Staying Calm With Anti-anxiety Tips Amid COVID-19
Like you, we’re closely monitoring the quickly developing effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I share your pain for the losses and massive disruption you have incurred over the past week; and will continue to incur as social distancing and closing mandates continue.
We put together 4 strategies for managing anxiety at home and staying calm amid COVID-19. We teach anti-anxiety strategies at Austin Trauma Therapy Center almost daily with our clients, and we thought we’d share them with the public during these unprecedented times. Here are some quick and simple techniques to use at home:
4×4 breathing to Bring Down Anxiety
- Using a simple approach like 4×4 breathing is helpful for bringing your breathing back to a calm and healthy pace. This technique is used often with PTSD. First, you’ll inhale a breath in while counting to yourself, one, two, three, four, then you’ll hold that breath for four seconds counting to yourself, one, two, three, four, and then you’ll exhale that breath, counting to yourself, one, two, three, four. You’ll want to repeat this at least 3-5 times. So the quick version is inhale-1234,hold-1234, exhale-1234, repeat.
Grounding Your Anxiety With a Body Scan
2. In a sitting position, you’ll start by placing both feet on the ground noticing the ground underneath you. Can you feel the ground? what does that feel like? Can you feel your toes, what about your ankles, next scan your calves, can you feel them? Moving on to your knees, what do your knees feel like? How about your thighs, and your back–do you notice what your back feels like, and is there any tension here?
Moving onto your arms and shoulders. Noticing what these parts feels like. Now moving onto you chest and neck, noticing these parts as you scan them and move onto your jaw. Is your jaw clenched or relaxed? How about your head, what do you notice here? Lets scan our body parts as we move back down to our jaw, and neck, and chest and shoulders and elbows and stomach, and hands and hips, and thighs, now knees and ankles and toes. As you move to each part spend a few seconds with each.
This strategy can be useful for managing anxiety while at home.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Shifting the Anxiety
3. This next strategy is my favorite and helps with mindfulness. You’ll notice 5 things that you see, and if it feels helpful you can name those 5 things. Next, you’ll notice 4 things you feel. Just like the grounding, noticing the feeling of the socks on your toes, or shirt on your body. Next 3 sounds you notice, and 2 smells you notice, and lastly 1 thing you taste. What we’re doing here is shifting the attention away from the future-focused anxiety and bringing ourselves back into body awareness.
Journaling or getting creative with anxiety
4. The last strategy involves using your creative energy to shift the focus away from the anxiety through journaling two things you are grateful for each day. This can be helpful for bringing positivity to your day during these times. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle, building legos (these aren’t just for kids anymore), or channeling the creativity through music/ writing. All of these strategies can help you spend some time focusing on the self, rather than external factors.
Lastly, if you find that your stress and anxiety is increasing, take a break from social media and news outlets to twice a day. Feel free to browse our other blogs for tips and information. You can visit the World Health Organization for more information about the Coronavirus.
Be safe out there! We’re all in this together.