11 tips for managing your anxiety during coronavirus from a therapist – Business Insider
1. Create a schedule
Your daily routine might be disrupted in a number of ways. Whether you’re working from home, or can’t go to the gym, the lack of structure in the face of uncertainty can cause you to feel even more anxious.
Every night, sit down and create a schedule for the following day. Identify what you can do during each hour of the day — including things like exercise, cooking meals, reaching out to friends and family, cleaning the house, and working. Incorporate healthy activities into your day, and try to keep a similar daily routine in the process.
With so many gyms closed and warnings to practice social distancing, it may be harder to find time and space to work out. But physical activity can greatly reduce anxiety.
And while any type of exercise might help you feel better, some studies have found that strength training is especially effective in reducing anxiety.
If you’ve got some dumbbells, use them. If not, use your bodyweight or some resistance bands. Doing so can build both your physical and mental muscles.
Take a minute to check in with yourself several times each day. How are you feeling? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Sad? Confused? Whatever you’re feeling is OK. Acknowledging rather than fighting your feelings can help you move forward.
6. Balance your emotions with logic
It’s normal to experience intense feelings right now. And these emotions lead to a lot of unhelpful and even catastrophic thoughts that can fuel your anxiety.
So it’s important to balance out emotions with logic. Take a look at the facts. And when you start thinking the world is ending or you can’t get through this, remind yourself that pandemics end, economies rebound, and people survive.
7. Argue the opposite
When you find yourself thinking things like, “The coronavirus is going to wipe out my business,” or, “I’m never going to get through this,” then argue the opposite.
Remind yourself that there’s also a chance things will turn out better in the end or that you’re going to emerge from this stronger than ever. The goal of arguing the opposite isn’t to convince yourself that everything is perfect or that amazing things are definitely going to happen.
Instead, it’s about helping you see that your catastrophic predictions aren’t destined to happen. There’s a chance that things might go well or turn out better than you’re imagining. Develop a more realistic middle-ground outlook, rather than a doom and gloom sort of stance, so you can start to feel better.
8. Maintain social support
Fortunately, our electronic devices allow us to stay easily connected even while we’re social distancing. And while video chatting doesn’t provide all the same emotional benefits of face-to-face contact, electronic means of communication do allow you to maintain social support.
If you don’t have close friends or family members to reach out to during this time, find people you can talk to. Look for forums, social media groups, or others who want to connect. Talking to other people about what you’re going through can reduce your anxiety. Just make sure you’re talking about strategies that help you feel better and not making catastrophic predictions that fuel your anxiety.
9. Focus on the things you can control
The more you focus on things you can’t control — like how much the coronavirus is spreading or business closings that will affect your day-to-day life — the more anxious you’ll feel.
So focus on things you can control, like steps you can take to keep yourself safe, how you’ll spend your time, and how you’ll manage your money. Gaining a sense of control over something can help you gain inner peace.
10. Externalize your anxiety
Narrative therapy is a common form of treatment that is a simple but effective way to get some fast relief. It involves externalizing your anxiety so you can recognize how it affects you and how you can fight it.
Rather than say, “I’m feeling awful,” remind yourself, “Anxiety tries to make me feel awful.” Acknowledge how your anxiety causes you to think things that aren’t true like, “Anxiety tries to convince me I can’t handle one more thing going wrong!” Recognize how it tries to get you to behave in a way that keeps you stuck in a perpetual state of anxiety such as, “Anxiety tries to make me pace in circles rather than get something productive done.”
Viewing anxiety as an external force can help you find ways to combat it. You may decide you can best fight anxiety with sleep and exercise. Or you might decide anxiety doesn’t like it when you practice yoga. You can even turn it into a game of sorts where you practice different strategies to learn what helps you best fight off the anxiety.
11. Schedule time to worry
It sounds ridiculous on the surface. If you worry a lot, why on earth would you schedule time to worry? Well, researchers have found that scheduling time to worry is a great way to limit the amount of time you spend ruminating and making catastrophic predictions.
Set aside a certain timeframe to worry, and put it in your schedule. Perhaps you decide to worry from 7:00 to 7:15 p.m. every day. If you catch yourself worrying outside of this time frame, then remind yourself that it’s not time to worry right now.
Then, when your worrying time hits, sit down and worry as much as you can during this timeframe. When the time is up, move onto something else. With practice, you’ll likely find it’s an effective way to keep your worries contained.
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