How can I cope with anxiety?
A recent study done by Afriforte (MyCovid19Experiences© ) indicated that more than 80% of participants felt quite concerned to extremely concerned about the future. The study also showed some good news. Only 4 % of people indicated despair while 77% had decent levels of hope. ¹
The year 2020 became a year of ”change” when a virus appeared that turned our lives upside down. The top concerns of the participants in the Afriforte study were the economy of the country, childcare & schooling, family health and well-being and future career possibilities. People seeking help for problems since April 2020 on the MOBIEG platform has risen by 40% compared to the first 3 months of 2020 due to the impact of Covid. Most notably was the rise in levels of anxiousness.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. The type of anxiety people display during Covid is called pre-TSD, which is:
”a syndrome involving involuntary, intrusive images, and flash-forwards of haunting events that could be experienced because of a major disruption such as the Covid-19 pandemic.” ²
Symptoms of anxiety can be overthinking, excessive worrying, sore muscles, disruption in sleeping patterns, fatigue, irritability and difficulty in concentration. 65% of participants in the Afriforte study displayed moderate to high levels of physical distress.³
One of the most important findings of the study was that as hope increased, pre-TSD symptoms decreased.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dicksons, 1859.
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”
Hope has moved people out of untenable situations into better lives, and has helped humans stay alive long enough to figure out how to thrive.
Take active note of the messages your body is sending you. There is a message in there. It tells you something is wrong and that you have to give attention to it to find balance again.
Some people mistakenly think if they can control their outer world (work, family, finances), they can fix their inner world. Anxiety lies in your subconscious like a dormant volcano. It is a nagging, uncomfortable feeling of not being well or in control. The less you feel in control, the more anxious you feel. When the ”pressure becomes too much, it blows”. Too much stress can cause a flight and flight response. Symptoms can be dilated pupils, increased heart rate, sweating and alertness to get your body ready to protect yourself. It is advisable to learn how to control your anxiety before it reaches the point of a full-blown panic attack.
What can you do to cope with anxiety?
- Breath deep – till you calm down.
- Know that the current situation is temporary. A vaccine will be developed. Economies will recover and many new opportunities will arise from and after the pandemic. Governments will change.
- Focus on what you can control – sanitizing, wearing masks, limit your exposure to people, get enough sleep and exercise, be kind to yourself.
- Limit your exposure to news, social media and negative people – they tend to mostly spread negative news.
- Go for a walk or do some yoga to relax if you feel a panic attack looming.
- Enjoy aromatherapy to relax and to change your train of thought – lit a candle, use aromatherapy oils to massage your feet.
- Write down your thoughts in a journal. Write down the absolute worst-case scenario you can think of. Then write down the opposite of that. Question each scenario. Will other people see your problem the same way? What are the chances that what you fear will happen? Is there a solution to the problem? How does the way you think affect you?
- Make lists of the things that you worry about. Write down possible solutions for each. (Writing helps your mind to organise and process the clutter of thoughts and worries. It helps you get back a sense of being in control.) Be pro-active and draw up an action plan to deal with every problem. Tick off what you have dealt with every day.
- Do not watch suspenseful movies or series on TV if you struggle with anxiety – it can trigger a full-blown panic attack. Rather read a book.
- Stay in touch with family or friends via cell-phones, Zoom calls or chats. If you talk to them, stay away from Covid news and rather focus on funny tales and memories.
- Listen to calming music.
- Start a creative project. Creative activities can help focus the mind. It can be compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant.
- Do some routine exercises to refocus and destress, for example, a PACE exercise from Brain Gym
People often mistake a panic attack for a heart attack. Although there are many similarities – what are the main differences between the two?
HEART ATTACK vs PANIC ATTACK?
Note: If you are in doubt – you can go to your nearest emergency room for a check-up.
Chat to a counsellor on our helpline: LIVE CHAT
It is a text-based chat and you may remain anonymous.
References & Resources
COVID-19 and Employee Mental Health: The reality behind the rhetoric. Afriforte
- ¹ Pages 14-16
- ² Page 4
- ³ Page 19