-Paula Litt, Director of The West Angeles Counseling Center
During these times of uncertainty and increasing change, you might feel more stressed and anxious each day. And while preventing loss of life is a key priority in the management of any disaster, the significant impact of a pandemic on mental health cannot be denied. You may find yourself experiencing a level of anxiousness and fear, not knowing what the future holds. Where is all of this going (is my family safe, how will we pay our rent and bills, etc.).
And for those individuals who already live with existing anxiety conditions – such as panic disorder, general anxiety, or obsessions and compulsions (OCD) – you may notice worsened symptoms or a sense of losing control.
Here are some tips to help manage increased anxiety during this time:
1. Prepare, don’t panic.
Get the basic supplies needed for this period of isolation. Don’t hoard by buying excessive supplies.
2. Practice mindful exposure.
Constant exposure to media and all of its reporting can increase tension and stress. As a result, we quickly become overwhelmed. Identify one source for updates and information. Then, schedule a “once a day” time to watch and receive information instead of flooding your spirit with pandemic news.
3. Stay social.
Try to use digital platforms like FaceTime, HouseParty, Skype, Messenger, and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family around the globe. It’s important to maintain a connection with your friends and loved ones. While physical isolation may be necessary, total isolation is not.
4. Practice good self-care habits.
You might want to consider…
Walking/running laps around your house, up and downstairs, in your backyard, or around your apartment complex
Follow an online workout video (YouTube has plenty of options), whether you use workout equipment or not
Comfort food might seem appealing, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite meal or some junk food periodically, but try to eat a balanced diet as much as possible, including plenty of healthy fresh vegetables and fruits.
If you become anxious and feel overwhelmed, practice deep breathing (slowly inhale and exhale).
Take a warm bath
Aromatherapy – try scented candles, essential oils or relaxing herbs, a bubble bath, or anything else you have on hand that provides a soothing fragrance
Being outdoors, especially in good weather, can also offer health benefits. Sunlight and fresh air from your own backyard can still boost your mood.
6. Do things you enjoy.
If you’re staying at home, you may have an abundance of free time. Take advantage of this time to read books, or play board and video games with family. You may even want to take up a new craft. Taking time for enjoyable activities not only offers a distraction, but it can also help keep to boost your spirit.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
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