The constant bad news bulletins, the many questions swirling round our minds plus the fact we’re in uncharted territory can be a recipe for anxiety. But though our daily lives may be full of stressors outside our control, worrying doesn’t help.
Editor Jane Garton looks at the top ten things we can do to stay calm and positive and help us weather the storm.
1. Keep in touch
In these times, our relationships with others become even more important. “Draw up a ‘spread sheet of love‘ of all the family, friends and acquaintances who mean a lot to you and think how you can send them love and happiness – a phone call, email, postcard, a funny picture in the post, or a text. Staying in contact helps to calm us down,” says life coach Carole Ann Rice.
2. Limit your intake of news
For the sake of your mental calm, resist the temptation to constantly check news and respond to every notification. Uninstall any apps and mute friends whose online posts make you anxious. Instead set a limited time – say 10 minutes in the morning and the evening (though not immediately before bed) – to log onto a reputable health news website such as the NHS or WHO for valid information.
3. Structure your day
Chances are your normal daily routine has gone out the window but in these uncertain times it helps to create your own structure. Create a list and stick to a timetable, using an alarm if it helps. Break bigger tasks into smaller chunks and reward yourself at the end of each, perhaps with a cup of relaxing tea such as camomile or valerian.
4. Share it
If your anxieties are becoming overwhelming don’t keep them to yourself. “It is easy to get overwhelmed in our own pattern of negative thoughts, so talking these though can help break those cycles,” according to the mental health charity Rethink. Get hold of someone you trust. Then sit down somewhere quiet with them or pick up the phone and chat openly and honestly about your feelings and your concerns.
5. Address any problems
Worried about your job or your income? Take as much control as you can. There are schemes afoot to help with rent or mortgage payments and financial support for businesses, so do some research and plan ahead.
6. Relax, relax
Make time for relaxation every day. Good options include yoga, meditation or something as simple as soaking in a bath. Try listening to some uplifting music – better still dance to your favourite music. Enjoy going for a walk or reading a book.
7. Go with the flow
Learn to just be. Do absolutely nothing. Just sit down or simply stop and stare. Try it for a few minutes at least three times a day. Forget your thoughts and worries and relish the empty moment. This will help to centre you and keep your mood calm and balanced.
8. Stay positive
Try to replace any ‘negative self-talk’ with ‘coping self-talk’. When you catch yourself thinking something negative like “I can’t stay at home for weeks, it’s just too hard,” try to change it to something more positive, like “This is hard, but I can get through it.” And then put into practise some of these ten tips.
9. Be grateful
Finish your day with a positive acknowledgement of something you have accomplished, learned or are grateful for. It will help dilute some of the negativity you might be experiencing and remind you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.
10. Remedy it
The herbal relaxants, such as valerian and passionflower, do just as their name implies – they aid relaxation and calm. They are also good for insomnia and general anxiety as well as for helping to reduce the physical effects of stress, such as tense muscles and digestive problems.
It releases jaw tension and oxygenates the blood.
Sip a flower:
Add a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy to some water and sip.
Take a catnap:
10-20 minutes – no longer – is reviving.
Cover your eyes:
Place cupped hands over your eyes for a few minutes.
Watch the booze:
Tempting as it may be to pour yourself a drink to numb your feelings, remember alcohol is a depressant.
A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg is best – aim for at least 5 portions a day. Include oily fish twice a week – packed full of mood-boosting omega-3s.
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