Steps to Help Ease Anxiety

As schools and businesses across the U.S. close their doors, anxieties about the disease and its impact increase as well. This economic impact is particularly palpable in college towns like Reading, MA, as colleges and universities begin to extend Spring Break or close their campuses in favor of online learning for the rest of the school year. Whether you work at a university or run a business that relies heavily on patronage from students or the university itself, adding stress about where your next paycheck will come from to your worries about how to stay safe and healthy is far from ideal. As a result, it’s a good idea to take time to focus on self-care during a stressful time. Here are 10 tips that will help you reduce your stress while you’re hunkered down at home.

1. Take a break from the news.

Constantly hearing conflicting stories about the pandemic can worsen your anxiety about it, especially if you’re seeing stories from websites that publish misinformation to get more views. As a result, it’s a good idea to limit how much attention you pay to the news; you want to be informed about what’s closing and what steps you should take to stay healthy, but decide how much news is healthy for you on a daily basis and try to stick to that. If you can’t escape from the news on social media because of your friends’ posts or suggested stories, you may want to limit how much time you spend there as well. When you do watch the news or read news articles, make sure it’s from a reliable source that’s giving valuable, trustworthy information.

2. Get moving with a little yoga.

Exercise is good for you in countless ways—helping you to stay fit, reducing your risk of future health conditions like heart disease, and even boosting your immune system. Recent studies have also shown that exercise can improve your mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. Even if you don’t have exercise equipment, you can practice yoga at home; it’s challenging and will get your heart rate up, but its emphasis on mindfulness can help ease your anxiety.

3. Relax with an activity you enjoy.

Spending time on your hobbies can be difficult during the fast pace of normal life, but if you find yourself with extra free time while self-isolating, dedicate some of it to relaxing activities like reading, watching TV, or painting. Distracting yourself with an activity you love can go a long way towards relieving your stress.

4. Talk to someone about your concerns.

If you’re struggling with a lot of stress, don’t be afraid to confide in a friend or family member you trust. They may be able to give you some helpful advice, but even if they can’t, simply putting your concerns or fears into words can often feel like a weight off your chest.

5. Take care of your body.

Whether you’re still working or stuck at home, it’s a good idea to pay extra attention to taking care of your body. This includes precautions like washing your hands often, but it also includes forming habits that will help keep you healthy throughout your life, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, committing to a regular oral hygiene routine, and ensuring that you get enough sleep. Seemingly small factors like this will help you feel healthier, happier, and more productive, and will actively boost your immune system.

6. Keep socializing with other people.

While social distancing is a big part of slowing the spread of the virus, it doesn’t mean you have to completely cut yourself off from people—in fact, doing so can make you feel more stressed out! Try to stay social by video chatting with your friends and family. There are even several websites that you can use to hold a remote game night, allowing you to have a fun, social night without leaving your house! Before you know it, you’ll be having a blast and taking a break from worrying thoughts, which will go a long way towards relieving your stress.

7. Practice meditation.

Meditation and breathing exercises are designed to help calm your mind and relax your body, so they’re a great way for you to relieve stress. They’re so popular that there’s a wide variety of apps, YouTube videos, and online articles you can use to guide yourself through each session.

8. Spend time with your pets.

If you have any pets, you probably know just how calming and mood-boosting it can be to spend time with them. Science even backs up the fact that pets like cats and dogs can significantly lower stress levels, anxiety, and depression while helping you feel less lonely. Spend time playing with them and letting yourself be goofy, or soak up cuddles on the couch—whatever works for you! Just a few minutes with your pet will likely help you feel much lighter and happier.

9. Start a gratitude journal.

With so much negativity going on in the news—and perhaps even in your own mind—gratitude journals are a great way to put life into perspective. At the end of each day, write down everything you can think of that you’re thankful for, from a nice text from a friend to having a healthy family. It’ll help center and relax you before bed, and you can look at it at the end of each year and remember blessings or acts of kindness you might have otherwise forgotten.

10. Dedicate time to planning and setting goals for yourself.

If you’re really stressed about how your business or personal finances will recover, you can set aside some time to make a plan and set a realistic goal for yourself. Be careful not to stress yourself out more or spend all of your time trying to problem solve, though; the goal is to relieve some of your stress by ensuring you have a game plan when life starts to resume more normal activities.

It’s natural to be a little stressed about the impact that the virus is having on our community, but there are steps you can take to ensure that it doesn’t overwhelm you. If you focus on self-care, keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy, and thinking positively, you’ll be ready to return to your normal routine.