Hello again Brixworthians! Today I wanted to give some advice on anxiety and how to avoid lock down nerves. I appreciate I mentioned talking about children in my previous post but in light of the prime ministers’ latest announcement, I thought it would be more appropriate to address this instead.
For many, the reality and severity of the situation may have only just sunk in. This can cause a lot of unwanted and unexpected anxieties. That is okay! It’s a perfectly reasonable emotion to be feeling but I wanted to talk today about not letting that overwhelm you so that you can forge a happy healthy life moving forward. Let’s break it up into Mental and Physical things you can do.
There are many things you can do to look after your mental health during this unusual time.
Stop checking the news, limit yourself to once a day or even every other day. Unfortunately, not much it’s going to change from hour to hour and any changes that do happen are not going to be positive for a while. Obsessing over the news and checking it regularly doesn’t allow your mind to relax and empty itself of the things that are worrying you.
Next try to limit the amount you talk about COVID-19. Much like checking the news over and over, discussing it all day long doesn’t allow you to focus on other things and find calm. Perhaps at the beginning of your next Skype call to your family or friends, mention that you would love for this to be a COVID-19 free call. Only discuss happy things, plans for the future (set aside whether they will happen or not) or the positive things you have achieved this week.
A positive thought that is keeping me calm is a saying my Mum use to say to my brother and I when we were going through hard times. “It will all be okay in the end and if it’s not okay, then its not the end”. The world will right itself and everyday is a day closer to normalcy; it’s not forever, remind yourself of this and tell yourself that you are strong enough to get through this.
If positive thoughts aren’t enough to keep your anxiety away (and that’s allowed) then let’s discuss some physical things you can do that are proven to help. Nice and simple; look after yourself! Keep eating and eat healthy. Cut back on the caffeine and alcohol. Get some exercise, whether that be in your front room or outside (just remember 2 meters apart, only with others from your household)
By eating healthy, you are making sure your body and brain are getting all the required vitamins and minerals to function at full capacity and produce all the hormone your need to keep balance. Slow release energy foods like cereals, bread, pasta and rice can keep your sugar levels steady and therefore your moods steady too. Processed sugars cause your blood sugars to rise and fall rapidly, which can cause mood swings (in adults as well as children). I have found that for myself, quarantine has caused me to forget about drinking water and often find I’m getting headaches which make me grouchy. I’m now focusing on remembering to drink lots and if I begin to get moody, I have a big glass of water and a deep breath.
Like many Brits, we love nothing better than a cup of tea or coffee in the morning and a cheeky drink with dinner. This is fine and can be a good way to practice some self-care. However, if you find that being at home all day means you are having more tea and coffee and cracking open the bottle of wine a few hours earlier, then you may need to pause and back track. Caffeine (which is in tea as well as coffee) and alcohol love running havoc in your brain. Caffeine can overstimulate your brain and aggravate anxiety unnecessarily. Though alcohol can make you feel more relaxed and less anxious as it effects the chemicals in your brain, once the alcohol wears off the anxiety will return and sometimes even worse. This could lead to alcohol dependency to reduce these anxieties. Try to keep to your usual amount of alcohol and caffeine, drink water and juice instead.
Finally exercise, love it or hate it, you need it. And boy is it good for you! It can help you sleep better by helping you use up energy. It releases some of those happy chemicals, serotonin we discussed last time which helps lift your mood. Exercise can help you feel better about yourself and improve self-esteem and has been proven to reduce the risk of depressive episodes because of all these factors. I’m not saying your need to run a marathon everyday or start dead-lifting your sofa. A ten-minute brisk walk is enough to blow the blues away. If you don’t want to leave the house, there are so many videos on YouTube for at home-no equipment workouts varying from gentle beginners stretching to intensive sweaty heart attack inducing stuff (feel free to share some videos below).
Look after yourselves, inside and out. Its okay to not be okay. I will circle back to anxiety in a few days’ time to share more ways to handle it.
The short and long of it:
· Check the news less
· Hold on to the positive thoughts
· Talk to friends and family
· Eat right
· Less caffeine and alcohol
· Get some exercise