Dealing with Anxiety in the Age of Corona: Part II

November 14, 2020

Looking for Part I? Check out my first round of tips here!

With Covid cases on the rise, and coming off the heels of a heated (& still possibly, questionably ongoing?) election, tensions are high and anxiety can rear its ugly head yet again. Some countries are headed back into lockdown as the second wave (or is it third?) washes over the world, and that's scary. 2020 has been a whirlwind of emotions and events, but if there's one thing this year has taught me, it's how to manage stress and anxiety.

So I'm back with another list of helpful tips, activities, and strategies to grab the rest of 2020 by the ____ (I'll let you fill in the blank), pin it to the ground, and say, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" Don't give this year, the media, or the negativity anything else to feed off of. By implementing a few (or all!) of these suggestions, you will be outfitting yourself with some pretty powerful armor that will do wonders for your mental health. So let's jump in!

1.  B e   a n   e m o t i o n a l   m a g i c i a n

I'm not talking pulling a rabbit out of a hat here, but metaphorically, you really can make things appear out of thin air. Easier said than done, but if you really take this theme to heart, you can transmute any type of negativity into something positive. First, approach the situation from an objective point of view and try to find something positive (ex: lockdown sucks but hey - more quality family time!). Perspective really is everything these days. Second, you have to channel your feelings into something. Take that pain, the anxiety, the fear, the stress, the negativity and funnel it into something you love. This could be any hobby you enjoy, like writing, art, cooking, dance, etc. or something as simple as journaling your feelings in a notebook. By giving that negativity an outlet, you're releasing the pent up energy from your body, and you're going to feel so much better.

2.  C l e a n s e   y o u r   s o c i a l   m e d i a

Instagram and Facebook can be toxic. We're constantly bombarded with images of people seemingly living their best lives (remember, Instagram is a highlight reel!), taking vacations, seeing skyrocketing Instagram growth with hoards of followers, or just creating such impressive content that it leaves you feeling inadequate or with a major case of FOMO. Or you may be prone to triggers like body issues or political/socioeconomical content that's pretty much all over the media these days. It's time to do a major sweep of your social accounts. Unfollow anyone that makes you feel "less than." These accounts probably aren't doing this on purpose, but if seeing someone else's curated content leaves you feeling anything other than inspired and happy, its time to cut it out. Fill your feed with whatever truly moves you & will be pivotal to your growth, rather than detrimental. Some of the accounts I love to follow are those that post little daily mantras and enlightened quotes, like @tinybuddhaofficial and @selfcare4yu or Disney accounts like @styledbymagic and @magicandwishes

3.  U s e    a n    a p p

If Covid was inevitably going to happen, I'm glad it happened in the age of technology. There are so many resources available to us, and some of the most powerful ones are literally at our fingertips. I'm not talking about Instagram or other social media apps here though, since those can kind of feed into the narrative of stress. The kind of app you will need to alleviate anxiety involves opening your mind & redirecting your brainpower towards something positive that will help it grow, creating new healthy pathways. 

Some of my favorites are:

  • Brain game apps
    Lumosity and Elevate offer all kinds of different exercises and activities to work different parts of your brain and help you level up your skills in reading, memory, and building vocabulary. These helped me immensely during the height of my anxiety when my thoughts were very hard to control. By channeling my focus on the brain games & tasks at hand, it definitely helped to quiet my thoughts.

  • Meditation/relaxation apps
    Breethe & Calm both offer an extensive library of meditations (check out the "Blissful Bath Meditation" on Breethe! It's legit amazing), bedtime stories (*PRO PARENT TIP: this puts my 3 year old to bed without fail every night), and even hypnotherapy recordings, which have helped me immensely when I had a pretty gnarly 3 week long bout of insomnia.

  • Spiritual apps
    If you're a little woo-woo or spiritual, you might want to download an app that skews more towards the metaphysical, like Joy. Joy is a wonderful app that provides daily guidance and has several tools to help you stay grounded. If you're more into the moon cycles, Luna Solaria will help you track the phases and see the moon in real time. Or if astrology is more your thing, Co-Star and Astrology Zone are great apps for that.

4.  T a l k  ( o r   w r i t e )  i t   o u t

Unloading our feelings is cathartic and therapeutic. Think of your body like a tea kettle. If you leave all that worry and stress pent up inside to boil without having any outlet for the building steam to go, you're probably going to explode at some point. Talking it out can be as easy as chatting with a friend or family member, or doing a serious journaling sesh in a notebook. But if you're really struggling, there are so many mental telehealth businesses out there, like Betterhelp that will actually pair you with a licensed counselor. I've heard it is very affordable, too!

5.  L e a r n   a b o u t   a n x i e t y

Often, what we don't fully understand can be scary. People fear the unknown. By learning about the reasons behind your anxiety, and even just by researching what anxiety is and how it works, some of your symptoms can actually be alleviated. @dearmyanxietyand @doc_amen are great Instagram accounts to follow to learn more about anxiety (& the brain!) and how to manage it. If you're looking for something more tangible, check out some books from the library or grab something off Amazon.

6.  L i f e s t y l e   c h a n g e s

You would be amazed what a little healthy eating, exercise, and incorporating supplements or herbal teas into your routine would do for your mental health. The idea behind it is simple: when our physical bodies are strong and nourished, the mind will follow suit. I personally do yoga every morning, coupled with meditation, and try to be as mindful and conscious as possible of what I'm putting into my body. What I feed it will determine how I feel. When I eat fried food and unhealthy greasy stuff, I feel that. I feel lethargic, slow, and heavy. Obviously, I'm not giving up the occasional burger & fries, but the point is to not make those kinds of unhealthy choices on a daily basis. Especially in the beginning, it's all about baby steps. Get water instead of soda. Try dabbling with a few vegan or vegetarian options. Swap your fries for a vegetable side next time at a restaurant. Grab a chai tea instead of a sugary frappuccino. Those baby-stepped-decisions will compound quickly and you'll be able to feel the results almost instantly.

7.   E s t a b l i s h   a   s t r o n g   b e d t i m e   r o u t i n e

Sleep is without a doubt the most important part of the anxiety puzzle. If you're not getting good sleep, everything else will suffer: your body won't have enough energy to fuel your day, your mind will race with negative thoughts, and your health will take a nosedive, fast. It's so easy to say, "Oh, just get more sleep!" but you can't just magically start going to bed at 9pm every night if you're used to staying up, mindlessly scrolling on your phone until 2am. You actually have to retrain your body to adhere to a new routine. So if you're a night owl and want to be that person that jumps out of bed at 5:30am to hit the yoga mat (hi!), you've got to start by pushing up your bedtime. Put your phone on nighttime mode so it switches to warmer tones by about 9:00pm and wear blue light glasses if you're going to still indulge in a little screen time. I suggest no screens at least an hour before your target bed time, and just put the phone up. 

Start your routine and go through the motions early of washing your face, brushing your teeth, etc. and then climb into bed with a good book. Each night, move your bedtime up a little bit more until you've reached your ideal time (as I've adjusted, I can now only make it about 15-20 minutes into a book before I'm conked out for the night). But the other piece of this puzzle here is to stick to the same wakeup time each day, even if you're not falling asleep until late. By repeatedly waking up at the same time each morning, your brain and body adjust and will fall into a rhythm of winding down at the same time each night. Eventually, you won't even be tired in the morning or feel the need to hit snooze 25 times!

8.  S e e   a   c h i r o p r a c t o r

I'm such a huge advocate of chiropractic care. I can't even begin to explain the magical results I've seen personally along my own chiropractic journey (& it's only been 2 months)! Some people are scared of chiropractors, thinking they will mess up the spine or somehow end up causing harm rather than healing. To those naysayers, I say: do your research! Chiropractors are highly educated and must undergo a lot of training and certifications. Not all chiropractors implement the same techniques, either. Some may opt for the manual method of physically twisting and realigning your body by pushing on bones and using physical pressure to make your spine move. Others, like mine, go for a gentler approach with a special tool called an activator, which applies a small amount of pressure to realign the spine in certain areas.

Did you know chiropractic care can actually help with things like insomnia, headaches, and anxiety? I had no idea! I always thought chiropractors were solely for people with back or neck problems, and while they do primarily treat those issues, chiropractic care can be beneficial to a whole range of symptoms (including pregnancy pain & digestive issues)! If you're suffering from anxiety, you might want to schedule a consultation to see if subluxation (misalignments in the spine) may be contributing to your symptoms. If you're in the Chattanooga area, I recommend Skyline Chiropractic!

9.  G r o u n d   y o u r s e l f

What is grounding & why do you need it? Well, grounding is a technique that involves doing activities to "ground" or energetically/electrically reconnect you to the earth. There's actual science behind it that explains how electrical charges from the earth can positively impact your body. While there isn't a ton of research on the subject, many people have reported that grounding has has positively impacted issues like chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. By simply walking barefoot on the ground (like through the grass or on the sand at the beach), you're providing your body with this grounding energy. Even simply being outside in nature can provide these benefits. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, swim in a river or lake, go to the beach, or hike to a beautiful mountain overlook. Simply put, it gets you out of your head & into your body, and puts things back into perspective.

10.  G r a t i t u d e

Gratitude is such a simple concept and one of the easiest practices you can adopt into your life. When you sprinkle gratitude over every single day, you will see magical results. Gratitude changes the negative bias to a grateful, blessed, and positive one. When you can start to see the positive in even the most seemingly negative of situations, you can retrain your brain over time. By continually focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don't, your entire outlook and mindset shifts. Perspective is everything these days, and if you can find the lesson in stressful situations and still feel blessed for what you have, your life will change. To get started, I suggest a gratitude journal (this is the one I use) or reading the book The Magic by Rhonda Byrne. Gratitude journaling is a powerful and simple practice that takes just a couple minutes each day. 

I hope that some of these tips & suggestions have resonated with you! Definitely keep an open mind and try some of them. If one doesn't work out, move on to the next. 

Wishing you & peace & blessings!

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