The devastation brought about by the pandemic has had a marked impact on the mental health of people globally. There has been a significant rise in extreme stress and anxiety given the economic uncertainty, unemployment, emotional strife, millions of deaths and unprecedented curbs on social interactions. While we may not be able to avoid anxiety and stress completely, we can surely keep a tab on our response to the triggers to mitigate their impact.
Anxiety is one of our most primal instincts to avoid threats. It helps us perform well, respond to threats and even protect us from harm. However, in chronic cases, it is essential to identify and work on coping with anxiety as it can cause one to be agitated, fearful and constantly on the edge. If left unaddressed, it soon begins to impact one’s daily activities, health, job performance and even relationships. People mistake anxiety as “normal” or as a byproduct of “stress” and often people are not even aware that they have an anxiety disorder.
We can either make things happen or allow them to happen to us. The barriers to moving forward are usually deep inside us. We give power to whatever we focus upon – limitations or possibilities. It is important to be cognizant of this fact and take charge of our lives instead of letting anxiety throw us off.
Here are some ways to cope with post Covid anxiety.
1. Accept & acknowledge – Don’t try to dismiss anxiety or uncertainty as unreal. Accept and acknowledge the signs to be able to get past the anxiousness. Rebuilding, post Covid, requires a lot of energy, support and focus. Don’t rush; take things at your own pace.
2. Break down tasks – Take things slow and break the anxiety-provoking tasks into smaller steps. Always start your day with activities that make you least anxious and gradually build up the confidence to add more to your plate; ease yourself into it.
3. Change the negatives to positives – Replace catastrophic thinking with exciting prospects. Flipping the switch is a great way to curb overthinking – replace every “What if this goes wrong?” with “What if this provides me with more opportunities?”
4. Focus on facts – Bring your attention to the facts and not the panic-laden thoughts. Remind yourself that there is a difference in possibility and probability. Take good care of yourself and take all precautions; do not assume the worst-case scenario for yourself. Focus on actions that can be taken and choose your response instead of reacting out of habitual negative choices.
5. Practice compassion – Notice how you are feeling from a space of compassion instead of being self-critical. Indulge in self-care activities, create & follow a routine and do not succumb to the pressure of feeling normal instantly. Focus on what makes you happy to encourage resilience.
6. Count your blessings – Take out time daily to focus on all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Not only does gratitude make you peaceful and happy but also raises the vibration as it is known to lower the cortisol levels in the body by 23%.
7. Seek support – Connect with friends and family and share how you feel instead of feeling isolated. Seek help from an expert in extreme cases so that you can manage your feelings in a better way instead of letting your health, work, relationships and life be gravely impacted by it all.
The majority of anxiety and stress stems from our interpretation of the external factors and the stories we make in our heads. Hence, we can learn and unlearn ways of coping with the same. Life goes through ebbs and flows and it is normal to feel anxious when things seem to be going downhill, however, it is important to remind oneself that an ‘up’ is round the corner. Take care of your mental and emotional health along with your physical health to experience a peaceful life. Psychotherapy, cognitive reframing skills, meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, journaling, good sleep, exercise and nutrition help in breaking the vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. Don’t let anxiety be relentless and seek help from an expert before it’s too late.
The author is a Psychotherapist, Life Alchemist, Coach & Healer, and Founder and Director of Gateway of Healing.