Right now we are living through a global anxiety pandemic. This situational anxiety is the result of the COVID19 global pandemic. If you haven’t already, now is the time to look to mental health experts and to people with lived experiences in recovery from anxiety. These people are heroes, too.
In my family, we are survivors of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. The good news is that each one of us can take proactive steps to slow the spread of the global anxiety pandemic. Even if you aren’t feeling symptoms now, taking these steps will improve your resilience and positively impact your health.
Here are five easy and healthy ways to manage symptoms of anxiety that my household finds helpful:
1) Get plenty of sleep. Take naps, more than one nap a day is okay. Nap on the couch, in bed, in the chair, or on the floor. Sleep helps the brain recover and reset.
2) Drink lots of water. Mental health is physical health. We need water to help keep our bodies clean on the inside.
3) Move your body. Anxiety is physical. It lives not just in your head, but throughout your whole body. Some people feel it in their shoulders and neck, some in their abdomen. Moving our bodies unlocks anxiety’s grip on us. Tell anxiety to take a hike! Simple movements help to relax muscles and empowers your system to overcome the “fight or flight” reflex. Stretching, walking, yoga, choose what feels best to you.
4) Express your feelings. Keep a journal, talk to a friend or loved one. Talk to a counselor or therapist. Anxiety often stretches the truth. We need the perspective of other people in order to find balance. Instead of black or white, realities are often shades of gray. Sorting through repetitive anxious thoughts and releasing them helps to free yourself from their power.
5) Embrace the now. Anxiety is often triggered by fear of dynamics in the future. You have the power to focus on the here and now. Deep breathing practices can help us be present in the moment. Make it a daily practice to pause throughout your day to take three slow deep breaths.
Did you notice how much of managing anxiety relates to our physical bodies? This is good news because it means that how we choose to use our bodies impacts our mental health. We can each choose to treat our bodies with compassion, kindness, gentleness and love. We can also slow the spread of the global anxiety pandemic, one mind and one body at a time. It starts with you.
Mental Health Resources: •National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) http://www.nami.org, •National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml, •United Church of Christ Mental Health Network (UCCMHN) http://mhn-ucc.blogspot.com/?m=1, •Suicide Crisis Hotline: 800-273-8255