Coping with 2020 itself has been challenging to say the least...
2020 has certainly been a year of unexpected events. Between COVID-19, racial injustice, and a deep political divide, many of us have experienced anxiety this year and maybe even at an all-time high. While uncertainty in itself can cause anxiety, that sense of wonder and concern about the future isn’t likely to die out anytime soon, so we must look for ways we can manage anxiety and healthily cope.
Google searches for “ways to cope with anxiety” will bring up a plethora of information. Please feel free to search after reading this if you feel these methods aren’t helpful, though I have compiled below some proven, science-based coping skills that I find to be generally effective.
This may be one you’re familiar with which is why I’m listing it first. Many of us have read or been told that controlled breathing can lessen anxiety but what does that mean and how should you go about it? It’s pretty simple actually. All you need to remember is “4, 4, 6!”
First, make sure you are seated comfortably. This won’t be as effective if you are hunched over or crouched down. Breathe in deeply through your nose while slowly counting to 4.
Hold the air in while again counting to 4.
Slowly exhale through your mouth with lips together, as though you’re blowing out a birthday candle in slow motion. This time exhale while counting to 6.
Do this for 3-5 minutes and you’ll find you feel calmer.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
This may or may not be something you’ve tried but even if you have, please give it another shot using these tips! Again, you’ll want to start by sitting comfortably or lying down. For each area of the body listed, you will want to tense your muscles but not to a point of strain or pain. As you do this, pay attention to the difference between feeling tension and relaxation in each part of your body. Hold each position for 10 seconds before releasing.
Feet: curl your toes down into your feet then release.
Calves: point your toes or flex your feet. You can also flex your calves. Hold then relax.
Thighs: squeeze them together tightly or flex them then release.
Torso: for this, you can either suck your stomach in or flex it then release.
Back: squeeze your shoulder blades together then relax.
Shoulders: lift your shoulders toward your head like an exaggerated “huh?” 🤷🏻♀️ Then relax.
Arms: clench each hand into a fist and draw them up toward your shoulders. Hold then relax.
Hands: clench your hands into fists again. This time hold them in that position then let go.
Face: scrunch your face as though you're pulling each part of your face into your nose.
Full body: try to tense up all of your muscles and hold for 10 then release.
Challenge Irrational Thoughts
Anxiety is made worse by irrational thinking. Given the state of our world, it’s easy to understand why we might be having irrational thoughts. “Will the world come to an end before 2021?” “Will we all die from COVID-19?” Ok, these may be actual thoughts you’ve had and it’s understandable why. If you find yourself fixated on irrational thoughts about our world or maybe something more personal to your life, try the following:
Examine the evidence: Is there any actual factual evidence to support this thought? What is the evidence to disprove this thought? If you can’t find evidence to back it up, it’s likely an irrational thought.
Use Socratic questioning: ask yourself the following regarding your specific thought:
Is this thought based on feelings or facts?
How would a good friend or family member view this thought?
How likely is it that this will come true or that this is true?
What is the most likely outcome?
Even if my fear comes true, will it matter in a week, a month, a year?
While anxiety isn’t uncommon that doesn’t mean it is easy to manage. With millions of people dealing with anxiety daily, these tips are designed to apply to the majority of people though we each have specific anxieties that may require specific remedies. Please reach out if you’d like more personalized help managing anxiety. With the state of the world, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and manage your anxiety so it doesn’t become debilitating.
If you need further help, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a session: Nayaclinics.com/book-online
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