Coping with Pandemic Anxiety

We are living in unprecedented and challenging times. Most of us have faced nothing like this before, certainly never as a collective, and the strain of each day can compound and erode wellbeing. A common emotion people are struggling with is the feeling of anxiety. So, what is anxiety, and what can we do about it?

Anxiety is a sense of fear that is persistent and pervasive, and chronic. Fear is a normal human response to a threat and every time the brain detects a threat, you feel fear. This can trigger the release of stress hormones that push the body to a state of fight or flight. When the threat is real and identifiable, the heightened state can feel appropriate or even helpful and prod you into addressing the threat. However, if the danger is ambiguous or the world seems uncertain, the brain thinks about a host of various threats, and that sense of fear becomes continuous or persistent. 

When this happens, you experience not just fear, but constant worry, overthinking, difficulty sleeping, irritability and impatience, body aches and pains, decreased short-term memory, and impaired focus and concentration. If this state continues, you may even experience secondary depression, which triggers feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. However, there are some simple and effective ways to prevent and manage the onset of anxiety. Integrating them into your routine could offer relief and clarity. Let’s see what those are.

1. Sleep - sleep is restorative, so look to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night

2. Diet - a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet plays a significant role in your emotional wellbeing

3. Exercise - try to exercise at least five times a week, even if just a walk for 30-minutes a day

4. Yoga and Pranayama - these ancient practices have proven to be effective in furthering a sense of mental wellbeing

5. Meditation - learning how to meditate can help you still your mind, bring your attention to the present moment, and come away from imagined fears

These routines can improve your sense of calm and wellbeing, but if you continue to experience feelings that are hard to manage, seek professional help. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength when you look within.

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