A Peer’s Perspective: Stressing over Anxiety
According to Webster’s dictionary, anxiety is “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill”. Anxiety, while all too familiar to me and most likely many of you as well, seems now to be a persistent perturbation that pervades all areas of life now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Managing anxiety of that scope is not as easy as simply calming down.
As humans, we often think that the worst will happen and thoughts that confirm this are allowed through our filtering process. Eventually we can come to believe our thoughts are fact, and I know only too well how crippling this can be! I would love to share what I have learned with the hope that it can help you now during these anxious times.
Breathe. As simple as it sounds, it’s a vital first step in working through the stress that you feel. Purposefully taking a deep breath or two begins to regulate your breathing and brings you back to baseline. When we panic, breathing becomes quick and shallow and prevents oxygen from entering your body so your systems can function properly. You can become lightheaded and feel faint as well so something like box breathing is incredibly helpful in regulating your body’s responses. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts and wait for 4 counts. You can also check out Dr. Amy’s tutorial on it on Mind Springs Health’s Facebook page. Try this the next time you feel anxiety begin and see how it can help you.
Review facts. In anxious situations I have felt that everything was going to come crashing down and there would be nothing I could do to offset any problems that might ensue. What I have learned is that what is within my control is getting facts of the matter straight. Having the facts in hand really helps me see situations aren’t as earth-shattering as I may assume. This is also true with the COVID-19 information that is offered at every turn. Choosing to rely on one reliable source, limiting social media access and even purposefully taking breaks altogether from the abundance of news on this very concerning matter can reduce and help to manage anxieties that you may be experiencing during this time.
Remember this too shall pass. Once panic begins it feels overwhelming and if you are similar to me, fighting it once it hits only magnifies it. I have learned that there are things I am able to do that can help me get through and let the waves pass over me. Things like listening to music that calms me, exercising or a stroll, taking a bath or drinking a cup of tea. Now these may not fix the root of the concern, yet they can truly help you to get to a place where you can manage the concern in a clearer way.
You have the ability to take steps to work through anxiety, and be resilient and successful in doing so. YOU are the expert in what will work best for you and always remember that reaching out to a mental health professional for support is a perfectly acceptable step to take in moving towards mental wellness, especially during these trying times. Even socially distanced, we are better together!
Jill Davis is Peer Services Coordinator for Mind Springs Health and is here to support her readers. Drop her a line at Peers@MindSpringsHealth.org