The best way to manage ourselves during a pandemic isn’t to try and avoid our feelings; it’s to try and transform our relationship with anxiety. Anxiety is totally uncomfortable, and it’s hard to accept or embrace it. But if we can see it as a signal from our bodies and brains that’s alerting us to a threat, maybe we can tolerate it a little better.
I know we’re all dealing with a lot right now, and the last thing we want to do is work on new ways to deal with our anxious feelings and symptoms. But if not now, when?
Below are 8 techniques for reducing anxiety right now:
1. Pay attention.
As easy as it may sound, it’s difficult to slow down and notice our surroundings, especially when we have a lot on our minds. Make a conscious effort to experience the world around you with all 5 senses—touch, hear, see, smell, and taste your surroundings. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste, and truly enjoy it.
Looking to know more about reducing anxiety and stress in the current situation? Read 4 Strategies That Will Make Coping With Coronavirus Stress Easier
2. Live in the moment.
Be open, accepting, and intentional about everything you do at the moment.
3. Accept yourself.
We often don’t treat ourselves with the compassion we easily give to others. Practice treating yourself the same way you would a close friend, a child, or a loving pet.
4. Focus on your breathing.
When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
5. Body scan meditation.
Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions, or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
6. Sitting meditation.
Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
7. Walking meditation.
Find a quiet place, and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.
8. Find a way to feel safe.
When we’re particularly anxious or in the midst of a panic attack, it’s also important to find ways to feel safe. I understand that we don’t feel so safe right now and that there are potential threats in our environment.
However, we can still find a way to live in the world with confidence in ourselves. It’s our perceptions and mindset that ultimately make the difference between feeling safe and unsafe. Realizing that you are your own safety net can help you feel at home wherever you go. If anything does happen, you know you can handle it.
It’s finding a way to observe and accept your anxiety that will allow you to start making some real, meaningful, and lasting changes in your response to it. I encourage you to use some of the techniques I’ve shared to quiet your mind and dig deeper into finding your own sense of calm. When you begin to lean into your anxiety, you can observe and address it in a way that reduces it.
Learn more about Dr. Ilene’s best-selling self-help books here, https://www.amazon.com/Ilene-Cohen/e/B0764L1MRC
Written By Ilene S. Cohen