Coping with anxiety during difficult times

Here’s some practical advice for handling feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, and how to combat stress at home.

Anxiety is a natural response to stress, but it’s something you can control even from the comfort of your own home. Here are seven scientifically proven strategies you can follow at home to help you handle anxiety and feelings of uncertainty during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and beyond.

1. Focus on what you can control

According to psychologists, if there’s one thing you can control, it’s your feelings. For example, you can’t control what’s going on in the world right now, but you can control how you respond. Divert your energy into maintaining a positive attitude, and you’ll feel more in control of the situation. 

2. Try meditation

Studies have shown that meditation and controlled breathing can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress. Pick a quiet spot and start with short, manageable sessions – according to meditation experts, just three or four minutes is enough to make a difference. 

3. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that increases our awareness of our surroundings and helps us appreciate the small things, whether it’s how comfortable our chair is, or how beautiful a day it is outside. There’s convincing medical evidence that mindfulness is effective for treating anxiety.

4. Reduce social media usage

According to a survey by the Journal of the American Medical Association, there’s a direct link between social media usage and anxiety and depression. Right now, when everything is so uncertain, social media only heightens these feelings – cut back on social networking and only trust reliable sources, such as the WHO, for news. 

5. Journal your thoughts

Writing down how you feel can help you identify what’s really bothering you. If you’re feeling anxious or uncertain, acknowledge your feelings by writing them down – often, this simple act makes our emotions feel less daunting. 

6. Exercise 

Studies show that exercise releases endorphins, which help boost your mood and sharpen your concentration. Try home workouts, such as yoga, to instantly improve your mood and relieve anxiety. 

7. Allocate yourself “worry time”

It sounds counterintuitive, but doctors suggest setting aside 30 minutes a day to focus on what’s bothering you. Try and “worry” at the same time every day and jot down any feelings you want to return to later.

Left unchecked, feelings of uncertainty can quickly spiral into severe anxiety. By following the seven tips outlined above, you can cope with whatever life throws at you – even a global pandemic.