This is an anxious time for everyone and we are providing tips to help you cope with the uncertainties surrounding a pandemic that none of us were prepared for only a few months ago.
- Eat well, regularly and healthily. You need to keep your bodily strength up, but good food also gives you vital vitamins and minerals which help combat anxiety. Whole grains, fruit and vegetables (all the colours) will work away like magic on your anxiety levels and help to reduce them. I know cakes, biscuits and chocolate are delicious, but the extra sugar hit really isn’t good for anxiety. A little now and then is a good thing, but in fact eating sweets can make you feel psychologically worse. The same goes for alcohol; keep it to a minimum.
- Drink plenty of water. A nice cup of tea or coffee in a quiet place also surprisingly helpful for calming and soothing anxious thoughts.
- Exercise. Although we all have to keep a safe distance from each other now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t go out. In fact, going out in the daylight (even if it’s cloudy) will be beneficial for your mental health. If you have a garden, walking round the garden, performing gentle (or not so gentle, depending on your ability) aerobic exercises, skipping with a rope, stepping up and down on a low step to music, all these are examples of exercise you can perform which will help alleviate anxiety. If you haven’t got a garden, think of a route you can take from your home where you will not have to be in close proximity to others and go for a walk. Every day.
- Use virtual methods of socialising. If you are able to Facetime/Skype friends and family do this, even once a day, to the same or a different person each day, to take your mind off your anxiety. Or ring them. It will give you a plan – something to look forward to – and will keep you in touch with your world. Thinking of others, listening to what’s happening to them and offering support works surprising well in helping to reduce your own anxiety.
- Stay busy with chores. Make a list of things you can do. i.e. Clear out that cupboard, rearrange the room, declutter the wardrobe, weed the garden, etc. You do not have to do everything on the list, and not all at once, but it gives you further plans for you to tackle when you are feeling anxious. The feel good factor when you have achieved something on your list is priceless.
- Recreational activity. Listen to music, read a book, tackle crosswords, knit, sew, paint, draw, etc., etc. Any of the things which you enjoy doing but often haven’t the time to do. Anything which will either provide an escape from anxious thoughts or will require concentration, will help you.
- Avoid excessive negative messaging. Listen to the news, watching the news on TV or phone/laptop just once a day. Whilst we all need to know the latest advice regarding coronavirus and self-isolation, it is seriously anxiety-provoking to have it constantly in our ear. All you need to know will be available in one news-read. Please do not put yourself through more than this daily.
- Breathing. This simple exercise really can help when you are feeling anxious. Sit or stand in a relaxed position (tighten and loosen your muscles so that you can feel the difference between a relaxed and tense state). Concentrate on your breath and breathe in deeply to a count of 5 and breath out slowly to a count of 10. Do this several times, until you start to feel the anxiety subside enough for you to do one of the above activities.