
— Robin Williams

Why do I mention this? It seems that many people that have never felt real anxiety are suddenly experiencing some form of stress, anxiousness or feeling of helplessness. It is obviously the effects of Covid and what that has brought to all of us, and we are only now starting to see the effects of the continuous relentless stress we are under. There must be more to this though! Is it the inability of us to manage our stress? Is it the environment we find ourselves in at this unnatural time? All I know that this experience has been eye opening for me, and I now have so much more empathy and understanding for someone going through this scary space.

We need to be hyper aware. We need to make sure that we look after our emotional state as well as our physical wellbeing. Otherwise, it is so easy to fall into the spiral of despair and anxiety. So, the good news is that we can control and even overcome these anxieties.

 

Tips To Cope with Anxiety

Understanding your anxiety

For many people, the uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We still don’t know exactly how we’ll be impacted, how long this will last, or how bad things might get. And that makes it all too easy to catastrophize and spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic. But there are many things you can do—even in the face of this unique crisis—to manage your anxiety and fears.

 

Stay informed—but don’t obsessively check the news

It’s vital to stay informed, particularly about what’s happening in your community, so you can follow advised safety precautions and do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus. But there’s a lot of misinformation going around, as well as sensationalistic coverage that only feeds into fear. It’s important to be discerning about what you read and watch.
Limit how often you check for updates. Constant monitoring of news and social media feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive—fuelling anxiety rather than easing it. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly.

Step away from media if you start feeling overwhelmed. If anxiety is an ongoing issue, consider limiting your media consumption to a specific time frame and time of day (e.g., thirty minutes each evening at 6 pm).

 

anxiety

 

Focus on the things you can control

We’re in a time of massive upheaval. There are so many things outside of our control, including how long the pandemic lasts, how other people behave, and what’s going to happen in our communities. That’s a tough thing to accept, and so many of us respond by endlessly searching the Internet for answers and thinking over all the different scenarios that might happen. But as long as we’re focusing on questions with unknowable answers and circumstances outside of our personal control, this strategy will get us nowhere—aside from feeling drained, anxious, and overwhelmed.

When you feel yourself getting caught up in fear of what might happen, try to shift your focus to things you can control. For example, you can’t control how severe the coronavirus outbreak is in your city or town, but you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk (and the risk you’ll unknowingly spread it to others).

 

Plan for what you can

Write down specific worries you have about how coronavirus may disrupt your life. If you start feeling overwhelmed, take a break.
Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to get too hung up on “perfect” options. Include whatever comes to mind that could help you get by.

Focus on concrete things you can problem solve or change, rather than circumstances beyond your control.

After you’ve evaluated your options, draw up a plan of action. When you’re done, set it aside and resist the urge to go back to it until you need it, or your circumstances significantly change.

 

How to stop “what-ifs” from spiralling

Relinquishing our desire for certainty and control is easier said than done. If you feel yourself start to spin out into negativity or panic, grounding yourself in the present moment can stop the negative spiral and allow your rational brain to come back online.

The technique is simple yet effective: Bring your attention to your breath and your body. Focus all of your attention on the here and now: noticing the sights, sounds, and smells around you and what you’re feeling in your body. Continue to breath slowly in and out—gently bringing your mind back to your body and breath every time it drifts—until you feel calmer.

 

Stay connected — even when physically isolated

Evidence shows that many people with coronavirus—particularly young, seemingly healthy people—don’t have symptoms but can still spread the virus. That’s why the biggest thing that most people can do right now to make a positive difference is to practice social distancing.

But social distancing comes with its own risks. Humans are social animals. We’re hardwired for connection. Isolation and loneliness can exacerbate anxiety and depression, and even impact our physical health. That’s why it’s important to stay connected as best we can and reach out for support when we need it, even as we cut back on in-person socializing.

Make it a priority to stay in touch with friends and family. If you tend to withdraw when depressed or anxious, think about scheduling regular phone, chat, or Zoom dates to counteract that tendency.

Don’t let coronavirus dominate every conversation. It’s important to take breaks from stressful thoughts about the pandemic to simply enjoy each other’s company—to laugh, share stories, and focus on other things going on in our lives.

 

Emotions are contagious, so be wise about who you turn to for support

Most of us need reassurance, advice, or a sympathetic ear during this difficult time. But be careful who you choose as a sounding board. The coronavirus is not the only thing that’s contagious. So are emotions! Avoid talking about the virus with people who tend to be negative or who reinforce and ramp up your fears. Turn to the people in your life who are thoughtful, level-headed, and good listeners.

 

Take care of your body and spirit

This is an extraordinarily trying time, and all the tried-and-true stress management strategies apply, such as eating healthy meals, getting plenty of sleep, and meditating. Beyond that, here are some tips for practicing self-care in the face of the unique disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

 

Be kind to yourself

Go easy on yourself if you’re experiencing more depression or anxiety than usual. You’re not alone in your struggles.

 

Maintain a routine as best you can

Even if you’re stuck at home, try to stick to your regular sleep, school, meal, or work schedule. This can help you maintain a sense of normalcy.

Take time out for activities you enjoy

Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board, or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.

 

Get out in nature, if possible

Sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Even a walk around your neighbourhood can make you feel better. Just be sure to avoid crowds, keep your distance from people you encounter, and obey restrictions in your area.

 

Find ways to exercise

Staying active will help you release anxiety, relieve stress, and manage your mood. While gym and group classes may be out, you can still cycle, hike, or walk. Or if you’re stuck at home, look online for exercise videos you can follow. There are many things you can do even without equipment, such as yoga and exercises that use your own bodyweight.

 

Avoid self-medicating

Be careful that you’re not using alcohol or other substances to deal with anxiety or depression. If you tend to overdo it in the best of times, it may be a good idea to avoid for now.

 

Take up a relaxation practice

When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring you back into a state of equilibrium. Regular practice delivers the greatest benefits, so see if you can set aside even a little time every day.

 

Help others (it will make you feel better)

At times like this, it’s easy to get caught up in your own fears and concerns. But amid all the stories of people fighting over wearing face masks or lining up outside gun stores to arm themselves, it’s important to take a breath and remember that we’re all in this together. As a quote circulating in Italy reminds us: “We’re standing far apart now so we can embrace each other later.”

It’s no coincidence that those who focus on others in need and support their communities, especially during times of crises, tend to be happier and healthier than those who act selfishly. Helping others not only makes a difference to your community—and even to the wider world at this time—it can also support your own mental health and well-being. Much of the anguish accompanying this pandemic stem from feeling powerless. Doing kind and helpful acts for others can help you regain a sense of control over your life—as well as adding meaning and purpose.

Even when you’re self-isolating or maintaining social distance, there’s still plenty you can do to help others.

Be a calming influence. If friends or loved ones are panicking, try to help them gain some perspective on the situation. Instead of scaremongering or giving credence to false rumours, refer them to reputable news sources. Being a positive, uplifting influence in these anxious times can help you feel better about your own situation too.

Be kind to others. An infectious disease is not connected to any racial or ethnic group, so speak up if you hear negative stereotypes that only promote prejudice. With the right outlook and intentions, we can all ensure that kindness and charity spread throughout our communities even faster than this virus.

I hope that you find something in this article that will assist you if you are feeling anxious and slightly overwhelmed.
And remember, It is OK not to be OK.

 

 

Tip Excerpts from an article by: Melinda Smith on how to cope with anxiety here: https://www.ivystreetschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Coping-with-Stress-Fear-and-Worry.pdf

Check out our last article on taking risks and managing fear: https://ghmgroup.co.za/self-improvement/taking-risks-managing-fear/ 

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