I know I’m not alone in saying that my anxiety is at an all-time high, particularly when it comes to my health. With everything going on in the world right now, the threat of illness is ever-present and downright terrifying and the panic that instills can sometimes be debilitating. However, I’m determined not to let it beat me and you shouldn’t let it overwhelm you either. Here are some simple ways to cope and will hopefully help.
- Accept that how you’re feeling is normal. If you feel like the world is falling apart and you’re powerless to stop it, recognize that you’re far from the only person in that boat. Even the most logical and calm people are experiencing high anxiety right now—you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t concerned. One of the biggest ways you can bring your anxiety down is by accepting it as normal and okay.
- Take a break from the news. Anxiety can make us fixate on things even when we know they’re only making us feel worse. For the last week or so, I was keeping The Guardian’s live blog up which updated every few minutes with all the new stats about what’s happening right now and while I told myself that I just wanted to be up-to-date, I was really fixating on something that was only freaking me out more. Close the tab, put down your phone or laptop, and walk away. It will save your sanity.
- Get your body moving in whatever way feels good. It’s one of the most cliche pieces of advice you’ll ever receive but that’s because it’s true: exercise in whatever form you choose will help your mental health tremendously. For me, it’s going out for a run or doing a hard session on the stationary bike we bought after we stopped going to the gym last week. Maybe for you, it’s yoga or aerobics videos on YouTube. Whatever works for you, make it work for you.
- Relax your body with herbal teas and hot baths/showers before bed. Sleep is so important, yet it’s one of the first things that suffers when our anxiety is high. Try to make getting rest a little easier for your body by enjoying a nighttime tea with valerian root or chamomile in it and enjoy a long bubble bath or even a shower to relax you before climbing in between the sheets. It just might help, as does reading a bit before bed!
- Let it all out. Anxiety builds when we keep it all in. Whether you want to confide in a friend, parent, or other loved ones about your health anxiety (0r any anxiety for that matter!) or you simply want to write it all out in a journal, don’t keep it pent up inside. Giving voice to those worries can do wonders for allowing your heart and head to let them go.
- Keep your hands busy. If you’re stuck in the house most of the day, which will increasingly become the case for all of us over the coming weeks and months, you need to find a way to stay busy. While work and chores might take up part of your day, try to find a hobby that occupies your hands and requires concentration and/or dexterity. Maybe try jigsaw puzzles or knitting or even start that DIY project you’ve been putting off for ages. Anything to keep your mind busy will help you cope with health and any other kind of anxiety.
- Go offline for a while. The internet is great in so many ways, but it can also be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to cope with serious health anxiety. News (as well as fake news) is absolutely everywhere at the moment and it won’t do anything but make your anxiety worse. Trust me, I know this from experience. Shut the laptop, put your phone in the other room, and try to disconnect from the constant barrage of info for a while. You’ll be glad you did.
- Spend some time in the sunshine. This is obviously easier if you live somewhere that has a back yard, courtyard, or even a little greenery out front. While you’ll want to avoid big groups that might hang out at the local park, try heading outside for a walk early in the morning or later in the evening when not as many people are around. Getting some fresh air in your lungs is so important and you’ll feel much better for it.
- Stick to the facts. There is a lot of scaremongering out there, from random social media posts from trolls to sensationalists headlines that offer little in the way of actual truth. When you do come across particularly triggering things online, do your due diligence to see if there’s scientific fact behind what you’re reading and if there’s not, put it out of your mind. Easier said than done, of course, but the more you try, the easier it will be to cope with your health anxiety.