You cannot escape it, every time you turn on the news or look at your social media feed there it is: more news about COVID-19. Maybe you started feeling a bit less anxious about the pandemic, but now it appears that cases are skyrocketing again. and that anxiety is setting in even more now.
First of all, know that you are not alone and that it is completely ok to feel anxious! The American Psychiatric Association recently released a poll indicating that "nearly four in ten Americans (40%) are anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from coronavirus, but far more Americans (62%) are anxious about the possibility of family and loved ones getting coronavirus." This is an unprecedented time and there is a lot of unknown when it comes to COVID-19, so it is to be expected that you will feel some anxiety as a result. After all, we are likely living during a once in a lifetime event! In this article, we will cover some techniques that you can use to cope with and manage how you are feeling.
1. Limit media including the news and social media
We live in the information age where information is constantly bombarding us whether we want to digest it or not. Limiting your access to this media is especially important if you struggled with anxiety and worry prior to the start of the pandemic. A good tip is to schedule the amount of time you are spending consuming media for the day or the week. Regularly check in with yourself after media consumption, compare how you felt prior to reading or watching to how you feel afterwards. If you experience an increase in anxiety, reevaluate your schedule and try exposing yourself to less media going forward.
2. Focus on what you can control
Let's face it, there is not much that you can control when it comes to COVID-19, which can send your anxiety into a tail spin. A good technique to use is to focus on what you can control instead often times action can feel like an antidote to anxiety. This includes following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines available here. These guidelines include washing your hands often for 20 seconds, social distancing with 6 feet or more between yourself and others who are not in your household, among other recommendations. Read the CDC guidelines link for more information.
3. Stay connected
Social distancing should really be called physical distancing. Now it is more important than ever to maintain close social relationships even if you cannot see each other face to face. Take advantage of technology to maintain friendships and connect with those you care about most. Here are some ideas on how to maintain social relationships despite the coronavirus:
4. Start a regular mindfulness meditation practice
Mindfulness meditation is a good place to start as it does not require a teacher and can be practiced alone. There are several YouTube videos that you can use for free to try such as the ones listed below:
5. Take a mindful walk around your neighborhood
Mindfulness does not just have to include sitting still and breathing deep, take your mindfulness practice on the go with a mindful walk around your neighborhood! Leave your earbuds at home and lace up your comfy shoes. As you walk, utilize all five senses to keep yourself in the here and now. Observe 2-3 things per sense.
6. Start a gratitude journal
Begin keeping a gratitude journal once or twice a week. Such a journal can serve as a good reminder that there are still things to be grateful despite COVID-19. Not all gratitude journals are created equal, in order for yours to make the most impact, check out these tips on how to keep a gratitude journal.
When is it time for professional help?
Feeling anxious during the coronavirus is completely normal, even after you started feeling a bit better. Be patient with yourself and try some of the above techniques to manage your anxiety. If you are not improving, it is probably time to talk to a trained professional to process your anxiety. You do not have to suffer alone. If you live in the State of Texas and are interested in video counseling, Seeds of Change Counseling would be happy to help, call us for a free phone consultation to see if we are a fit at 512-676-5813.
We have all heard how important exercise is for our physical health. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Besides benefiting our physical health, exercise is also extremely beneficial to our mental health. In this article, we will explore the mental health benefits to exercise.
Anxiety disorders are common in the United States, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) indicates that 40 million adults age 18 and older (18.1% of the US population) are affected by anxiety disorders annually (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics). The ADAA reports that 16.1 million adults over the age of 18 (6.7% of the US population) suffer Major Depressive Disorder in a given year.
Most of us have noticed that a brisk walk outside or a jog around the block can lift our mood, but what does the science say about exercise and mental health?
Exercise's effect on the brain
Exercise can enlarge certain areas of the brain by improving blood supply that increases neuron health through improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients. One of the areas that enjoys this effect is the hippocampus. This area of the brain is responsible for memory, emotional regulation, and learning. Studies completed in other animals show that exercise leads to the creation of new neurons. Research also shows that several mental health conditions, especially depression, are associated with lower amounts of growth and development of nervous tissue in the hippocampus.
Where to turn when you need additional help?
If you struggle with a major depressive or anxiety disorder, exercise along may not be enough. You will likely need help from mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist and therapist. If you live in the State of Texas, Seeds of Change Counseling Center is offering video counseling during this time of pandemic. Call us at 512-676-5813 for a free counseling consultation to see if we would be a good fit!
You are getting that feeling again - impending doom, you are scared of losing control or even death, your heart is racing, and you are shaking. It has happened again, another panic attack. Panic attacks strike when we want them to least, and often times we feel powerless against them. In this article, we will review five ways that you can cope with your panic attack.
You have heard it a million times when you are feeling anxious. "Focus on taking some deep breaths." It sounds so basic, so the question is, does it really work? In this article, we will review what affect deep breathing has on anxiety and if it really works.
Breathing is something that we rarely think about but just happens. On average, most people take between 17,280 and 23,040. That is a lot of breaths that happen without us paying attention! How could something that happens so often and automatically help our anxiety?
Not all breathing is created equal!
When we are stressed or anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and irregular. Our breath during these times also becomes more focused in our chest rather than our stomachs and the chest cavity can only expand so far. What our bodies and minds really need during times of anxiety and stress is deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing). This type of breathing moves more air flow into the body and actually helps calm nerves.
How does deep breathing work?
The key to understanding how deep breathing works lies in the nervous system. Let's take a quick anatomy tour. Your autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary actions like your heart rate and digestion) is made up of two parts. The first part is the sympathetic nervous system, this system controls your fight or flight response (hello anxiety!). The second part is the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your rest and relax response. These two systems cannot be activated at the same time meaning that if your fight or flight response is lighting up like a Christmas tree your rest and relax response is no where to be found.
Breathing deeply delivers more carbon dioxide to your blood which calms parts of the brain that handle your anxiety response such as the amygdala.
So it turns out that not all breathing works to calm your anxiety, only deep breathing can calm you down. Breathe in... Breathe out...
If you need help with your anxiety and would like to explore counseling, please call us at 512-676-5813 for a free therapy phone consultation today to see if we might be a fit.
A question that I hear often from clients is whether they are nervous or if they are struggling with anxiety. In this article, we will explore nerves and anxiety in more depth.
What is the difference between anxiety and nervousness?
Nervousness can be described as a worry about a specific event that usually passes. On the other hand, anxiety is a constant state of excessive worry or fear which often affects work, school, and relationships.
How do you handle it when you are anxious?
There are several techniques that you can try when you feel like you are drowning in anxiety. Here are 3 techniques to choose that can help calm your anxiety.
Anxiety can usually be traced back to an underlying issue, even if you cannot put your finger on it yourself. Counseling is great for exploring these underlying issues. I see plenty of clients who are going through a difficult transition in life, have experienced trauma, or have additional stress that need a place to process and gain insights which reduce the intensity of anxiety. I always tell clients that the relationship with the counselor is the most important part of the counseling process, so make sure that you feel comfortable with your therapist. Do not be afraid to try another counselor if it does not feel like a good fit.