About Stress & Anxiety
Stress is everywhere, and perhaps more visible and personal now more than ever with the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. We find ourselves in an unfamiliar time in our lives, and we all can use some ideas on managing our stress/anxiety. Here are some strategies:
- ANXIETY IS NORMAL Remember anxiety is all but inevitable in these times of uncertainty. You are not alone. It’s normal to feel worried. Elevated anxiety is a natural response to the unknown.
- IDENTIFY YOUR ANXIETY It’s best to not ignore your anxiety but to recognize your feelings and their sources. What is your specific worry? It could be your financial future, job loss, the lack of social contact, uncertainty, the future, etc. Identifying the anxiety helps to find solutions. Is the cause of your anxiety something you have control over? If so, do those productive things you can control. Pinpointing the anxiety helps to devise a solution.
- BE PROACTIVE Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Washing your hands, sanitizing surfaces, maintaining supplies, etc. are all ways to TAKE CONTROL. This will also help to mitigate your anxiety.
- LIMIT NEGATIVITY/MEDIA Avoid situations or thoughts that worsen the anxiety. This could include limiting media exposure, avoiding certain types of social media, or even negative people. It’s wise to keep up with what is going on with current events, but hearing dependable information once or twice a day from a reliable source is advised. If people you communicate with discuss the situation incessantly and/or have a negative attitude, consider setting a boundary of how much you discuss the topic with them. Think of changing the topic or telling them you want to talk about something else.
- DEVISE A SCHEDULE Create a new schedule/new norm, especially if you have children. Schedules create normalcy and comfort. Keep a daily schedule for your family to follow.
- ALLOW YOUR EMOTIONS Be kind to yourself and be realistic about your anxiety. It’s normal to have anxiety during these times. Acknowledge that it’s ok to feel how you feel. Sometimes it’s good to schedule “worry time” where you are acknowledging all the things you are concerned about. Take 30 minutes a day to attend to your worry. Journal about it, pray over it, cry, etc. If you have worry after that time period, try to push it out of your mind and tell yourself you will think about it during your “worry time” tomorrow.
- USE STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES Find ways to calm and relax. Stay in touch with positive and supportive people in your life. Exercise when you can and eat healthy. Practice yoga, mindfulness, and deep breathing. Get plenty of sleep. Use grounding and centering to get out of your head/worries, and focus on the present moment. Use visualization to help you imagine your favorite memory, vacation place, happy moment, etc.
- STAY CONNECTED WITH OTHERS Use technology, such as facetime or zoom, to stay attached to friends and family.
- HELP OTHERS WHEN YOU CAN Think of ways to help others. Helping other people makes you feel better and gives you some control. Offer to take groceries to your neighbor, make an encouraging call to a friend or loved one; find ways to help your community, encourage those in your lives.
- BE THE EXAMPLE FOR YOUR KIDS AND OTHERS Use this situation as a way to educate and support your children. Remember, kids pick up on the fears and emotions of others. Be encouraging and positive. Let them know what they can do to help. Seek support if you notice excessive worry in your child (e.g., excessive worry or sadness, irritability/acting out, unexplained headaches or pain, difficulty eating or sleeping, etc.).
- STAY POSITIVE Try to focus on the positives. Is there any good coming from your current experience? Maybe spending more time with your kids, having time for your coffee, reading a book, catching up with projects/chores, spending time outdoors. Make a gratitude list to read when your anxiety returns.
- SEEK OUTSIDE SUPPORT Talk to a therapist. Most counselors are offering services over the video monitoring platforms such as Doxy.me or Zoom. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to speak with a professional about ways to cope. If you are having significant depression or suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Also, seek help if you notice significant changes in sleep patterns, weight loss or gain, worsening of chronic health problems, and increasing tobacco, alcohol, or drug usage.
Of course, if you are having trouble with adjusting to this or other situations, please reach out. We are available both by normal in-person discussion, counseling and therapy. We are also using tele-mental health as an option for remote or distance counseling. Please call our office at 770-486-4887 for more information.