Feeling Anxious or Overwhelmed?
Honor Your Feelings
It’s normal and expected to have feelings and reactions to the coronavirus outbreak. We might find ourselves actively trying to fight these feelings, which can be emotionally tiring. We encourage you to mindfully accept your feelings and reactions and then choose to behave and live in a way that is consistent with your morals and values. You have the choice to decide how you want to react to a situation. When you feel yourself experiencing negative emotions, don’t hold on to it, and within 90 seconds you will see that emotion fade away. The key is to not engage with the feeling, but rather acknowledge the feeling and let it pass.
Unplug. Learn to be in the Moment
Consider unplugging for a little and practice some mindfulness exercises if you notice yourself experiencing an increased level of stress or anxiety.
Guided Mindfulness Audio Exercises
- Mindfulness in Difficult Times
- Practicing Kindness
- Practicing Gratitude
- 10-Minute Body Scan
When you notice yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings, you can do a quick grounding exercise. Grounding exercises help calm our emotions and helps us connect with our internal and external world.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor.
- Feel the chair supporting you.
- Feel the chair you are sitting on and the floor underneath your feet.
- Notice your body. Feel the gravity flowing down through your head, spine, and legs into your feet.
- Look around your environment. Notice where you are and what you are doing. Notice what you can see and hear.
When we feel stressed or anxious, we may unconsciously begin to take shallow breaths. Find time during your day to do some deep-breathing. One of our favorite deep-breathing exercises involves breathing in for 5 seconds, holding it for 2 seconds, and slowly exhaling out. Repeating this a few times in a row and doing it regularly can help prevent panic attacks and unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety. You can also practice deep breathing by breathing in sync with this visual.
Practice self-soothing techniques to help relax your body and your mind. Each of your 5 senses can be used to soothe yourself, and you can also use movement.
- Vision – Look at a photo album; zone out to a poster/picture.
- Hearing – Listen to your favorite music and play it over and over again; play an instrument or sing; listen to a sound machine.
- Smell – Put on your favorite lotion; use a scented aftershave or body wash; make cookies or popcorn; smell freshly brewed coffee.
- Taste – Eat some of your favorite foods; drink your favorite non alcoholic beverage; have your favorite flavor of ice cream; really notice the food you eat; eat one thing mindfully; don’t overdo it!
- Touch – Take a long bath or shower; pet your dog or cat; brush your hair; hug or be hugged; put a cold cloth on your head; change into your most comfortable clothes.
- Movement – Rock yourself gently; stretch; do yoga; dance!
Moments like these can also bring out the best in people. Oftentimes when our nation experiences hard times, people work together to overcome it and be resilient. Don’t forget to count your blessings or areas in your life that you are grateful for. Creating a list of “Things I’m Grateful for…” is a good way to remind yourself of the good when things become difficult.
Maintain your social support network.
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with your loved ones. The relationships we have with family, friends, and significant others help us improve our mood and provide welcome distractions from our underlying concerns. Lending an ear to others can help you break the cycle of anxiety and feel good about supporting someone else. Get creative on how to connect with them. For example, you can play online games together (Words with Friends), host a virtual watch party or dinner party, or live-stream concerts together with your friends.