5 Actionable Steps To Calm Anxiety & Stress During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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5 Actionable Steps To Calm Anxiety & Stress During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Self, Health And Wellness

If you're feeling the tension, you're not alone.

Anxiety is one of the most common health issues in society today. With almost 40 million adults in the US affected each year, keeping your mental health sound and stable is more important than ever. This is especially hard with the constant media excitement of contagion due to the pandemic currently happening with the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Keeping yourself from constant tension and panic-attack related stress can be overwhelming.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Stress Level Down & Immune System Up Until COVID-19 Is Contained

With heightened threats of a world outbreak, strain for all increases. Debilitating tension in the body, uncontrollable thoughts in the brain, and the defeatist attitude of, “Is there anything I can do?” throw everyone off their game.

It's as if life itself becomes a seemingly high alert or uncontrollable situation where nothing seems right, and little seems possible.

As a generalized disorder, anxiety may exhibit as relentless worry or anticipation. It may show as panic attacks where people lose their ability to take in a series of consistent deep breaths to offset the panic.

Or the high alert agitation state may produce obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Self-care and awareness are necessary factors for personal safety and security for events on the current horizon.

Creating workable schedules to help with anxiety, learning grounding techniques for calm, as well as eating healthy food and getting plenty of rest are some ways you can get through the crisis.

Otherwise, the energy within your anxious body will continue to pump up, thus broadcasting additional tension that leaves you feeling unsafe, unsure, or paralyzed with fear. It's time to feel more in control of life, which will provide you with a sense of self-responsibility that will boost your immune system and mental health.

Here are 5 actionable steps you can take to help calm stress and anxiety due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic concerns:

1. Develop a schedule and stick to it.

Anxiety exacerbates when you feel scattered and out of control. Daily changes in schedules, surprising new facts on closures, financial markets, and lifestyles certainly add to the chaos.

Creating a schedule can help accomplish meaningful tasks as you develop day-to-day routines and learn to proceed with the flow of ever-changing information.

Your calendar shows how capable you are, even under stress. Finding balance will help you comprehend what's essential at the moment.

As you create your schedule, break it down into these three ideas:

  • Consider personal care tasks that allow you to feel like a functional part of society, like getting up and going to bed at the same time. Set times for hygiene, healthy nutrition, pet care, and any other work-related responsibilities so you get these out of the way. Add in a period for rest, as it's necessary for anxiety as well as mental clarity and nervous tension. Create a routine that offers steadiness in your immediate environment.
  • Set times on the calendar to check your devices every few hours, rather than every few minutes. News blurbs, competitive video games, or social media can spike the energy to the nervous system, causing an uptake of cortisol. By limiting your amount of time on devices, you'll find time for creative endeavors to use up any excess energy or tension that builds from worry or frantic thoughts.
  • Make time on your calendar for natural fun or creative activities. The energy within your body arises for constructive use, not destructive unpleasantness or paralyzing fear. Finding something that can help you relax (i.e. coloring, drawing, writing, dancing, tai chi, learning a new language), or taking walks in nature all benefit the brain and body. These types of activities help you use excess energy for pleasure rather than allowing the excessive power to spiral out of control. Choose activities that enable you to feel safe and in control. Move your energy, be creative, and find ways to lessen rather than increase your worry.

2. Look for healthy ways to decrease hyperactivity in your nervous system

When anxiety or scattered thoughts arise, you hold your breath. And the more inhalation you have, the more pressure you build in the overall nervous system of your body.

To decrease the anxiety around the COVID-19 expansion, you have to seek meaningful and healthy ways to breathe and move; you have to exhale.

Exhalation reduces the amount of energy stuck in the diaphragm and lungs. Breathing out rather than in, or at least normalizing them toward balance, relaxes the muscles of the shoulders and neck, allowing the muscles to sit back into a nominal position where the ribcage and stomach function correctly.

Singing is excellent, as is laughing. If you find yourself with downtime, or if you find yourself feeling anxious, use comedies to help you laugh. Turn on the radio or stream your favorite songs to remind you of better times.

Classical music, in particular, can help decrease stress and anxiety.

RELATED: 40 Funny Coronavirus Memes To Help You Stop Panicking Over This Worldwide Pandemic

3. Do stretches to "ground" nervous energy

Posture is affected by anxiety. Rounded shoulders, tension in the neck and upper back, or slumping, are all signs that you're carrying stress in your head and chest area.

Any time energy is carried solely in the upper regions of the body, you'll feel off-center, anxious, and have unrealistic thoughts about your situation or condition.

Adding time for stretches that lengthen the spine, open areas around the base of the neck as well as the hips will decrease your anxiety. Doing these a couple of times a day will help you feel more grounded, more in control, and more confident.

Your hips are your center of gravity. When they're tight, you lose your ability to be grounded, making it impossible for you to have stability.

Opening the hip joints are integral to providing space for the energy to travel from the upper body to lower feet. Stretches like knee-to-chest pulls not only help open the hips, but also cause you to exhale excess air from the diaphragm — the very air keeping you panicked.

Other stretches to consider are slow-motion stretches, side bending stretches, yoga poses, and midsection twisting, which allow your energy to move. Marching in place is a great start.

If you're chair-bound, moving your arms, head, legs, ankles, and feet will help decrease your anxiety.

When you feel anxious, any passive and slow movement that allow you to breathe in and out evenly relaxes you.

4. Clean your own space with mindfulness

With any virus, cleaning is essential. And a clean home makes you feel alive, in charge, refreshed, and result-driven.

Taking charge of the things you can control and being responsible for keeping space neat and clean reduces the negative energy overwhelming you.

As part of your self-care program, a clean environment provides an “I can do it attitude,” that drives away the paralysis caused by anxiety or depression.

I'm not saying you have to get on your hands and knees to scrub every little crevice, but use everyday products you have available to wipe down countertops, appliances, and baths to feel accomplished each day.

It helps you and others around you to know you are doing all you can to divert the COVID-19 coronavirus in your home.

Cleaning is a way to move forward with life. It shows you take action and offers an opportunity to decrease anxiety. It's much better than sitting still where worry or anticipation arises.

5. Eat healthy foods to boost your immune system

Anxiety is fast-paced energy that overburdens you in a short matter of time.

Foods like potatoes (sweet preferably), carrots, onions, parsnips, or other foods that grow beneath the ground are good. You should also add foods high in vitamin C and D to help bolster your immune system.

More importantly, drink water, stay active, and maintain a healthy diet. Sugar, processed foods, excess carbohydrates, and alcohol are all potential enemies to your immune system, especially given the stress you're feeling.

Healthy foods, coupled with exercise and mood-boosting activities will help you feel calm and fight the stress and anxiety coming from news regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus.

For those who suffer from anxiety, it's imperative to look for the good that can come out of this coronavirus epidemic.

Yes, we will experience financial difficulties as events halt and workplaces close. Yes, we will see the need to limit our exposure to big crowds. And yes, we will have to look for ways to keep ourselves occupied in healthy manners should the virus creep near our home.

In the big scheme, maybe God and the universe are working to show us a new strategy for living and working to help find the priority for life and realize what's most important.

And maybe God is resetting the world by allowing us time to stop and breathe deeply — sort of like a "time out" to allow the pace of life to become more realistic and steady. Your perception of what's real or illusion creates lots of anxiety and panic.

Change occurs due to a pandemic or contagion such as a coronavirus or life crisis. Or it happens because you allow yourself to think in a new way and choose to change. The old ways of doing business no longer seem viable. Life is uncertain, and at this moment, the anxiety around the globe has spiked.

Currently, it appears the choice for change is out of your hands. Yet, when you choose to do the best you can, become self-responsible and reliable, you'll prioritize what is truly important. Only then can we learn to work together, so the events do not seem detrimental.

Maybe when we all band together to help each other, we find we can all make a difference in the world. Finding new ways to cope amid the coronavirus means finding ways to a new you, new normalcy, and a developing world around you.

Let’s find new ways to see each day as a way to become part of something outside the diagnosis, outside the possibility of sickness, and take steps toward progression for the years to come.

RELATED: How To Disinfect Your Home, Kill Germs & Avoid Contracting Coronavirus

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Susan Dykes is a spiritual counselor whose desire is to help each person see their way through the trials of the world. She can be reached via email with comments or questions.

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