Anxiety is an exhausting, relentless mental health problem that plagues around 40 million adults in the U.S. alone.
It’s difficult to live with and manage, having the ability to hinder your quality of life, sense of self and independence. It also has very real physical side-effects, and implications, often manifesting as fatigue, aches, and lowered immunity.
What’s causing anxiety, especially right now?
Anxiety takes on different forms, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (PD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and many more, including various phobias.
Triggers also vary from person to person, with certain situations heightening the feeling. Currently, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and across the world, people have been ordered to stay at home.
There is insecurity about jobs and futures, disruption of routine, and difficulty in accessing things that help; there is worry about money and health, there is agitation from being at home. It’s a boiling pot of factors and feelings.
What you’re feeling is not unusual or alien, and while stress is a very real part of life, our minds and bodies are under an unreal amount at the moment. It’s also collective stress that we’re consuming through media, friends, and family and general concerns.
We’re still struggling to define our new normal, and this might look very different for each of us: from losing a loved one, to losing a job, battling health problems or the panic in the wake of this crisis, it’s a lot to take in.
Practicing self-care in these trying times
One of the most effective ways to manage your anxiety is through a self-care regimen.
No, this doesn’t mean you need to put on a face pack or do your hair every day or sip on homemade margaritas and binge Netflix shows. Even if that is the perfect self-care routine for you, it’s not consistent.
What you need is a realistic, sustainable, and honest approach to improving your mental health. One that isn’t taxing or tolling, making you feel worse.
Work on building a routine for yourself
A routine can help mitigate the sense of uncertainty you’re feeling. Even if you’re not working or going to school at the moment, endless late nights and waking up at odd hours can take a toll on you. It doesn’t need to be stringent; you can be relaxed with it, but keep it as close to normal as possible.
Wake up at 10 a.m. if not 8 a.m.—just don’t start your day at 3 p.m. all week long!
Take care of your body and mind.
However, it’s important to go easy on yourself. Feelings unproductive, stress, and anxiety can be too much to take on.
Focus on breathing, meditating, practicing selective focus, and avoiding things that make you anxious. This could mean updates on the news and focusing on positive information and affirmations.
Keep busy and partake in activities that will help you channel your anxiety in a calming way, for instance, painting or baking or gardening.
Your body also requires rest, so work on your sleep schedule, get in lots of physical activity and exercise, hydrate and nourish and lay off the alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.
Connect with loved ones
Physical distance doesn’t need to mean emotional distance, especially in a time when technology has enabled and empowered us. Chat with your loved ones, video call them, speak on the phone and let them know you’re there for them. Reaffirmed feelings of affection go a long way.
It’s difficult to manage all this on your own, even on a regular day. There’s no shame in seeking help. I’m a licensed mental health counselor offering therapy for anxiety in the form of treatment and anxiety counseling in Palo Alto and the Bay Area.
Contact me to learn more about how my services can be of use to you, especially through these difficult times. You can also book a free initial 20 minute session.