Updated: Mar 25, 2020
This is a difficult period for us all with the ever changing environment that Coronavirus is imposing on us.
-Fear of the unknown
-Not having Control over things
All lead to a fear for our safety and so its natural to feel anxious when this happens.
By accepting this is the climate we live in at the moment and learning to live a New Normal within the confines of this you will enable yourself to feel safer.
Normal is usually a safe place for us to be, but at the moment our normal is ever changing so your New Normal is adapting to this.
Feeling safe enables us to calm down our anxiety, but at this time finding ways to feel safe can be a challenge.
As a counsellor who specialises in working with Anxiety and Panic and an Anxiety UK approved therapist I have an understanding of what anxiety is and how to manage anxiety.
So here are 3 tips to help you manage your anxiety through this time.
1. Practice Deep Breathing and Relaxation techniques
Learning to relax and calm yourself is very important at this time.
Your brain and body constantly send signals to each other which help you survive,.
When they sense that you are in danger the Parasympathetic Nervous system will switch on your Fight or Flight Mode.
In simple terms this means any messages your brain receives about thoughts of you being in danger or messages from your body, such as tension, that you are in danger, then it gets you ready to fight your enemy or run away from your enemy.
To do this you get an adrenaline rush which enables your body to prepare for this fight or flight. If you have nothing to physically fight or run away from the adrenaline is still causing bodily changes in preparation for this.
Heart pumping blood faster around your body so your heart is beating faster and harder
Breathing quicker to take in more oxygen to activate your muscles
Blood is pumping to major organs, not your extremities, so you get pins and needles
Blood is diverted away from your digestive system giving you an empty or butterflies in stomach feeling or nausea.
Your digestion shuts down so you can't eat and so you get a dry mouth
Anxiety is usually accompanied by these, and other, physical symptoms because of this.
If you practice regular deep breathing and relaxation techniques it serves 2 purposes
Being tense will be interpreted by your brain as danger to yourself and so it will kick in your fight or flight. Being in a relaxed state will prevent this from happening.
. If your fight or flight does kick in your brain wants messages you are safe to turn off your fight or flight so you need to calm down all the above symptoms.
By regularly practicing deep breathing and relaxation you will become better at relaxing and being able to calm yourself down quicker if fight or flight does kick in.
2. REDUCE YOUR INFORMATION OVERLOAD
In the world we live in today we have access to information 24/7.
24 hour television
Sometimes its difficult to know which news is 'Real', we've all heard about 'Fake News'
You may think that by getting as much information as you can you will be able to ensure you do the right things and have all the information you need to keep safe.
In fact you are doing the opposite, your brain is unable to process all this information and becomes overwhelmed. This feeling of being overwhelmed will lead to you feeling more unsure and this will lead to you feeling threatened by it all.
What happens when you feel threatened? Your fight or flight will kick in because your brain will believe you are in danger.
So limiting your information intake to the relevant and important information only is important.
Watch the News Once a day
Limit your social media use
Turn off 24 hour news feeds
Beware of 'Fake News'
Limit your intake to what is important and relevant
3. Focus on the Here and Now
I am sure you have heard this before, but it is excellent advice.
By focusing on the here and now you can focus on what is important to you in the current moment, if you focus on this you have more control. Having control helps to reduce your anxiety.
If you have reduced your information intake and focus on what you can have control of, live each day focusing on what you can do that day.
Unfortunately we are unable to control what might happen in the future, but by focusing on doing the things we can control day by day we put ourselves in a better position to deal with what the future might hold.
All those 'What If's' come from worrying about what could or might happen, but try as you might you will be unable to get into a time machine to fix them.
However you can keep control of what you do day to day to keep you safe, listening to the latest advice and putting it into practice to minimise your risk.
By implementing these 3 tips you can learn a New Normal and live by it, sending signals to your brain and body that you are safe.
That feeling of safety prevents the adrenaline rush and the fight or flight survival mode and so your anxiety reduces.
If you would like more information please read my other blogs on my website or visit my Facebook page SeeClear Counselling for more useful tips and hints.
Laura Knight Dip.Couns MBACP is an experiened and qualified counsellor and CBT therapist who runs her own private practice SeeClear Counselling in Poole Dorset.
She is an Anxiety UK approved Therapist and specialises in working with anxiety and Panic Attacks