How to Reduce Your Anxiety and Stress During COVID-19 Panic

The world is in a state of panic and prevention with the Coronavirus spreading internationally. Pretty much every person around the world is being influenced by this and more than ever we can feel our interconnectedness.

What has spread faster than the COVID-19 is the anxiety and stress. There is a level of uncertainty and fear that is hanging in the air and we can all feel it.

Schools are closing, borders shutting down, events canceled, and the produce is flying off the shelves. Don’t even try to go out to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Im definitely investing in a bidet.

Everyone is getting ready for the unknown and possible full quarantine. With people unsure if they will be able to get home from abroad, tickets refunded, and whether or not they will be working people are in a state of shock and stress. Some may be trying to avoid the seriousness of the situation, but this does not mean we all do not feel the anxiety and tension in the air.

There are a couple of ways one can perceive and process this event. Some are healthier than others. Increasing your stress and panic is not one of the healthier ways. Here are some things to consider and focus on that may help you move through this state of emergency.

Respect The Situation

Although you may think that the world is blowing this out of proportion and there are indeed other threats that are much more deadly than this, we need to respect the situation. You may not agree with how the world is handling it, but we need to all do our part to protect those who may be at risk around us. As we can see from Italy no one’s health care system can handle the stress it will put on it if those who are vulnerable get infected. I worry about my grandparents and friends who have a weakened immune system.

Wash your hands, give people distance, and stay at home as much as you can. It is still encouraged to get our in nature and get some sunlight and fresh air. . Although those that are young may not be as suspectable to the full force of this virus you could carry it and pass it on to others. If you are sick with just the cold or flu also stay home as to not risk lowering other people’s immune systems.

Buy the food that you need to last you 2 weeks at home. Do not hoard food or items out of fear as this has a negative impact on everyone around and your own mental health. Hoarding is never good for you. Be reasonable with your shopping and try to get it all done in a shop or two, so you do not have to keep going back. You can even order things online to limit your exposure.

I know this has been repeated a million times but make you sure you are washing your hands and trying to not touch your face. Also, you should be wiping down your phone as it can carry germs too.

Reduce Stress

Do activities to help you reduce your stress. Exercise, meditation, mindfulness, Netflix binge, read a book, bubble baths, soak your feet, gratitude journal, yoga, deep breaths.

When we have an increase in stress we lower our immune system which is not what we want to do right now so make relaxing activities a priority. It may feel counter intuitive but it is the best thing you can do for yourself and the world.

I know that many of the fitness and yoga facilities have been closed but you can still do this at home. Remember that “motion moves emotions”. If you feel anxious or depressed get moving. You can put on a YouTube 15-minute hit or yoga video to help move that extra energy out of your body. You can go for a walk or run outside. Many of the yoga studios are offering classes online. If you have never done this before now, it’s a great time to start!

Practice mindfulness, the practice of being present without judgment. You can notice your worries and fear without having to become them, without them consuming you. Offer yourself a safe space to feel, hold yourself with compassion and reassure yourself everything will be okay, because it will be. Bring yourself back to noticing everything that is working well, as more is always working well then not. You control what you focus on.

Safe space meditation. Make a list of all the things that make you feel safe, strong, centered, connected. It can be people, memories, places, moments, people (imagined and real). Make a list of everything that makes you feel strong and centered. Take a couple of moments and rest in these memories and in these resources. Notice how when you sit with your eyes closed and bring yourself to those places your body changes. Notice the sensations tingling or lightness that may spread through your body. Each day consciously bring yourself to these resources allow your nervous system to link into these experiences to strengthen yourself and help to reduce stress.

Deep Belly Breaths: Place your hand on your stomach and slowly fill your stomach up all the way from the bottom four the count of 4. Notice how your belly rises and then your chest. Then pause at the top and slowly exhale all your air for the count of 5, feel your belly fall as your air leaves your chest, lungs, and belly. Then repeat this 5-10 times. This will help to move your nervous system out of “fight or flight” and into “rest and digest”. We can consciously control our breath which is linked to our nervous system and can help you relax. Consciously bringing your nervous system down will build resilience in the body and mind. When we have anxiety, we breathe from our chest, notice this and start to breathe from the bottom of your belly. 

Surrender Your Fear

Believing in something larger than yourself can be helpful at this time. We cannot control this situation and worry and stressing about it will only make it worse, not better. See if you can practice surrendering your fear. You can surrender to a God if you believe in one or to the Universe, to nature, or even to your higher self.  

Reach Out to Your Support Network

Although we need to be socially isolating, we still need to maintain a social connection. Reach out to family and friends to connect with them over the phone or through Facebook. Try to not feed each other’s anxiety but instead work to calm each other down. To find moments of connection through humor, relaxation, remanence about good memories and things to come. Try not to get stuck hyping each other’s worries and fear up. For sure express your emotions but try not to feed fear.

If you are easily impacted by social media, it may be good to distance yourself from Facebook and Instagram. It is good to be aware of the government changes, but you do not need to flood yourself with constant reminders of the virus. Take the appropriate precautions and know that worrying and stressing will not help stop this virus.

Focus on Self-Care

Take this time to focus on your self-care. Take this time to maybe develop a practice and put new healthy habits into play. Make your home into a sanctuary. Declutter and organize your space. Get out your cozy blankets and Pjs and light the candles or put on the diffuser. Make your home a place you want to be.

Read books, listen to podcasts, set goals, start a gratitude journal, work on the things that light up your Soul. If you don’t know what those things are now is the time to focus on that.

Listen to good music and maybe bake some new goodies, prep some healthy meals and enjoy your space and time. Use this as a chance to reflect and reconnect with yourself. 

Boost Your Immune System

It’s important to give your immune system a boost right now. Increase your vitamin C dose you can take a lot of this a day without risk of harm. I love Emergen-C drinks. Also, focus on boosting your gut health which is the core of your immune system. Take some probiotics and fermented food. Increase your greens and maintain a balanced diet. I know I never feel like I get enough greens, so I also use a Greens drink like Greens plus to help me get the extra nutrients.

Get enough sleep! It’s important you are resting and getting a full night sleep 8 hours a night. If you are struggling with falling asleep, I recommend using a mantra.

At night I repeat the words “So (inhale), Hum (exhale)” inside my head. This is a Sanskrit word that translates into “I am”. The brain doesn’t connect this word to anything else since it is not in English and helps my brain to focus and relax.

To fall asleep, you have to relax your nervous system. Every thought you think impacts your nervous system so if you are worrying or excited you will stop yourself from sleeping as you are exciting your nervous system.

At night I repeat the words “So (inhale), Hum (exhale)” and notice my breath and how good my bed feels and how nice it is to lay down and relax. If thoughts come into my mind, I simply tell them it is “So Hum” time and they can start again in the morning.

If you did this all night and never fell asleep you would still be rested as this is a form of meditation that gives the mind and body a rest, sometimes even more rest than sleeping.

Remote Work

For some people, you have lost your job due to facilities closing. There is an increase in remote jobs worldwide. I know they are also looking for online teachers. Here are a few links to blogs that list websites listing remote jobs if you are looking to transition or you need some extra income.

Professional Support

You do not have to go through this alone and there is a lot of online support. Many therapists including myself offer online counseling and coaching. If you have benefits from your work this is often covered. Technology has expanded to be able to offer your support from the comfort of your own home. If you are struggling or maybe you just want to use this time to heal past wounds and to boost your mental health and wellness, then reach out to a therapist today.

Stay safe, healthy and happy. 

Remember everything changes and this too will pass.

Your stress and anxiety will not help the situation you need to remember you can consciously choose to do things that will help you to reduce it.

Choose to relax, talk kindly and compassionately to yourself like you would your child or best friend. Use this time to get stronger, to connect more deeply to yourself in a positive way. If you struggle with this reach out for support.

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kyliefeller
Kylie Feller is a Clinical Counsellor and Life Coach. She is passionate about helping people come back into alignment with their True Self. She specializes in dating, relationships, trauma, transitions, anxiety and depression. To connect with Kylie you can email her, contact her through social media or reach her through the newsletter sign up.

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