What an unprecedented time. The spin off and ramifications of dealing with COVID is taking it’s toll on people that go beyond a cough, brain fog and fatigue.
Anxiety is at an all time high as well as depression (at least that is what I’m seeing in my practice). The 20-30 somethings seem to be hit especially hard. Their world has been rocked. In their youth most have not been thru any major medical issues and to hear and see this all around them is alarming. School which was originally about learning to be on their own was shut down and many forced to return home. Socialization was limited and therefore connections strained. The job market has completely shifted from companies buckling down and not hiring, sending their workers to work from home to gradually pulling them back in to the work place. A whole new level of anxiety gets kicked up with this for all involved, not just our youth.
As COVID lingers the stress and strain of our day to day continues to affect our mental health. Let’s take a moment to recenter. READ ON for 3 tips to help reduce anxiety and recenter.
- 1. Breathe: we forget this simple task can bring us back to the present. The best type of breathing for reducing stress is a belly breath. If you put your hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly right now and take a breath I would be willing to bet the hand on your chest is the one that rises the most. Along with that are your shoulders which only contributes to more stress. To break this take a deep breath and force your belly out to the count of 5. Hold it and then let it out slowly to a count of 5. Do this three times focusing on making your belly rise. Notice how your shoulders start to relax.
- 2. Focus on the present: I don’t like to journal but I know many of you do. For me, journaling simply means writing down what is bothering me to get it out and then I throw it away. Sometimes though we need to sit down and write out all the truths of good things we know. What do you know right now in this very moment? Are you warm? Do you have food in your refrigerator? Do you have a mode of transportation? Are you healthy? Do you have friends and family? Get back to the basics and you will find a plethora of things to be thankful for and focus on the present. Come back to these when your fear steps in. I read a book once and a tip they gave when anxious was focusing on the senses and I have shared that with you before but I love it so I will share again. Name one thing you can see – for example I see something red. Name one thing you can hear – I hear a car driving by. Name one thing you can taste – I taste salty. Name one thing you can smell – I smell bacon. Name one thing you can feel – I feel soft fur. This exercise forces you to focus on the present and keeps your mind from blowing up into all the fear of the unknown.
- 3. Exercise: I’m not talking about hitting the gym for an hour. A simple walk around your building can do the trick. Step outside (doesn’t have to be literally) and stretch. Reach your hands up to the sky while taking a deep breath and release them both. Do it again. March in place. Walk around the block. Take 10 minutes. Take 5. Take 1 – just focus on moving. Exercise has long been shown to reduce stress and decrease anxiety.
Stay present and focus on the moment you are in right now. We are making are way through this. There is no benefit of worrying about the future. One of my favorite lines of all time is in the movie Bridge of Spies. When asked if the spy was worried about what was going to happen to him his simple response was “would it help”. When you start going down that worry path- Take a belly breath, write out what is circling around in your mind and get moving and if you are still stuck with worry then recite those three little words “would it help” and let it go.
To your health,