Social Distancing, what a weird concept, I definitely did not expect to feel anxious about not being able to leave the house or see my family and friends. Not only am I being restricted from what I do on a daily basis but I am also dealing with the numerous stressors of being at home 24/7 and not having those social supports. It is never easy when you are feeling out of control, unsettled and unable to rest. Anxiety is a tricky thing to manage, but if you follow these tips, you will start to find some relief.
1. Stick to a routine
As elementary as it sounds, sticking to a routine can be incredibly helpful. Social distancing and “stay in place” orders create a sense of chaos and feelings of being out of control. Having a routine or schedule can help ground you and regain some control. Here are a few ways you can stick to a routine:
Eating at regularly set times
Going to bed and waking up at your usual times or new normal time
Exercising a few times a week
Remembering to shower regularly helps as well. This may sound silly but if you are like me, not having a schedule throws off when I shower, so adding that into your schedule can do wonders for your mood.
2. Limit social media and news exposure
The news is mainly focused on COVID-19 and when anxiety is already at a high, exposing yourself to more overwhelming developments can do more damage than
good. It is good to be well informed, but try limiting the time you spend watching/reading and stick with reliable sources. Social media can be a useful distraction but it can also lead to the comparison game:
“He is being more productive”
“They are having more fun”
“She is doing quarantine the right way”
These are some of the thoughts that pop up when we see friends or influencers on social media. It can be easy to get sucked into scrolling for hours while we could be doing something that is a bit more fulfilling. Talking with friends and family over Zoom, going on a walk, sitting outside in the sun, playing with your pet, or spending quality time with the person you live with are some creative alternatives.
3. Be gentle with self and expectations
Millennials tend to have a lot of internal and external expectations, being kind to yourself and gentle with what you expect from yourself can be key in helping alleviate anxiety. There has been a lot of talk about being productive during this time such as losing weight, cooking, cleaning, reading books, writing books, and catching up on work. In reality, putting too many expectations on yourself can cause a lot of anxiety. Checking in with yourself and figuring out ways to cope while living in uncertain times will decrease that anxiety. Give yourself permission to:
relax on the couch
read a book
eat junk food
All of these things should be done in moderation of course but the point is to allow yourself to catch up on self-care before life starts to be hustling and bustling again.
4. Get Moving
Believe it or not, anxiety uses a lot of energy. Exercise can be helpful in discharging some of that energy and help use up energy that would usually be used for anxiety. Being active has been proven to be beneficial in many ways but it is especially helpful when managing anxiety. Some easy things you can do to get moving:
Go for a walk
Do an at home workout with a friend
Play with a pet can get your blood pumping
If exercise gives you anxiety, try starting out small, go for a 10 minute walk and see how that feels, it probably wouldn’t hurt to get some fresh air and sunshine either.
5. Reach out to social supports (family, friends, teachers, therapists)
You might be feeling some sense of isolation during this time. and reaching out to family and friends can help fill that gap. As millennials we are not super fond of calling on the phone but texting or FaceTiming is just as beneficial. If you think about it, we usually interact with people by seeing people at work, getting gas, and going to the grocery store but due to social distancing, that social interaction is extremely low. Anxiety can creep in pretty quickly with the isolation from the coronavirus restrictions, but you can combat that by checking in on loved ones or even reaching out to a therapist for more support.
You may still be feeling some anxiety after trying these tips and tricks, that's understandable, the goal is to decrease that anxiety a little bit every day. Unfortunately, anxiety does not have a quick fix, but you can find some anxiety relief by practicing these tips as much as you can. My hope is when you try these hacks, you will be able to see how you can manage the anxiety you are feeling in healthy ways.
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Christina Titcomb is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Christina specializes in treating adults for trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn and Facebook.