Most people are feeling anxious after living the effects of Covid-19. Here’s a guide on how to notice if you’re anxious & what to do about it…
What is anxiety?
It’s based on a fear of the unknown – that may be about the past, present or future – mostly around unknown possibilities that may come along or questions about things that have happened in the past. We tend to worry about these unknowns & often imagine the worst-case scenario
Covid-19 is the biggest collective unknown we’ve ever experienced. We don’t know how it’s going to go, what it’s end point is, and many people are struggling with not knowing or being able to control that.
What does anxiety feel like physically in your body?
Symptoms – you can have any combination of these or just one or two:
- raised heart rate
- fast breathing/hyperventilating
- sweaty hands
- tension in muscles
- stomach tightness/pain
- needing the bathroom a lot
- dry mouth
- touble sleeping or sleeping a lot
So what can I do about anxiety? Here are four coping skills:
1) Notice if you’re engaging in negative self-talk – what are you saying to yourself internally – is it helpful? Is it accurate? Are your expectations of yourself fair? Start to notice what we call thinking errors – negative automatic thoughts or irrational thoughts:
- Catastrophising – am I expecting the worst-case scenario?
- Black and white thinking – are my thoughts extreme, where it’s all or nothing? Just black or white, with no grey area?
- Mind reading – am I assuming what other people think about me or a situation?
- Fortune telling – do I decide what will happen in the future & stress about it? Even though it hasn’t happened yet?
- Demanding – like I HAVE TO do it this way, I SHOULD do x or y – giving yourself too many things to do, or frustration if you don’t get to a certain task – can you give yourself a break?
2) Have good personal boundaries – figure out what healthy boundaries are for you & stick to them.
Notice if you feel you’re having a digital overload – especially if you’re working from home – too much time on screens?
Take breaks from being online – on your morning break, go outside into your garden – at lunchtime go for a walk, run, cycle, spend time in nature if you can
At the end of the day – create a boundary where you log off work at a particular time & unwind & go and do other things
Phone-free bedroom – leave your phone downstairs when you go to bed or stop looking at it an hour before you plan to sleep
3) Try to deal in facts – in terms of what you know and where you are now, personally & in your family. Try not to catastrophise about what might (or might not!) happen in the future for you or your family.
Notice if you’re spending too much time in future unknowns and thinking about the ‘what if’ scenarios.
4) Rate It – Have a think about how you’re feeling & try to rate how anxious you are out of 10, if 10 is the most anxious you’ve ever been & 1 is the most relaxed.
This encourages spectrum thinking – it’s not black and white – that you’re either anxious or not, where are you on the range of 1-10?
Rating your anxiety gives you a way to keep in touch with how you’re feeling & can give you a sense of control – notice if and when it changes – how you go up one or down one – what happened to make it increase or decrease?