Tips for Managing Anxiety During a Crisis
We are living in an unprecedented time and so many of us are feeling the weight of anxiety. These tips for managing anxiety may help alleviate some of the stress you are feeling.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional – this is all my personal opinion and the opinions of other non-professionals. The information on this site is never intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a medical provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific health situation. If you are feeling completely overwhelmed or have thought of suicide please call 911 or call or chat with the Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255 or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
It’s no secret that the whole world is experiencing a crisis right now. We’re being inundated with news of sickness and death, unable to leave our homes, fearing for the health of our loved ones who are elderly and those who are working in health care positions… We’re homeschooling our kids, doing our best to help them live their best lives right now, and attempting to keep life fun and lighthearted… We’re working from home, we’ve lost our jobs, we’re working in the public with germs all around… It’s all too much!
During the past few weeks – especially since the stay-at-home orders were put in place – I have felt anxiety settle into my body in a way it hasn’t since I lost my dad. I’ve been shaky, I’ve had a constant knot in my stomach, I’ve been emotionally paralyzed, and my joint have been sore. This is the way anxiety presents with me and maybe you experience anxiety differently. But, if you’re heavy with anxiety right now, don’t feel shame. You have every reason to. You, me, the whole world – we’re all going through trauma!
I can’t fix your anxiety for you but hopefully some of these tips for managing anxiety will help you get it a little more under control so you can live your best life!
Tips for Managing Anxiety During a Crisis
Move Your Body
I’m horrible at prioritizing exercise but I always find that it’s a great way to reset my anxious mind and work out some of the stress I’m feeling. My exercise of choice is hiking or going for walks but I’ve also found relief in bike riding, exercise DVDs, yoga, and so much more! Basically anything that gets your blood pumping and endorphins going works! (We all know that “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins makes you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands!” Thank you Elle Woods) If you’re really an over achiever you could even go for a run. I won’t join you. That’s where I draw the line. 😉
There are always things in the world that trigger anxiety. These things are going to look different for each person. Maybe you can’t get on facebook without being inundated with stressful messages. Maybe you can’t talk to a specific person if you’re not in the right head space because things about them just sets your anxiety off. Often we don’t know our triggers but if you are able to figure out one (or more than one) make sure to do what you can to avoid them!
Get the Sleep You Can
I know it’s not the same for everyone but, for me, the amount of sleep I get plays a huge role in how much anxiety I feel. On the flip side, the amount of anxiety I’m feeling dictates how much sleep I’m going to get. It’s a vicious cycle. Now that I’m a mama to three crazy boys – one who’s still nursing once a night – getting sleep is even harder!
Instead of stressing over the sleep I’m not getting, I simply do my best to get all the sleep I can. My husband understands the fact that I sleep poorly AND the fact that I need sleep in order to be at my best in relation to my mental health so he takes a lot of night duty and morning duty with our boys in order to let me sleep. I also have specific conditions I need to be able to sleep – white noise, a dark room, not being touched – so we work together to make sure these conditions are being met.
I don’t know what you need to make sure you’re getting as much sleep as you can but take some time figuring out what works best for you. Sleep is SO important!
There are a lot of different ways to pray or meditate while experiencing times of anxiety. As a Christian, my first go-to is to talk to God. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and know that God hears and answers prayer. I confess the parts of my anxiety that are in my control and ask Him to come into the parts of my anxiety that are outside of my control.
Meditation, on the other hand, can include so many different techniques. Some are more spiritual based and some are more neuro-science based. All of them can have good results in calming anxiety. I’d encourage you to search for more information on any of these meditation topics that seem as thought they could be beneficial to you.
- Bible Verse Meditation
- Breathing Techniques
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Body Scan Meditation
- And So Many Others!
Talk to Someone
No one should have to go through seasons of anxiety alone and I will always and forever encourage people to talk to a counselor or therapist to get the help they need. It’s good to be able to have face to face interaction with a counselor but sometimes (you know, like during a global pandemic) that’s impossible. Thankfully there are so many online options for therapy these days. I have only experienced one of these options for myself but they are all first hand recommendations I received from others who have experienced them.
- Many states have recently set up virtual crisis counseling programs. Search online to find the one for your state.
- Online Licenced Therapists
I’m sure there a lot more options out there but I only wanted to recommend ones that I personally have heard success stories about!
Do Something Mindless
Sometimes all the other tips for managing anxiety just don’t cut it and anxiety just needs to be overlooked. This is not a healthy way to handle anxiety for an extended amount of time but for smaller seasons of life it can be necessary. When I’m needing to escape from my anxiety I find mindless activities to fill my brain space.
Some mindless activities that work for me are:
- Watching TV
- Reading a Book
- Scrolling Instagram
- Reading Buzzfeed Articles
- Taking a Bath
I would encourage each of you to think of things that aren’t destructive to your well being but are ways to keep your brain from focusing on the anxiety.
Don’t Expect too Much of yourself
Let’s be honest, gals, times of crisis are anxiety inducing. It’s just a fact. You can read ALL the tips for managing anxiety during a crisis and still struggle with anxiety. The situation we’re currently in is crazy. Future crises we will experience will be crazy. We need to be gentle and grace-full with ourselves during these seasons. Anxiety will come and, yes, we need to work through it, but we also need to remember that it’s ok to struggle. We can take steps back from how we typically live life and get ourselves emotionally healthy. We can prioritize our mental health. We need to focus less on our typical expectations and acknowledge that we will get through this – it will just take time and a lot of work!