During this Covid-19 outbreak, people can begin to feel fear and anxiety. For some people it can be overwhelming and can cause strong emotions and a change of behaviour.
Some of the things to watch out for right now include:
• Increase in anxiety and low mood
• Sleep disruption
• Eating patterns going off track
• Increased use of alcohol and other substances
• Fear for your own health and loved ones
• Aggressive behaviour
Of course, people have anxieties about lots of different issues and most of the time these anxieties are measured and managed.
However, if the anxieties remain for an extended period of time, this can be cause for concern.
There are many strategies that you can implement to try to manage anxiety.
Different approaches will work for some people and not for others. Try these and find out which ones work for you.
Remember this first.
Anxiety is something that you are experiencing, you are not anxiety. It does not mean you are weak. You are not inferior, you are strong. Anxiety is not owned by you, it is being shared by everyone.
Limit alcohol and caffeine.
During stressful times people tend to self-medicate in order to manage their emotions. Unfortunately, both alcohol and caffeine can aggravate anxiety and also trigger panic attacks. During times of stress your body requires additional sleep and rest.
During social distancing we have fewer resources available at our disposal when it comes to exercising. Be creative and find an exercise that allows you to work off some nervous energy. Exercise releases brain chemicals that help reduce anxiety and low mood.
Mindfulness for anxiety.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps people to become more grounded in the present moment. Focus on the bodily sensations arising when you are anxious. Rather than trying to avoid or distract yourself from these feelings, remain present and fully experience the symptoms of anxiety. Eventually they will subside.
Challenging your inner critic.
We all talk to ourselves in our head, this is quite normal and helps us manage our lives. However, sometimes this self-talk can be destructive and at the same time we may not even be aware that we are saying these things to ourselves. Firstly, notice that you are doing it, then challenge the actual thought, for example “I am going to get ill”. You don’t actually know this for a fact. This kind of challenging can help regulate and place perspective on your thoughts, in turn reducing your anxiety.
Anil Arora is a Therapist based in the UAE offering counselling, couples’ therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnotherapy and coaching. For more, visit www.changetherapies.com.