If you’re feeling anxious about what’s happening around the world you’re not alone. Last week I felt so bombarded by the news that I fell into a negative overwhelmed state so I decided to unplug over the weekend.
Distancing myself from what was going on made me feel so much better. I realised that because the world is panicking right now, it’s easy to take on this feeling of panic too.
In case it helps I wanted to share some steps to help with anxiety during this time, which I will also be practicing.
- Set Boundaries with the news and fear based conversations
Keeping up to date on COVID-19 is sensible and needed. But obsessively checking the news and entering fearful conversations about what might happen does not help. Limiting yourself to checking the news once or twice a day is all you need to stay updated. Anything more than that is counterproductive.
If your office has TVs with the news on, maybe ask the office manager to switch it off. If there are people who talk about the situation all the time, walk away of change the conversation. Honestly, a 24-7 reminder of COVID-19 is not good for your mental health.
- Turn your phone off an hour before going to bed
This is a good one to do no matter what’s going on in the world. To get a good nights sleep we need to be able to relax and switch off. Checking the news whilst in bed or whilst you’re trying to relax does not help. Switch off your notifications and put your phone aside.
- Help others
If you’re fit and healthy showing no symptoms then maybe you can help your neighbours and any vulnerable people in your area. You could pop a note through their letter box (after washing your hands!) with your phone number and the tasks that you’d be happy to help with, such as fetching groceries.
- Be grateful
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed the quickest way to feel better is by listing everything you’re grateful for. What right now what are you grateful for? List them out. Also remember the times when you may have said “there’s not enough time”. Over the coming weeks one thing you’ll have more of is time. Time at home. Time to reflect. Time to paint, garden, cook, read or anything else you feel you never have time for. Make the most of it!
- Set intentions
If you’re self-isolating or if you need to stay at home for the next few weeks and you’re healthy, then setting an intention may help.
Intentions will help you move from not knowing what to do with yourself, to a state of purpose. Sometimes simply knowing what you want to focus on or improve over a space of time can give more clarity and peace.
For example, if you’ve been unhappy in your job, you may want to set the intention of using the next month to reflect and understand why this is. Maybe you can come up with new job ideas. Or if you have a few unfinished DIY projects, you might want to dedicate the next month to finishing these off. Or maybe you want to use the time to focus 100% on you. To rest, sleep and do nothing. That’s okay too!
- Distract Yourself
Seems like an obvious one but distracting yourself really does help. Particularly if it’s with something you enjoy. Does the gardening need doing? Or have you always wanted to learn to draw? Now’s the perfect time! Do what you can to distract yourself and make sure your phone notifications are off!
- Focus on the present
Worry and anxiety is caused by not knowing what might happen in the future. It’s a feeling of lack of control.
But right now, as you read this you are safe.
Turn your attention to what’s happening in this very moment. Focus on these questions:
What can you see in front of you right now?
What can you touch that’s in reach and how does it feel in your hands?
What can you hear? Is it noisy? Or quiet? Can you hear people talking? Is there air-con? Birds maybe?
By focusing on this very moment you can pause your whirling mind and feel more relaxed or at peace.
I hope some of these steps help you to feel more calm and less overwhelmed. These are tricky times but we can stay positive and find the good!