Feeling anxious? You’re not alone especially as the pandemic rages on. Going into the fall and winter months, there’s tremendous uncertainty in the world. So, give these techniques a try to calm your mind.
What’s driving your stress, fear, and anxiety? In 2020, there are probably a lot of reasons you feel the way you do.
You’re not alone. Everyone feels anxious or stressed at some point in their lives. It’s just right now, there’s a collective and simultaneous sense of being unsettled.
Over time, chronic stress has an impact on both physical and emotional health and well-being. Have you ever felt these symptoms that the Mental Health Foundation of the UK points out are common when stressed or overwhelmed?
- Faster or irregular heart rate.
- Weak or tense muscles.
- Heavy breathing.
- Lack of appetite, stress eating, or food cravings.
- Cold and hot sweats.
- Dry mouth.
- You feel frozen in place.
- You can’t concentrate.
Anxiety can also cause gastrointestinal disorders, chronic respiratory disorders, and heart disease.
So, how can you overcome these thoughts?
- Accept your fears without judgment
- Move past uncertainty.
- Take a moment and breathe.
- Be authentic.
- Start a self-care routine.
Accept your fears without judgment
First, acknowledge your fears by naming them. Be specific and write them down.
You’ll be surprised how much this writing exercise calms your mind.
When you put them on paper, you’re acknowledging they exist. You can no longer hide from them. Accept them without judgment so you can find a path forward.
Moving past uncertainty
In a world filled with uncertainty, it’s more challenging to move past it all because it surrounds us all day.
While there’s a collective uncertainty now, know that life has always uncertain.
“The only certainty is that nothing is certain.”– Pliny the Edler (Roman author and philosopher)
You subconsciously move past uncertainty all day every day, even on days when life seems to be at its best. Nothing you do is certain to have the outcome you expect.
We cling to the idea of control and certainty, even though they’re illusions at best.
When you accept uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, your tolerance and ability to manage these emotions increases. It’s often your tolerance threshold that matters most because uncertainty does not have to be bad. It’s your tolerance of unpredictability that determines the impact on your life.
How do you become more tolerant of uncertainty so it doesn’t lead to stress and anxiety? Take a deep breath and breathe.
Clear your mind. Be mindful by focusing on the present rather than worrying about the past or the future.
Take another breath. Relax your shoulders.
Focusing on your breath is a simple but effective form of stress relief (and it’s free!). Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the fathers of mindfulness. He has achieved amazing results in patients with a variety of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, depression, and both sleep and stress disorders through his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program.
You don’t need to spend hours focusing on your breath. Closing your eyes and focusing for five minutes can have a powerful impact.
Shift your mindset to the positive things in life. Are you spending more time with family during the pandemic or discovered a new hobby? Find the silver linings and reflect on the blessings in your life.
To enhance your practice, use visual and audio cues. Imagine you’re on a beach, in the mountains, on a lake, or in nature listening to the birds chirp. Or, listen to an instructor guide you to a state of calm.
Mindfulness can calm your mind in the following ways. It can help you:
- Focus on being rather than doing.
- Observe thoughts and feelings without judgment.
- Accept life.
- Enable you to be more open to letting things happen and also letting things go.
- Be more patient.
- See things with a fresh perspective.
- Be respectful of your intuition.
Sometimes it’s easier and feels safer to copy someone else’s behavior than putting yourself out there. The latter makes you feel vulnerable.
Authenticity can be difficult in a world where many engage personas rather than being themselves. But being authentic is essential to avoiding an additional and avoidable stress. It’s exhausting being someone else or the person you think others expect you to be.
And if you are authentic, you are less likely to absorb the fear and anxiety of others. Be the one to stop the chain reaction and follow your instincts. Make your own informed decisions based on facts, not opinions, and based on your beliefs and not others.
Authenticity can strengthen your relationships and make you feel better about life, your choices, and your safety.
Start a self-care routine
Focus on you and ways to make your positive outlook shine through more often.
All of the aforementioned actions can be part of your self-care routine. You can also try a gratitude journal, a technology timeout, vision board, or simply take a moment to breathe. That way you can redirect your thinking to the positive.
Positivity is powerful, but can be daunting to achieve in the midst of a pandemic. A gratitude journal will force you to reflect on the positives of the day rather than dwelling on what’s gone wrong.
In a time where everyone can use a little extra “love,” what about showing someone you care with an unexpected card or gesture of kindness?
Remember what mindfulness teaches us – focus on the present. Put down your smartphone and focus on today.
Taking action today will help you now and during the next personal or global crisis.