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ANXIETY AND COVID-19

Anxiety in these uncertian times of COVID-19

Feeling more anxious that usual? Having trouble sleeping or more frequent dreams or nightmares? Maybe your experiencing more frequent headaches or upset stomach?

All of these are common reports we’re hearing from clients and colleagues alike. Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, from panic attacks to insomnia to physical discomfort, but most of us are feeling some signs of increased anxiety as we navigate this pandemic and economic crisis.

So what can we do to help reduce this anxiety and the unpleasant symptoms it’s causing? Here are some suggestions to start implementing today:

COVID-19

BREATHE

Spend 10 minutes in the morning, before starting your day to meditate. Meditation is a well known and proven way to reduce anxiety symptoms. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions to get your started:

  • Download an app like CALM or Headspace for guided meditations in a convenient format
  • Prefer not to use technology? Try a simple Ayurvedic breathing meditation based on the rule of 7.
    • Sit or lay in a comfortable position
    • Breath in slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of 7
    • Hold the breath deep in your belly for 7 seconds
    • Breath out slowly, through your nose, for 7 seconds
    • Repeat this cycle 7 times

DO IT AGAIN

Repeat any of these meditations through out your day and before bed for an increased sense of wellbeing and a solid boost to your immune system.

WALK

Go for a walk outside if you can. Make an evening walk part of your routine and let this activity signal the end of your work day and beginning of your evening.

MOVE

If you are sitting down for any prolonged period of time, working or watching TV for example, it is very important to get up and stretch and walk around for a minute or two every hour. Set an alarm on your phone or watch and remind yourself to get up at the top of each hour. This is a really effective way to support your blood sugar regulation and reduce the feeling of nagging anxiety throughout the day.

CONNECT

Call or Facetime with a friend or family member. Set up a Zoom meeting with some friends you haven’t seen in weeks or write a good old-fashioned letter to someone and put in the mail. We are all feeling some degree of disconnection and social isolation during this time and being intentional about connecting can bolster your mood and improve your wellbeing. Also, it’s a good idea to set aside certain times a day to meaningfully connect with those you live with, if you don’t live alone. We are occupying the same space as those we live with and it’s easy to confuse physical proximity with meaningful connection. Set aside time to have dinner with your roommate or spouse a few nights a week and sit at the table and talk. If you live with a romantic partner, set up a “date night” at home and take time to listen to one another while you eat dinner by candlelight and take an evening stroll outside.

SCHEDULE

Maintain a routine to improve your mental health and decrease anxiety. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night and wake up around the same time each morning. Eat meals at regular times and exercise daily around the same time. These seemingly small routines have a huge impact on our circadian rhythms, the internal clock that affects all of our bodily functions including sleep, metabolism, energy levels, immune system regulation, and mental health.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep in a cool, dark room, stop looking a screens 2 hours prior to bedtime, go to bed at the same time, have a hot cup of herbal tea or a glass of lemon water if you have time winding down.
  • Take 1000-5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 every morning and 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime to support your natural circadian rhythm. This is especially important if you are not getting the normal amount of sunlight exposure you’re used to. Always speak with your health care provider before starting supplements like these but they are generally safe for most people.

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Don’t try to be a super worker right now. We’ve heard from lots of our clients that they feel thankful for a job that allows them to work from home or still go into work, but they also feel very overwhelmed with their workload. Tasks that once took a few minutes to complete in office are taking some of us half a day, just to set up the scanner, connect to our home network and figure out how to install the whole thing. Essential workers who are still showing up to work are anxious about exposures and often times trying to cover for multiple colleagues who are out for the day or the week. Be patient and kind with yourself. Maybe you aren’t working for a company but are working tirelessly day in and out to clean your home, make nutritious meals three times a day for your family and organize epic play dates via Zoom for your kids. May we all lower our expectations during these uncertain times and then, for good measure, go ahead and lower them a little further. We are surviving this and our expectations to thrive are making us more stressed out and less effective at staying safe and healthy.

Above all, remember that these are uncharted waters for many of us. The way you feel during this time will likely change from day to day and week to week. It is okay to have strong emotions and to sit with them and remind yourself that you are safe and that your feelings are normal. When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, remember these tips, use one of them or a few, and see if you feel better. No one thing works for everyone so, keep trying different things until you find what works for you. You are not alone. Please reach out to us if you find your anxiety is too overwhelming and we will help you get back to a place of greater peace and wellbeing.

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