How to reduce anxiety during the pandemic

During this time of uncertainty, many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety. It’s stressful not knowing what the future holds for us or where we’ll be when the pandemic ends. It can also be anxiety-inducing to know that we can’t do things the way we once did. And, one of the number one concerns that people have on top of these worries, is the fear of us or our loved ones getting the virus and what that might mean, especially for those who are deemed high risk.

We’re constantly bombarded by COVID-19 news. It’s enough for our fears to become stronger and our anxiety to remain at an all-time high. That’s why it’s important to take breaks from the media as much as we can. Of course, we need to stay informed. We need to know what the current recommendations are and what is going on in the world around us. But, we don’t need to remain glued to the news. If we continuously stay focused on the pandemic, we will have a hard time allowing ourselves to breathe and unwind from the daily anxiety that ails us. Only allow yourself a certain amount of time a day to get your news updates, then take a breather from it. On a side note: make sure you’re only following trusted sources for your COVID-19 information. There’s a lot of fake news out there. You can check Snopes.com to see if the content is legit.

Next, turn your attention to the things you are supposed to be doing. This will allow you to feel like you have some control over your current circumstances. There are plenty of ways you can help protect yourself and others. Make sure you’re washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, keep a safe distance from others when you’re in public (preferably six feet or more), avoid going out unless absolutely necessary and wear a cloth mask when you do.

Avoid thinking only of the pandemic, and try to draw your attention elsewhere. Make time for your hobbies, listen to music, watch movies, do breathing exercises, pray to a higher power and connect with your loved ones over the phone, digitally or by old fashioned letters. Allow yourself to express what you’re feeling through journaling daily. You can also try to strategize a plan for how you’ll handle things if your worst fears would come true. But, try not to dwell too much on what might happen, and instead, focus on what you can do today to stay happy and healthy

You should also try to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine. Each morning list a couple of things you’re thankful for. It’s a great way to start your day on a positive note.

Take extra steps to keep yourself healthy too. Exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep benefits your physical and mental health. It’s a win-win. And, don’t forget to take time to get outside and enjoy the healing effects of nature.

While taking steps to keep yourself healthy and reduce anxiety, remember that turning to substances is not the answer. It can be easy to fall back into bad habits when you’re looking for relief from anxiety, but this will only compound the issue. Also, make sure that you continue to get treatment for any mental health issues you may be struggling with, stay connected with your counselor throughout the pandemic.

Yes, there are plenty of things to be anxious about, but living with this heightened anxiety isn’t good for you or the others living in your household. Take a breath right now and release the stress. Afterward, make it a point to find ways to ease your anxiety so you can reduce the heavy burden you’re carrying.

[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]

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