I recently read a great article about how anxiety can negatively affect our health, stress our immune systems, and actually cause us to become more susceptible to illness. While this is good information, it can also cause those who are anxious to feel even more anxious about their anxiety. Welcome to the mysterious world of living inside your head.
Here’s the thing: cutting through the static of anxiety is not as simple as turning the station or flipping it off altogether. Trust me, if it were, I’m fairly certain the issue would no longer exist. Instead, anxiety disorders are affecting 40 million adults in the U.S.1
So, if you’re struggling in this crazy COVID season, here are 10 things that might help you deal…
1. Get Outside
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, duh.” I know, I know… But the other day I was in the middle of a very anxious moment and reached out to my best friend. She listened and then suggested I step outside and feel the sun and wind. I know that sunshine and fresh air are mood-boosters, but sometimes the practical reminder in the moment is just what you need. It’s always free, available, and still allowed. So don’t discount it! Bonus: sunlight is a natural disinfectant—take that, COVID!2
2. Play Like a Kid
Our family went for a walk last night to try and kill some cabin fever, and our son kept begging me to race him. I finally gave in (toddlers are relentless). We raced, played tag, and skipped around; he had me laughing so hard. I snapped out of my head and into the moment without even trying. There’s a reason why kids are light-hearted. So go ahead and play like one.
3. Laugh It Off
Speaking of laughing, that in and of itself is a great tip. It’s like an instant reset for me. Talk to someone who always makes you laugh, scroll through some memes (pandemic life has given the whole world plenty of material), play a game, or turn on a comedy. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
You might enjoy this light-hearted and funny episode of our podcast This Grit and Grace Life:
Girl Code: Secrets From Our Unofficial Rule Book – 090
4. Cry It Out
This probably sounds odd, but sometimes a good cry can do the trick. According to an article in PsychCentral, crying removes toxins, elevates mood, lowers tension, and releases feelings (among other health benefits). For me, it relieves tension and my body feels calm and peaceful afterward. Similar to laughing, find ways to give your body this physical relief.
5. Talk About It
Talk about what’s bothering you, or just the feelings you’re experiencing… Sometimes anxiety is just a feeling and you don’t know why it’s there. Talk about that! Dealing with this issue can make you feel alone and uncertain. Bringing a trusted person into it helps free you from loneliness and provides reassurance. There have been so many times when a friend says just the right thing to calm my spirit. Often they don’t even realize it was a big deal, but sometimes the simplest words can infuse peace.
6. Write It Out
Journaling is a great way to cope, decompress, and process. Anxiety can cause irrational fears to seem very real. Sometimes it can feel embarrassing (though it shouldn’t) to share those thoughts with others because you know they may sound irrational. A piece of paper is a safe place to get it out first and may help you communicate with others later on. I liken journaling to purging out a closet. As Marie Kondo says, first you have to take everything out and lay it on the bed to look it over and determine how each item makes you feel. Thoughts and feelings can pile up in our mind if we don’t take the time to deal with them, so sometimes you need to brain dump and sort through it all.
7. Tackle a Project
Anxiety can give you lots of nervous energy. So, harness that energy to accomplish something. I was feeling stressed the other day and started to sweep the floor. The rhythmic motion and progression from one side of the house to the other became soothing. Wiping down cabinets, cleaning baseboards, and painting all give me this similar feeling. Or, take on a bigger project. Refurbish a piece of furniture, purge any area in your home (decluttering itself is therapeutic), revitalize a space in your home (like a basement or back porch) to become a more useful space. There’s something about starting a fun project and completing it that feels so rewarding. Plus, as you work you’ll find yourself focusing on your next step rather than the white noise anxiety can create in your mind.
8. Cuddle Up Close
I was hesitant to include this one for various reasons, but it works for me so I’m just going to lay it out here. The other night I was trying to fall asleep, but my chest was tightening and my heart was fluttering and jolting from palpitations; I started praying and taking deep breaths in an effort to battle it and calm my body. My husband (who I thought was asleep) interrupted me and said, “Come lay on my chest.” I did, and as I felt the steady thud of his heartbeat under my cheek I found that mine began slowing down. A few minutes later the physical symptoms were gone and I fell asleep quickly. I’ve also felt this way when my kids snuggle up to me or even my dog, too. It doesn’t matter who it is, I just think the simple touch of another living thing reminds your body it’s not alone.
9. Consider Your Surroundings
That same article that told me not to worry for the sake of my health also gave a really helpful, practical suggestion: limit your news intake to 30 minutes a day. Now, at first I wrote this off. However, I did realize that the very tone of the news was bothering me. Sort of like a dripping sink, the raised voices and seemingly endless arguments were a nuisance slowly wearing on my mind. So, I turned it off. My husband and I also deviated from our normal murder mystery show at night and switched to The Voice. It’s a feel-good type of show and I found myself crying happy tears for people living out their dreams and laughing at the judges’ crossfire conversations. Consider the input that’s coming into your life and adjust (even seemingly minor things) to surround yourself with inspiration and positivity.
10. Set Up a Time for Fun
Even though we’re social distancing, it doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with friends. We need our people, now more than ever! So, set a time and date, get them on FaceTime, and meet in the comfort of your own cell—I mean, home. Laugh about the craziness that is life right now, like the lady who was behind me in line at the grocery store asking every person in the vicinity to use her hand sanitizer. Or, better yet, don’t talk about it at all. Just try to be as normal as possible and enjoy a little reprieve.
These are just a few simple, holistic ways to try and help yourself out of your head. There are times when you can and should take further steps toward dealing with anxiety, and we would always encourage you to do whatever you need to be the healthiest version of you! Below are a few more resources that you may find helpful, so check them out!
Keep up to date with all the content we have related to coronavirus here!
For more articles and resources on anxiety, start here:
Ask Dr. Zoe – Anxiety: What is Normal, When Do I Seek Help?
Our Grit and Grace Life… Battling Anxiety?
How to Feel Your Emotions in a Healthy Way With Dr. Zoe Shaw
Can Faith Bring Hope to Everything—Even Anxiety?
Ask Dr. Zoe – Coping With Anxiety Biblically
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