10 tips on how to cope with anxiety during the lockdown
Updated: Feb 19
I am not a specialist, but I have been living with anxiety for quite a while and can share the methods that helped me so far. The first week of lockdown in March was actually ok, it was fun to work from home something that I have never done before. Thinking as many that the pandemic shall pass quickly, tried to stay positive, but then when I realised it was there to stay it hit me. I had a small fever, I started to experience shortness of breath, thinking it might be covid or a heart attack. The symptoms stayed with me for a while ( I did an antibody test in June and there were no antibodies). Thankfully in 2016 I went through the course of CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which really helped during the pandemic.
Before I started CBT I had consistent thoughts of everything going wrong and ending really bad. Something like I would get hit by a car when I cross a road, a plane I am flying in will crash, full on spiralling. The thoughts picked up again during the first lockdown.
I went back to my notes from the past CBT sessions, I started to write down my thoughts as I did back then. I took A4 paper split into 6 columns Date| Situation| Thoughts|Emotions| Physical| Behaviour and started to record. It helped me to analyse what was triggering my anxiety. Also I scheduled worry time, a time when I can sit and indulge in worrying about everything.
As we are restricted to see anyone these days, kindly find my list of things you can do to keep yourself sane in this difficult time.
1. Wake up early
And go for a walk, good for your body and mind. Mornings are the best time to reflect and plan for better future, you get a chance for a new start every day.
You can’t underestimate the power of exercise. No one can deny the benefits of them. They are not only helping you to keep control of your weight, but they support your mental wellbeing. Just 5 min will take you a long way. It is all about power of a habit, the more you do it the more you get into it. Jumps have been the most effective as they stimulate your blood flow and distract from being focused on your anxiousness.
Deep breathing helps to calm the anxiety. When you are stressed you stop breathing properly, very often you shorten your breath and do not get enough oxygen. Inhaling on 4 counts exhaling on 6 counts worked for me.
4. Write down your thoughts and experiences.
The first thing I learnt during my CBT is to keep a track of my thoughts and experiences. You can start a journal following the below format to track how you felt and when. It might also help to flush out some triggers on which you can work on later.
Date| Situation| Thoughts| Emotions| Physical| Behaviour
5. A walk.
I think many of us picked up walking in pandemic. As it was basically the only thing we could do outside our houses. Walk or exercise. I always liked to walk, it is a combination of both exercise and a meditation. I walk and listen to music, podcasts or an audio book.
6. An activity
Like cleaning or gardening. I find it meditational. You just focus on the actions you do, no overthinking, you are in a flow. Tidy home, tidy mind. After few hours of work you feel physically tired, but mentally relaxed.
Listening to music elevates your mood and helps to keep your anxiety at bay. Dancing is even more helpful as you are not only plunging into relaxing reality listening to favourite tunes but also exercise, improving your wellbeing and boosting confidence.
8. Listen to a podcast.
Podcasts have been there for a while, but somehow I am only getting into them now. I have discovered podcasts I like about self growth and I usually listen them on my walks. It is helpful to find the one you like, it will distract you and you might even learn something new or just have fun listening to fun stories.
9. Watch a comedy or your favourite comedian.
Anything that would make you smile or even better to laugh out loud. Sometimes you just need some external humour to bring you back to your senses and to your fun side.
So much been said about meditation, and it is because it works. Again it sounds easy but it was not for me, I did not know how and where to start. In summer 2020 I downloaded an app with guided meditation and never looked back, listening to it almost every day.
Eat healthy, drink enough water, get fresh air and try to have some fun.
If you feel you can't cope seek professional help by booking an appointment with your GP, it is great place to start.
Take care of yourself