Anxiety affects most of us from time to time, but right now, many people are experiencing more anxiety than normal. As we're finding our way through the first global pandemic most of us have ever experienced, there aren't a lot of answers or guarantees, which can make anxiety worse than usual. Many of us have kids at home, or have stepchildren that we're not allowed to see because of the quarantine. We have no idea how long this will last and how it will affect us or those we love.
Anxiety can be predictable or it can be a surprise. You can think you're doing well, then all of a sudden everything changes and you feel like you can't breathe, can't stop thinking, can't do enough to change things. For this reason, it's really helpful to use both prevention and intervention strategies, which will help to reduce your anxiety.
Tips for Relieving Feelings of Anxiety:
1. Go outside
Even though Utah (and much of the world) is in a Stay Home, Stay Safe quarantine right now, you can still get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Sunshine helps our bodies change cholesterol to Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps decrease symptoms of anxiety, strengthen your bones, and helps build your immune system. As long as you're social distancing, getting outside can be really helpful with anxiety.
Although we're prohibited from actually being with others, technology has made it possible for us to interact with them. You can call friends, or if you need to see them, you can meet online through a variety of platforms (Facebook calls, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and Google Meet are a few). I'm using Google Meet to do my sessions with students while they're doing online school, and almost all of them report they like it because they get to see some of their friends. Humans are social creatures, and we need interaction to help us.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being fully present in the current moment, being aware of what's happening within and around you, and not judging any of it. Mindfulness is not the same thing as meditation, which is good news for people who have difficulty meditating. You can mindfully do any activity: sewing, reading, walking, eating, dancing, cooking, playing games, etc. All mindfulness requires is noticing where your attention is, then gently shifting it back to the present without judgment.
4. Eat Well
Scientists have discovered and are continuing to research what's called the gut-brain axis, which links the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system. This two-way communication allows our brain and digestive system to influence each other, and having a unhealthy gut biome has been linked to higher levels of anxiety. Diet and probiotics are two factors that can help increase a healthy gut biome.
5. Have Fun!
Having fun and laughing lowers cortisol (a stress hormone) while increasing serotonin (a hormone that helps our mood). Having fun can lead to better problem solving and creativity. Here are some fun things to do during quarantine:
Mad Libs: Online Game
Dance party: Clean Dance Party Playlist Spotify
Watch: Funny Animal Videos
Sara Susov: Step Up Parenting
Photo 1: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash