Many of us experience anxiety in everyday life but the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has caused even the most optimistic and ‘glass half full’ of us to feel confusion, anxiety and stress. Firstly, it’s absolutely OK to feel anxious but don’t ignore anxiety symptoms and let them build up. Almost everyone all over the world is feeling some form of anxiety at present but here are some ways to help ease coronavirus stress and anxiety. Remember, if you are experiencing extreme anxiety and nothing you’ve tried seems to be helping, please arrange to see your GP.
Set aside some time each day to sit quietly and meditate. Meditation can help to remove stressful and anxious thoughts from your mind. It can also act as an antidepressant and give you a sense of calm and mindfulness. 30 minutes a day is ideal but even five minutes can be beneficial. There are great meditation apps available such as Calm, Headspace, Stop, Breathe and Think or look on YouTube for countless meditation and relaxation videos.
Never underestimate the power of yoga and its ability to relax, destress and help with anxiety! There are many types of yoga you can practice but for anxiety, try yin or restorative yoga.
You don’t even need to do it for that long to feel its amazing benefits. Try it for just 10 or 15 minutes a day and see how much better you feel. Search YouTube for videos.
Reflexology can be a wonderful way to help with anxiety and as a qualified reflexologist, I see so many clients who are looking for help with stress and anxiety symptoms (and this was before the Covid-19 outbreak). Unfortunately, at present, it’s not possible to visit a professional reflexologist but there are some techniques you can practice on yourself (or you could ask someone in your household to do them) to help alleviate anxiety. Take a look at The Association of Reflexologists’ video on hand reflexology for stress and tension here. You can easily use the sequence on yourself, one hand at a time.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety symptoms so try and make sure you get plenty of sleep and go to bed and get up at your usual times, even if your normal daily routine is completely out the window!
5. Eat healthily
Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water if possible. Dehydration, processed foods and preservatives can cause mood changes and won’t help if you’re already feeling anxious. Aim for a diet rich in complex carbohydrates (think brown bread, rice and pasta), fruit, vegetables and good quality proteins.
6. Limit your time watching news
This will be a massive trigger for most people and I think it’s probably the single most important way to ease anxiety at this time. Limit your time watching the news and looking at social media, especially last thing before bedtime.
7. Keep a diary
Manage your worries and thoughts by writing them down. You could also write a gratitude list in your diary – what things are you grateful for right now? E.g. a home, a garden, being with close family, your health etc.
8. Aromatherapy and essential oils
Aromatherapy is the use of very concentrated essential oils which are extracted from a wide variety of plants. Each oil has its own unique fragrance and healing property. Not only do they smell incredible but these aromas can have a hugely positive effect too when you add a few drops to your bath, apply them topically onto your skin or use them in a diffuser. For adults, add up to 5 drops in 2 tbsp bath oil or shower gel. Or add this quantity to a carrier oil for massage (I use sweet almond oil but if you’re not leaving the house, you can use oils you may already have at home such as olive, sunflower or coconut).
Essential oils to help ease anxiety:
*Not suitable for children under 12 years
**Not suitable for children under 6 years
***Not suitable for babies under 12 months
^ Do not use within 3 hours of going out in the sun as pigmentation of the skin may be affected
For more information about aromatherapy, see www.aromatherapycouncil.org.uk.
9. Talk to someone you trust
If you’re really struggling, do not hesitate to talk to someone you trust, whether that’s on the telephone or via Skype.
10. Avoid too much alcohol
Let’s face it, a lot of us have been reaching for a drink during these really hard times. Whilst a drink in the evening can help us to unwind, be wary of drinking too much alcohol. It can exacerbate anxiety and also interfere with sleep, making you feel even worse the next day.