As we near the end of another year, it’s likely that we all reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of 2018. And for many people, one of the major themes of reflection has to do with anxiety. If you’re like most people, you probably experience anxiety from time to time.
But what if that anxiety had a voice? What if it controlled your thoughts and actions? This is exactly what pandemic anxiety feels like. It’s a type of anxiety that can be caused by any number of things (like a terrorist attack), and it can absolutely wreak havoc on your life. If you’re dealing with pandemic anxiety, here are five ways to manage it.
Understand the Types of Anxiety
There are different types of anxiety, and it can be difficult to know which type you have. Here’s a breakdown of the different types:
Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent panic attacks, during which sufferers experience extreme fear or discomfort.
Acute stress disorder is a condition that results from exposure to an unusually intense or terrifying event, such as the death of a loved one or being involved in a natural disaster.
Generalized anxiety disorder is marked by excessive worry and tension across multiple areas of life.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts (e.g., fear of germs) that cause significant distress or impairment.
Understand the Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety is a common problem that can affect anyone. The causes of anxiety vary from person to person, but there are some common factors that may contribute. Here are some ways to manage anxiety:
1. Understand the cause of your anxiety. If you know what triggers your anxiety, you can learn how to avoid those things or deal with them in a way that is manageable for you.
2. Be aware of your body and how it’s responding to stress. If you’re feeling anxious, try to take notice of how your body is reacting physically. This will help you determine if there’s something specific you need to address (such as eating a healthy meal or getting enough sleep) and give you some insights into why anxiety is affecting you in this way.
3. Talk about your anxiety with someone else who understands it. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or family member who understands and supports you can be very helpful in managing anxiety.
4. Try complementary treatments such as yoga, meditation, or acupuncture to help ease symptoms of anxiety. There is always something out there that can help improve your overall wellbeing!
Identify your Response Patterns to Anxiety
If you’re like most people, you experience anxiety in different ways at different times. Here are some of the most common response patterns:
1. Reacting to Normal Stress
If something catches your attention and makes your heart rate spike, that’s normal. When it comes to anxiety, it’s important to remember that stress is just one way the brain responds to a threat or challenge. Other common responses include feeling tense and restless, being easily frustrated or overwhelmed, and having trouble concentrating or making decisions.
2. Reacting to Anxiety-Related Thoughts
One of the main problems with anxiety is that thoughts can constantly generate more anxiety. When anxious thoughts make their way into your mind, they can feel like they’re reality and provoke powerful physical reactions like shaking or nausea. The best way to deal with anxious thoughts is by practicing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches you how to challenge and reframe negative thoughts so they don’t trigger a reaction.
3. Checking In on Every Single Part of Your Body
When you’re feeling anxious, it can be hard to focus on anything else except for the fear racing through your mind. One of the ways your brain tries to cope is by focusing on every tiny Detail in your environment—that includes everything from your breathing to the sound of your own heartbeat. This body scanning can lead to muscle tension and increased feelings of anxiety.
Use relaxation techniques
There are a number of techniques that can be used to help manage anxiety during a pandemic. Some people find it helpful to do relaxation exercises before bed. Others find that reading or listening to calming music helps them to sleep. Taking breaks throughout the day and evening can also help reduce levels of anxiety. It is important to find what works best for you and to use these techniques consistently throughout the pandemic in order to have the most success.