Jul 15, 2020
Calming The Anxious Mind During COVID19
The current presence of COVID-19 has created increased chaos, and many of us are left wondering what is going to happen as a result. Our mind has a tendency to wander around and jump to various conclusions, but there are alternative ways to think and behave that might help us feel better. When I find myself getting stuck in my own mind or thinking negatively about a situation, I often think “what can I do to change the feelings related to this thought process”. I will share some techniques I use and why I enjoy them, and I would also like to share some techniques for you to try in case my ideas aren’t of direct interest. Being outdoors has always provided a sense of enjoyment because fresh air, exploring nature, and learning how the world works without human involvement is fascinating. Sometimes I like to take it a step further and ride my ATV in the woods to explore different land structures or wildlife. I usually do this with my cell phone only being used in case of emergency so I am not distracted and can enjoy the moment. I also think we need to learn how to “disconnect” from the world temporarily, which includes putting down our phones and feeling a sense of freedom from social interaction. Utilizing video games could be another way to disconnect from the world for a little while and put energy into a virtual world of achievement. Some other helpful techniques to reduce anxiety/stress are:
1: Guided meditation - Utilizing this technique allows us to be present in the moment, which helps minimize stress, anxiety, and depressed mood. I have found this technique to be helpful in the evenings when trying to sleep because it allows our mind to calm down and not focus on struggles of daily living during a time when relaxation is needed. Starting out with a 3 or 5 minute guided meditation is most helpful because it allows the mind to build focus and understanding. Give this a try for approximately 7 days and see if there is a change in your sleep pattern, mood, or overall stress level.
2: Journaling - I have found this to be a helpful technique when we aren’t able to make sense of several thoughts or a situation. Writing down information allows me to better process what is happening and develop a plan to either continue with success, or to create a plan to change for the better. It also works as a form of emotional release if you are feeling as though there is no possibility of expressing yourself to someone else. Making the journal a bit decorative and unique can help you feel as though “this is my personal location for my thoughts and feelings and only I am allowed to know what is written”.
3: Exercise - This doesn’t necessarily mean going out to run 5 miles every day, which is how some people define “exercise”. Exercise can be as simple as mild movements, like stretching for example. Stretching helps relax tension within our muscles, which allows mental energy to flow better through our body. Movement also begins to release endorphins, which are “feel good” chemicals our body naturally produces to say “hey I like what you’re doing”. This also gives us the reinforcement to continue doing these behaviors to feel more positive about our well being. Getting a planner could be helpful with this activity because you can write down different exercises or stretches and develop a time frame to complete them.
These skills take practice to achieve satisfaction, so it’s okay if you’re not right where you want to be when you get started. Give yourself some time to develop a pattern of behaviors that work well for you and I think you’ll be surprised with what your mind is capable of teaching. The more practice you put into these activities, the more automatic your responses will become because your mind and body will recognize the positive aspects of your new journey. Throughout your exploration you’ll be able to find activities that work right for you.
About the author:
Bryan Schon, MA, LPC, NCC is a Licensed National Board-Certified Counselor helping teens and adults overcome anxiety and stress in Farmington, CT.
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