Coping skills are a powerful way to manage and thrive in the face of health anxiety. Firstly, it’s important to validate that increased anxiety as a result of a stressful health crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic makes total sense. Second, you are not alone! Many people are struggling with anxiety. Below are ten coping skills you can practice to help yourself through this challenging time and decrease your anxiety.
1. Be intentional about your news and social media consumption
Set parameters about how often you check the news and your social media feeds. Mindfully choose sources of information that are educational and help you make empowered, informed decisions; rather than fear-based articles. Unfollow accounts that are only posting cynical or provocative information.
2. Check-in with your body
When you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to pause and notice where you are holding the anxiety in your body. Put a hand on that part of your body, close your eyes, and take a few slow, deep breaths, allowing the sensation to release and soften into your hand.
3. Listen to calming guided meditations
Download a meditation app or search YouTube for grounding meditations for anxiety or meditations to enhance your immune system. Get comfortable. Even if the anxious thoughts are still there, continue to bring your attention back to the soothing voice and allow your body to relax.
4. Empower yourself by boosting your immune system
Take your vitamins and immunity-boosting herbal supplements, hydrate, eat well, rest, exercise, absorb sunshine. These are aspects of your health you can control.
5. Enlist the support of a trusted loved one or friend
Reach out and talk to a trusted loved one about your thoughts and feelings. Notice if talking about the topic decreases your anxiety or increases it. If it starts to grow, agree to talk about another topic that has nothing to do with it instead.
6. Volunteer to help someone in need
Being of service to others calms the nervous system. How can you be of service? For instance, if you know an older person who can’t leave their home and doesn’t know how to use the internet, offer to order their groceries for them online.
7. Use mantras or prayer
Find a mantra or prayer that resonates with you and helps you feel calm when you say it. Some examples of mantras are; “I am safe,” “I am well,” “This too shall pass.” Many find the serenity prayer helpful: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Take a few slow deep breaths and say the mantra or prayer either to yourself or aloud, allowing your shoulders and body to release tension each time.
8. Go for a walk or a jog
Move your body in a way that feels good to you. Feel your feet grounded on the earth with each step. Breathe in the fresh air. Give gratitude to your body. Notice all of the beauty you pass on the way, whether it’s the sky, birds, trees, etc.
Journaling can help you get your worried thoughts and feelings out of your head and body. Allow yourself to free journal and just let everything flow out. You can then follow that up with journaling a gratitude list of 10 things you are grateful for.
10. Check-in with a therapist
Reach out to your therapist for a check in to get support. If you don’t have a therapist ask for a recommendation from someone you know or explore a webpage like psychology today to find one.
Remember, you are not alone. There are a lot of people and resources out there to help you through this. Seek them out and reach out for support!