Simple steps to worry less
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We are living in unprecedented times. Isolated in our homes, distanced from friends and family, and a loss of routine, anxiety is on the rise. It’s human nature to worry and those with existing issues are particularly vulnerable, but in an ever-changing world, what can we do to ensure our worries aren’t all consuming?
According to Anxiety UK (anxiety.org.uk), almost one in five people feel anxious a lot of the time, with half of us feeling more anxious than we used to. ‘We’re seeing a spike in calls, be that due to isolation, worries about the disease [Covid-19] or the effects that this will have on life following this. Fearing being “out of control” and “being unable to tolerate uncertainty” are actually common characteristics of many anxiety disorders,’ they reveal.
The impact of feeling fearful is restless sleep, fear of going into public spaces, increased heart rate and obsessions with illness. With news now accessible 24-hours, it’s not surprising that the World Health Organisation has advised people to avoid watching, reading or listening to news that is causing distress and seek information from reputable websites like the NHS rather than relying on ‘Dr Google’.
Try these other techniques to minimise your worries:
Recognise that anxiety is normal
Try and work out your triggers and understand what makes you anxious, advises Gerard Barnes of Smart TMS, which treats patients with extreme anxiety. ‘These can be anything from raised voices at home to stress at work, anything that puts your brain into a certain state. It’s typically stress situations and this year has been a big stress situation for everyone.’
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Coping mechanisms proven to reduce anxiety levels include mindfulness – focusing on the present moment and relaxation techniques such as meditation. Incorporate a few minutes a day into your daily routine – apps like Headspace will help.
Look after your physical health
Eating a healthy diet and exercising have a positive impact on your mental health and going for a walk is good for you on many levels. ‘It gets you out into nature, which is a good way of relieving stress and brings you into the moment as opposed to being in your head,’ says Gerard.
Keep in touch with loved ones
Social isolation can also have an impact. We are a social species and being tactile and in touch with each other is an important part our lives. Social media has an awful lot to answer for, but technology has also shown the positive side with Zoom and Facetime connecting families. ‘Find ways to comfort yourself if you are feeling anxious – perhaps by connecting with a friend or family member. Try to keep your mind stimulated as much as possible by reading books, listening to podcasts or doing puzzles,’ says Stephen Buckley of mental health charity Mind.
Worry about the things you can control and don’t worry about things you can’t. Understand you are not alone and remember the phrase: ‘and this too shall pass’.