If your emotions have been running high lately, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly normal to get anxious when the future is uncertain and you’re closed off from the outside world, alone with your thoughts all day. But things will get better, and you can start feeling better now by following these tips to ease your anxiety.
Focus on what you can control
You may not be able to control when you’ll go back to work or see your family, but throwing yourself into whatever you can control — perhaps home projects, or preparations for your future work life — will help take your mind off the things you can’t.
“Stress and anxiety are directly related to feelings of loss of control, so by shifting our thinking to ‘we can control this moment,’ it empowers us and reduces stress,” says Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, psychologist and integrative mental health expert.
Use essential oils
“Essential oils can affect both the brain and body,” says Capanna-Hodge. “As the molecules reach the brain, they affect several regions, including the limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, our memory, and attentional systems, our hormone and immune systems, and [it can also] lower cortisol and stress levels. Using essential oils throughout the day is an easy way to keep stress levels low.” Several essential oils including lavender and bergamot are used specifically for stress relief.
Make a list of your worries
It might sound counterintuitive, but letting your mind imagine all the worst-case scenarios it’s afraid of can actually help you see how unlikely they are. Katie Lear, a licensed therapist specializing in anxiety, recommends trying the “downward arrow” technique.
“Write down your worry and then ask yourself, ‘What is the worst possible outcome of this?’” she suggests. “Keep repeating the question and writing each subsequent answer on the page until you have a list of increasingly terrible outcomes. When you reach the bottom, you’ll probably have landed on some totally outlandish nightmare scenario that would obviously never happen in real life. By exaggerating the worry and taking it to its natural conclusion, it gets easier to see the flaws in your worry in the first place.”
Stick to a schedule
“When we feel overwhelmed, it is so easy to lose our sense of routine and forget the things that make us feel good, but having the schedule already planned is a way to avoid the sense of uncertainty,” says Ali Hamroff, a psychotherapist in New York City.
Hamroff suggests making a list of things you want to accomplish before the quarantine is over and holding yourself accountable for them. It also helps to schedule your meals and invite other people to virtually eat with you to retain some semblance of normalcy.
Limit your exposure to news and social media
Thinking about the current situation all the time can get you down, says Hamroff, so try to limit how often you check the news and social media. And if the people you speak to are talking about it all the time, you can always tell them you’d rather talk about something else.
xx, The FabFitFun Team