This pandemic is devastating. Everything that we hear about COVID-19 just seems to keep getting worse. And every day more questions creep into my mind: What if I get sick? What if my spouse or kids get sick? What happens if the economy keeps crashing? What about my parents? What if school isn’t back in the fall and my kids keep playing the same Disney songs over and over and over? What if...what if…what if…?
If you are like me, these questions are constant and the pressure created from my thoughts impact how I feel physically, my ability to sleep, and my relationships. I'm finding that recently I have not eaten well, my patience is short, my temper is quick, and I’m often having to pick my motivation up off the floor.
Maybe you are yelling at your kids, or arguing with your spouse. Maybe you are spending the day hiding in your bed, or struggling to find enjoyment because you are worried about all the negative possibilities. These days life can easily feel like it’s spiraling out of control and anxiety is winning the day, living as an “unwelcomed guest” in our homes and in our bodies.
Anxiety is one way a person’s body may cope when experiencing some kind of emotional reaction. When a person feels threatened, the body goes into an automatic reaction of “fight or flight.” It’s a very human reaction and survival technique or coping behavior. But what do you do when there really isn’t anywhere to “fly” to? A high level of anxiety is often the result.
I’ll be writing more about the ways that students, parents, couples, and single adults may be experiencing anxiety during the time of COVID and what you can try to find relief. For now, if you are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than usual, know that you are not alone. Be kind to yourself. Recognize that you do have some control over what you are experiencing. Here are a few quick things to try:
· Pay attention to your pace of breathing. Quick, shallow breaths raise anxiety. Slow down your breathing – fill up your lungs. Anxiety struggles to grow when you’re intentionally breathing slow.
· Go for a walk or run outside (in a non-crowded area).
· Stop reading the news or consuming social media (you’re not likely to find any good news there right now since John Krasinski sold SGN).
· Talk to a friend. But make sure it’s the kind of friend that gives you energy.
· Listen to music you enjoy or relaxes you (even Disney music…if that’s your thing).
· Be mindful of your intake of caffeine (WHAT?!?! But…coffee is my friend!)
· Journal about some of the things you are appreciating about your life. If journaling isn’t your thing, make a list of what you love about your life.
One thing is clear about the current state of affairs…this is tough. This isn’t the ideal for anyone. But if we can slow our minds down just a bit it makes it easier to take control over what we can control. We aren’t helpless in this. I encourage you to start the journey of taking a few simple steps to lessen anxiety and regain your life from the stress.
Wellspace Counseling practices in Tualatin, Oregon and serves Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and the Greater Portland Metro Area. To find more information about Wellspace Counseling, visit the at www.wellspacepdx.com.