I want to help you as much as I can during this difficult times, so I have put together 21 tips to reduce anxiety. Remember to be compassionate and patient with yourself. You’re doing your best. I invite you to stay away from “should” and “musts,” and closer to “I want,” “I choose,” “I give myself permission to,” “I could.” Do what you can. Be on your side. Say out loud: I’M ON MY SIDE.
1. Limit news consumption to reliable sources. Know the facts. It is important to be informed about everything related to COVID-19, but it’s healthy and helpful to find a balance doing other things that distracts you and makes you feel content to avoid the increase of anxiety or fear. Try to schedule your favorite time to watch the news from a reliable source to help you with the urge to watch the news all day.
2. I invite you to focus on what you can do. Write down all the things you can do to stay safe staying at home, when you go to the pharmacy or grocery store, when you come back home, when you go to work if you’re still going, when you take the dog out. Make a routine as simple and as clear as you can for all that live in your house. If you have children make nice colorful signs in the bathroom and around the house, by the door etc., to help them follow the new routine. This certainty will help to reduce anxiety and fear because you’ll feel you have some control.
3. Feel proud of yourself. By taking all the precautions and staying home you’re contributing with your community, you’re protecting your neighbors, yourself and your family.
4. Do what you can. Be compassionate with yourself and don’t judge yourself. Do what you can. You have enough on your plate. Don’t expect to be the perfect mother, father, woman, problem solver, professional, friend, wife, husband and human being. You’re doing all you can. It’s ok to let some things go now. Give yourself time to recover.
5. Stay virtually social. Sometimes we don’t talk to people that are special for us in weeks, months and even years because we’re caught by our busy lives. One of the most amazing things about technology is that we can be very close at any moment. Make a video call, or use Zoom, phone, Face Time or Skype to connect with all those special people you haven’t contacted in a while. And definitely stay in regular contact with your family and close friends. You can be, for example, in Skype or Face Time while you cook and it will feel like you’re together.
6. Flexible routine. Having a routine helps to have some control and predictability, but in these circumstances if you have a difficult time to keep up I invite you to relax and lower your expectations. You’re already doing your best. Give yourself permission, even if you have children, to just relax or do whatever you want.
7. Look for the good. “Look for the good” like an exercise or like a game. If you live with your children, partner, spouse, or other people in the house you can all make a list of the good things that are also happening or you can get out of all this and hang it in a special place where you all can see it. Every time someone has a new idea, they can add it to the list.
8. How can you help? Find safe ways to help. Helping others or a cause always makes you feel great. A lot of people are making face masks. Maybe call the old lady that lives in your building everyday and make sure she’s ok.
9. Laugh therapy. I’m a strong believer that a sense of humor is a great tool. It's saved my life many times. I mean it. Watch fanny videos, funny movies, and bloopers, anything that makes you laugh or even smile.
10. Worry and concern. I invite you to sit with all your family or the people that you live with or even if you live by yourself and write down a list of worries and concerns you want to share. Create a space for those concerns and fear. Where do you feel them in your body? Then all together discuss and come up with the possible solutions and make a plan. Focus on the concrete things you can do and stay away from perfect.
11. Ask for help. I never liked to ask for help at all. It made me feel that I was a burden or guilty, but I learned to get out of that place. I have always helped others from a place of infinite love, I love doing it, and it’s one of my favorites things to do. There are people that are willing to do that for you when you’re going through so much too. This is the time to ask your friends or family members for help. Ask without expectations and if somebody can’t help you, don’t take it personally. Somebody will be there for you. Sometimes it’s the person that you imagine the least, it could be even a stranger. You can also call your doctor or your therapist, counselor. The moment you’re open for help, the Universe will provide.
12. Take care of yourself. The most important thing you can do in times of crisis is to take care of yourself as much as you can. Make a list of little healthy things you can do to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Do what you can. Remember you’re doing your best.
13. Honor your own needs. Do the things that bring you comfort. Maybe that means reading, cleaning, cooking, or talking to your friends, or exercising. Whatever it is, do it. But, stay away from "should" and "I have to" as much as you can. I invite you to be compassionate and patient with yourself. You’re doing your best.
14. Grounding yourself. This one is very useful and effective especially during moments of high anxiety. If breathing makes you feel better, do it slowly and deeply. Then find five colors, say them out loud. Feel the fabric of your shirt, or your pants, or the couch where you’re sitting down, or the floor, is it soft? Rough? Cold? Warm? Is there any smell? What is it? Focus on five sounds? What are they? Do you have candy? Chocolate? Cookie? What’s the flavor? How does the candy, cookie or whatever you’re eating feel in your mouth? Find 10 objects. Say them out loud. Describe one. Using your five senses and being present will help you to go back to your body and reduce your anxiety. You’re doing your best.
15. Practice cozy self-care. Put on your comfiest pajamas. Have a cup of tea or your favorite coffee. Anything that brings you that feeling. You know better than anybody what that is.
16. Bubbly. Imagine you’re blowing bubbles and blowing away anxiety. If you have bubbles even better.
17. Write it down. I have a very personal ritual that I’m going to share here. I hope it can help. I write down all the feelings that make me anxious, sad, stressed, fears, anything that makes me feel bad. Then I burn the paper to let them go. It always makes me feel better.
18. Diaphragmatic breathing. This is a very good-guided diaphragmatic breathing that can help you to reduce anxiety. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPgwQFU1Cwc
19. Choice. This one is a deep one. If you feel that you want to go deep and reflect during these difficult times, then this one could help. When we’re surviving a situation, you always have a choice. Do you pay attention to what you have lost, in this case our freedom to go out, or maybe our jobs, etc., or do you pay attention to what you still have? What is the opportunity behind all this? What is this teaching us? Nothing is permanent. This will pass. As Dr. Edith Eve Eger says, there’s no such a thing as crisis. There’s transition. I invite you to read her book, The Choice. She survived Auschwitz.
20. Relax your muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) reduces cortisol and releases physical tension. I’ll leave this Guided Progressive Relaxation link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6053dnI4Rxg
21. Guided meditation. You don’t have to know how to meditate. There’re many videos in YouTube with guided meditation. You just need to sit still and let yourself be guided. Here there are some I suggest:
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