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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Keefe

#Coronavirus: Coping with #Anxiety - Dance, Breathe, Switch-Off the News...

Everyone is feeling the pressure at the moment - here are some simple ideas to help you manage you anxiety over the weeks and months of #Selfisolation

Dance! If you’re feeling down, a few minutes dancing to your favourite tunes lifts your spirits and is an easy way to get some:

Exercise – keeping fit, especially keeping your cardio fitness up or improving it, will help keep you physically healthy, lift your mood and help reduce anxiety: there are loads of home workout videos on You tube if you need ideas but you can also:

Move – don’t sit still all day – keep getting up and moving about regularly – walking up and down the stairs / doing housework / stretching – all of these things will help with your mood and be good for your back (sitting down all day has the opposite effect!)


Sit somewhere comfortable and spend a few minutes breathing slowly and deeply: breath in through the nose for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and breath out through the mouth for three seconds. Place a hand on your stomach and breath until you feel you hand rising – this shows you are breathing down into your diaphragm. Breathing like this slows everything down and relieves the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Ground yourself:

Again, sitting comfortably, with your feet firmly on the floor: send your attention down into your feet. Notice what they feel like within your shoes. Feel your feet being pulled into the ground by gravity. Notice the feel of settling into the chair, the wait of your arms on the arm rests, your back against the back of the chair. Enjoy the lovely feeling of being held by gravity on the chair. Staying in contact with this feeling, notice what you can hear, in the room and outside, listen to the sounds, focus on them, count how many sounds you can hear. Now look around the room or space you are in – look at the objects within the room but really look at them: notice what they are made of, their colours, how old they are, where they are worn or faded, look at the patterns on carpets, the colours in pictures, the grains on wood. Notice any scents or smells in the room.

This exercise is very calming if you have anxious thoughts, bringing you into back into the present by engaging your senses.

Avoid the news – restrict access to social media, radio, TV, newspapers – maybe just once a day to keep up-to-date on the situation.

Distract yourself from worrying thoughts: if you find yourself worrying, imagine you can put the thoughts in a box to be opened for a ten minute “worry time” at a set time of day. Ask yourself – what is the evidence its true? Where is the evidence it’s not true? How can I think about this differently? What can I do to help reduce this worry?

Remember by staying at home you are helping to reduce the spread of the virus – the more people stay at home, the sooner the spread of the virus will slow down and stop and we can all get back to normal.

Treat yourself – watch films / box-sets / listen to music ( Dance!) read books (this all helps with distraction from worrying thoughts.

Sort things out in your house or flat – gives you a sense of making use of time: make a list of all the things you have wanted to do in your flat for ages but haven’t got round to them and see how many you can get done.

Keep a Routine: you may find yourself tempted to become a night-owl, watching Netflix all night and sleeping all day – you will miss out on daylight and also find it harder to get back to normal once the pandemic ends: getting up around the usual time (allow yourself a bit of a lie-in – see Treats, above), showering, getting dressed – simple things which will help you feel better.

Make plans for fun things you can do when the virus has passed and life gets back to normal.

Talk to the people you live with, (if you live with people), about what it’s going to be like sharing a small space together – how can you help each other to feel comfortable and get through the experience: Don’t be afraid to tell people when you need your own space for a bit but also let each other know what your worrying signs are, the signs you might be struggling and what you can do to help.

Reach out to friends / family if you live alone - you can’t catch Coronavirus over the internet, so make use of Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout etc to keep in touch with loved ones / share experiences, ideas, feelings.

Learn a new joke every day and tell it to someone.

Nourish yourself – eating healthily – a balanced diet, plenty of fruit and vegetables, not too much sugar, fat and salt – but enough protein and complex carbohydrates (brown bread, wholemeal pasta) – will help keep your mood stable. And not too much coffee: too much caffeine, especially in the afternoons, adds to stress and anxiety and disrupts sleep.

Sleep well: spending all day at home, you will get a lot less physical activity than usual and burn off less energy, so may find it a bit harder to sleep, so remember all the points above – keeping active, drinking less caffeine, less screen time, are all good for sleep hygiene and sleeping well will help your mood.

Breathe Fresh air – if you can get out even for a few minutes into a garden or balcony, without too much contact, then do so – even opening a window and feeling the breeze on your face will help.

Talk to neighbours – if you can find safe ways to talk to your neighbours, over the garden fence, from a balcony or through a window (and do this safely, remembering to keep a distance), this really will help.

Clean and tidy – just as with self-care, it will help you feel better to be in an ordered and clean space.

Choose – Make choices over the areas of your life which you can still control, to retain a sense of agency.


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