Fear is a normal, necessary evolutionary response to threat – ultimately designed to keep us safe. When we identify a new fear, our bodies provide us a biological response to that fear flooding us with adrenaline to make sure that we are able to escape or defeat an oncoming threat. This response produces a range of intense physical symptoms—heart palpitations, perspiration, dizziness and shortness of breath—which help us run faster and fight harder, when there is a need. In the case of COVID-19, you may also find yourself constantly monitoring updates and discussing worst-case scenarios with others, which significantly increases worry and physical symptoms. The good news is there are ways to decrease the unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms associated with anxiety.
Six tips to help decrease your feelings of anxiety
Allow yourself to stop looking for signs and symptoms of illness. If we are constantly checking our physical state, we are likely to find unpleasant or unfamiliar physical sensations that make us feel anxious but are harmless.
Take a News Break. Consider turning off the TV, taking a break from the news for an afternoon, engaging in a hobby you enjoy or discussing a topic of interest with a friend. Prioritize your mental health, so that you will be able to engage with the issue when needed in a calm and reasoned way.
Check reliable, impartial sources of information for updates on COVID-19. This might include national health websites or one news program per day rather than alarmist news or social media feeds that exacerbate worry.
Take deep breaths. Purposeful, regular breathing can reduce the fight or flight response, prevent the onset of panic, and the unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety. Taking 5 slow deep breaths can make a big impact in how you are able to handle a situation.
Exercise. Exercise helps reduce the excess adrenaline build-up associated with anxiety. You don’t have to engage in vigorous exercise to gain a benefit. Take a walk outside on the grounds, do some gentle stretching in your apartment or go for a swim. Also watch the exercise workouts provided on the Westminster channel.
Connect. Personal relationships are crucial in maintaining perspective, elevating mood and allowing distraction away from thoughts that trouble us. Even as you distance yourself from others for safety, it is still vital to combat loneliness and keep interacting with others via phone, letter or video chats.
Continue normal daily activities as much as possible; maintaining perspective and reducing unnecessary stress are vital for maintaining balance. Look for moments of joy, connect to those you care about, keep calm, take a break from the news, and breathe deep.
If you continue to feel anxious or distressed despite trying these techniques, contact us.