Covid-19 is still lingering but for many, it’s time to return to work and school. Not surprisingly, returning to semi-normal life in the midst of a pandemic can cause some anxiety. What if you or your child get sick? How do you manage to stay healthy around groups of people? What happens next?
These questions and this anxiety are perfectly normal responses to the ways Covid-19 has changed the world. But there are ways you can (and should!) manage your (and your family’s) anxieties so they don’t overtake you and become something bigger. (Ways that don’t include taking anxiety medicine!)
The very first thing you should do? Recognize that your fears are valid. It’s a scary time and it’s okay to have worries. Recognizing your fears are valid will enable you to face them.
Next, remember the 4 W’s: wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance (aka the 6 ft rule), and walk away (don’t stay in large groups of people for very long). If you’re careful and follow the 4 W’s, you decrease your risk of getting ill. Just don’t obsess over these – it’ll increase your anxiety.
Plan ahead. If you’re going to work or school, plan ways to stay safe. Carry hand sanitizer, make sure you have a mask before you leave the house, and decide how you’ll interact with co-workers. Anticipate common scenarios and figure out what you’ll do in those situations before they happen. Making a plan is an easy way to decrease your anxiety!
OKAY, THAT’S GREAT BUT I’M STILL ANXIOUS!
Those steps alone may not completely alleviate your anxieties (and that’s fine!). Sometimes it takes a few more tricks to stay unstressed. Pick one (or all) of the following and watch your stress diminish.
- Meditation– Taking time to meditate comes with health benefits! Did you know that by simply sitting still and focusing on what’s around you, you’ll experience an immediate anxiolytic effect (aka your anxiety will decrease)? In fact, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression after only 8 weeks! Another bonus? Meditation allows you to have a sense of control, something that may be lacking right now. Need help getting started? Check out the Headspace app which includes guided meditations, articles, and more.
- Journaling– Journaling is another great way to practice mindfulness and comes with a plethora of benefits including boosting your mood, enhancing your sense of well-being, improving your working memory, and reducing symptoms of depression. For starters, try making a daily list of everything that is going well and bringing you happiness. All you need to get started is a notebook and pen!
- Breathing Exercises– When we get anxious we tend to breathe from the chest instead of the diaphragm. Doing this can cause an imbalance in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in our body resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, and more. Hence, an anxiety attack. When you feel yourself starting to feel anxious, try a few breathing exercises to ward off the anxiety turning into an actual attack. This article has 8 exercises you can try.
- Essential Oils– You might just think of essential oils as another way to make your home smell great, but they’re actually beneficial in reducing anxiety. What scent you prefer is up to you but lavender, chamomile, basil, and frankincense are generally the oils used to help reduce anxiety. There are a few different ways you can use oils – adding a few drops to a bath, inhaling them by putting a few drops on a cotton ball, using a diffuser, or, of course, using oils during massage (just be sure to dilute using a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond first!). If you want to learn more about essential oil use, this article is a great starting point.
- Getting the Right Nutrients – You already know how important your diet is to feeling well but consuming the right nutrients can do more than just keep your body healthy – the right nutrients can help lower anxiety. To start though, there are things you should avoid that can make anxiety worse – like caffeine, refined sugars, and saturated fats. The things that can make you feel better include B12, B6, omega-3 fatty acids, D3, probiotics, GABA, and amino acids such as 5HTP. You can get most of these via food, but sometimes you might need a little help which is where supplements come in. Get the full story on supplements in my blog HERE.
- Practicing Gratitude – Did you know practicing gratitude can improve your physical AND mental health? Studies show that practicing gratitude can counteract depression, make people happier, it can improve relationships, and even have positive results on physical health. Pretty powerful stuff! And it’s so easy to do. You can keep a gratitude journal where you write down 3 (or more!) things you’re grateful for each day. You can thank someone. You can also practice gratitude via meditation or praying. It only takes a few minutes each day and it’s FREE. Take a more in-depth look at practicing gratitude with my blog HERE!
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Remember, your anxiety is valid and there are natural ways to manage it. Following just a few simple steps you can be more confident in returning to work or school, despite Covid-19. Try out one (or all) of the anxiety decreasing tips above and if you need personalized help, set up a time to meet with me!