In a perfect world, our anxiety would only help to warn us in the face of danger, saving us from risk. However, more often than not, our anxiety only serves to cripple us and jeopardize our health. With the fear and worry plaguing us during these uncertain times, it’s clear that our levels of anxiety are more than likely to skyrocket in the coming weeks and months.
With the implementation of plans to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and prevent future contractions, it’s safe to assume that many of us will spend the next few weeks in a form of self-isolation in the comfort of our own homes. Now while this is meant for our own good, we’re all plagued by fears when it comes to the coronavirus, and those fears are likely to be heightened as we confine ourselves to our homes as we may begin to feel helpless and out of control.
Now while you shouldn’t feel ashamed about your anxiety, in fact, it’s better to acknowledge it, it should be noted that you can place your health at risk if your anxiety reaches a debilitating level. So, if you’re planning on spending the next few weeks in isolation but are worried about the impact on your mental health, below are tips that will not only help to ease your anxiety but may even help provide you with a new perspective on things.
Tips to ease coronavirus anxiety at home
1. Listening to music
You’d be surprised how your favorite song can help you alleviate some cabin-fever induced anxiety.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, music listening induces stress-relief, having a very calming effect on your body and mind.
If your favorite songs are a little too fast-paced for you, you can try listening to classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music as they have been found to be the most calming (1).
2. Take a (deep) breath
There are different forms of deep breathing exercises, but the most notable is diaphragmatic breathing.
This form of breathing involves pushing the stomach out while inhaling.
According to a study published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, diaphragmatic breathing helped to relax the body to the point where cortisol (the stress hormone) levels had lowered.
Another breathing exercise you can try is the four square breathing technique. Simply breathe in slowly to a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of four. Afterward, exhale slowly through pursed lips to a count of four. Following this, you should then rest for a count of four (without taking any breaths), before taking two normal breaths. Once done, start from the beginning.
It would be advisable to do this throughout the day, especially if you find yourself spending too much time on social media or working from home becomes too stressful. Speaking of which, that brings us to our next point.
3. Monitor your media intake
The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic, so of course, it’s important that you stay abreast with all the latest news. However, there’s a difference between staying informed, and obsessing over fact and tidbit that makes its way through social media. In fact, the latter will only serve to misinform you and increase your anxiety.
In fact, a study published in the journal Science Advances found that people can become more emotionally responsive to news reports of natural disasters or terrorist events, which then increases their anxiety and concerns about future occurrences.
Now we’re in no way suggesting that you should stick your head in the sand, as it’s important to know what’s going on in the world. However, you should try not to get sucked into the sensationalized news that makes its way through your timeline. Rather, once or twice a day, get your information and updates from reputable websites like the CDC or the WHO.
Also, if you feel that the news you receive adds to your anxiety, practice breathing exercises, read a book or play some relaxing music.
4. Chew gum
If you have a stick of gum lying around the house, or in your bag, you may want to chew on it as you check the news for the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus. This is because chewing gum has been found to reduce stress.
In fact, research published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Research found that chewing gum not only improved mood, but also reduced anxiety and even symptoms of depression.
5. Write down your feelings
The world’s leading medical authority has declared a global pandemic and various countries have implemented shutdowns in all spheres of life. Suffice to say, you most likely have a lot of feelings about this so perhaps you should write them down?
We all experience negative thoughts and feelings now and then but these thoughts can soon become toxic, especially if we continue to mull over them. However, recording these thoughts can help us to better process them. In fact, a study published in the Acta bio-medica: Atenei Parmensis journal found that writing helped to reduce both physical and psychological symptoms.
So, put aside some time before bed every day and grab a journal and write out your thoughts. In fact, don’t just write about your fears and concerns. Go further by jotting down what you’re grateful for, as practicing gratitude can help to ease some of your anxiety.
6. Practice yoga
Yoga boasts a number of health benefits for individuals who practice it, and one of them includes inducing a calming effect.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Yoga, practicing yoga can help to reduce stress, lower anxiety and even improve depression symptoms.
Now chances are all yoga classes in your neighborhood have been cancelled but there are a number of freely available yoga videos online, as well as apps that will help you find your center and relieve your stress and anxiety.
In addition to yoga, practicing meditation can also help to alleviate any anxiety and stressed out emotions.
Meditation apps such as Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm can help you combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking, and provide you with a more positive outlook on the current situation.
8. Stick to your regular sleep routine
Now with you working from home, your sleep routine may be going through some changes but it’s important that you stick to your regular sleep routine. Anxiety can affect your sleep schedule so it’s important that you do your best to keep your sleep routine as consistent as possible.
Not doing so will definitely amplify your anxiety levels and sleep deprivation and high anxiety levels are the worst things you could do to your health.
Do your best to get at least 7 hours of sleep as this will help increase your ability to deal with stress and anxiety during the day.
9. Watch your diet – cut back on caffeine, sugar, and processed foods
As you’re spending more time at home. your diet may be taking a hit as you begin reaching for caffeine, sugar and processed snacks. That said, it’s important that these foods may boost your anxiety.
So, instead of reaching for the sugary stuff, and drinking more glasses of wine than usual, rather consume a healthy, green-rich diet as this will help you keep focused throughout the day and keep your mood at an even level.
Exercise is the best thing you can do to combat your stress (and it can also help to strengthen your immune system). With most gyms closed down, you may find it harder to stay fit but there are ways you can keep fit in the comfort of your own home.
11. Laugh more
It may be hard to do during this time, but you should definitely be laughing more at home. This is because laughing can not only improve your immune system, but it can also relieve stress and tension in your muscles.
Try watching your favorite TV show, or calling up an old friend and having a good laugh.
12. Keep in touch with family and friends
Just because you may be asked to self-quarantine in the following weeks, doesn’t mean that you should completely isolate yourself. Yes, you may not be able to physically interact with your friends and family, but you should be doing your best to talk with your loved ones, friends, and even colleagues.
Doing so will definitely help to ease both your fears and it will also help remind you that you are not alone and whatever the new normal becomes, we will adjust and move on.
Want to know more?
Our immune system is the most important system in the body, especially during these times. That said, a lot of us may be adopting habits that are harming, rather than helping it. If you’re guilty of these 11 habits that are harming your immune system, then you may need to stop them and stock up on some vitamin C.
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