14 WAYS & TIPS TO MANAGE, REDUCE & COMBAT
YOUR FEAR, STRESS, ANXIETY & PANIC
Are you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, uncertain, sad, upset, angry, cranky, etc, etc? Are you overreacting, losing your temper, being dramatic, and feeling a whole range of other emotions?
Firstly, sending you a big, tight (virtual) hug!
Secondly, if you are feeling all of these feelings (and more) 1) there is nothing wrong with that 2) please know that you are not alone in this.
Right now, everyone else is fighting the same battle too, in their own ways.
If there ever was a time in the history of our generation when stress and anxiety levels across the world are through the roof then this will be it.
And I recognize that everyone’s personal circumstances are different and how each individual or family is impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic is very different too.
My heart truly goes out to you all and your loved ones during these troubling times!
Things have been scary.
And things are changing by the minute.
Uncertainty is unsettling.
Stress stems from fear which stems from uncertainty (and the unknown).
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We all have different coping mechanisms, while some over-eat their favorite foods others binge-watch their favorite TV shows, while some consume all the information that is out there others choose to deny what is happening.
There is no right or wrong way to cope with unprecedented times and situations like this —
losing income, canceled events, losing jobs, missing out on games, not being able to see/meet loved ones, missing out on the chance to go to prom, crashing stock market and economy, taking care of sick family members, grocery stores running out of supplies, missing out on the chance to graduate, social distancing, being isolated, self-quarantine, etc, etc, etc… and it is still just a very small subset of the problems and issues people across the world are having to deal with at the moment.
Everything happening in the world right now is terrifying and troublesome!
So all those feelings (and more) that you are currently feeling are 100% justified!
It’s ok to not be ok!
But if we do not take control of fear, fear will take control of us, and we then lose the ability to see the things that we do have at the moment, we lose sight of our potential and what we are capable of, we overlook the opportunities knocking at the door right about now, and we go back to worrying about the unknown.
It is a vicious cycle!
Irrational fear can cloud your judgment.
And anxiety steals the joy and robs the opportunity to enjoy the day because more often than not anxiety is associated with the past or the future and not the present.
So instead of focusing on what you cannot control, focus on what you can control – your attitude and your efforts!
Now is the time for you to take the necessary steps and actions to deal with your stress and anxiety (and a whole range of other emotions) and in turn take charge of your fear.
14 WAYS & TIPS TO MANAGE, REDUCE & COMBAT YOUR FEAR, STRESS, ANXIETY & PANIC
1. DO NOT TRY TO FIGHT YOUR FEELINGS
Feelings are what they are, which is as they should be based on your current circumstances. So don’t try to bury your feelings and emotions but instead give your feelings the air time that it needs.
Do not judge those feelings (or thoughts) but merely acknowledge them. Trying to fight your feelings will only make things worse.
At the same time, do not allow yourself to take any action when you are feeling those feelings (anxiety and stress).
Allow those feelings to pass before you act.
2. NURTURE YOURSELF & TEND TO YOUR NEEDS
You cannot serve from an empty cup!
Respect yourself and your needs. Make time for self-care and self-love.
You need to focus your time and energy on working on yourself first. Take care of your physical and mental health first so you are able to take care of the situation, others’ needs and anything else.
And you do not even have to spend an entire day if you cannot afford the time, but dedicate 20-30 minutes a day to nurture and nourish yourself from the inside out. Or take a mental health day if that’s what your body and mind need.
3. BRAIN DUMP / JOURNAL
Write everything that is happening, everything you are going through, and everything that you are feeling. No judgments whatsoever, don’t hold back and just put it all out on paper.
Journaling is a great way to lift that heavy weight off of your shoulders —
a) You really understand yourself better and what it is that is really bothering you
b) You will be able to see clearly and where those feelings/worries are coming from
c) Once those thoughts, fears, feelings, etc, all have a place to reside somewhere else and not your head, it frees up space in your brain for you to think clearly
4. VOICE RECORD NOTES TO YOURSELF
Talk out loud with yourself or better yet leave yourself voice notes. This will prevent you from falling into a deep negative thinking trap.
Start by saying what you are going through (just like journaling) followed by telling yourself positive things about yourself, just like you would talk to your friends when you encourage them and cheer them on.
Tell yourself that you are doing a great job and that you will continue to do better and better.
Tell yourself that you know best and that you are making the best decisions for you and your family.
Tell yourself that you will not stress about the future but instead will be more mindful and enjoy the present day.
5. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS (& TROUBLES)
When you do the above #3 and #4, do not feel guilty about your feelings and the troubles you are going through, no matter how small or big.
I heard this on Red Table Talk and it deeply resonated with me.
A lot of people have lost some things that matter to them even if it is not a ‘big deal’ given the circumstances (for example high school and college students losing their proms & commencements) and those people are feeling guilt over their feelings and grief – ‘who am I to be grieving when people are sick and dying?’
You had a vision all your life about these things that are pretty big deals to you and now you have lost it!
No loss is too small to grieve, it is totally ok to feel the way you are feeling about your loss, so please don’t feel any guilt for your grief!
6. JUST TAKE A BREAK, ME TIME
When you are already running low on energy and when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed please stop demanding too much of yourself.
Simply step back and take a break when you are overcome by those emotions. You need that alone time to just sit in a corner all by yourself and drink a cup of tea (without worrying about every single thing that needs to be done).
You do not have to be a terrific homeschooling mom while also trying to excel at working from home. You do not have to spend additional time learning a new skill because everyone else is. Do not put unreasonable expectations on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
Right now your kids need their mom’s high spirits and good cheer much more than they need an outstanding teacher.
7. STOP CONSUMING NEWS 24/7
Do not let news take over your day and life!
Stay informed but there is no need to consume news through every TV channel and every social media platform. The more news you ingest the more it will overwhelm you causing you a lot of unnecessary stress and panic.
Dedicate a few minutes in a day to get caught up on the current status through credible sources and distance yourself from all other news channels and social media threads.
But if consuming news is going to trigger you then just have a family member or friend provide you only the necessary updates.
8. KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
Speaking of news, try to analyze your other common stressors as well.
What causes you stress and anxiety?
Understanding the types of stress and its sources are what will help you to manage your stress and anxiety better.
Maintain a stress log or diary of some sort to keep a tab on your triggers, how you react at such instances, what helped you overcome those feelings, and what can you do better when such triggers present themselves again?
9. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS & MOVEMENT
Being mindful about your mind, body and soul are the most essential ways to manage stress and anxiety at times like this.
Whether it be meditation, breathing exercises (4-4-4, 4-7-8, 4-11, etc), gratitude journal, or grounding technique (5-4-3-2-1 method – list 5 things you see around you, 4 things you can feel (through touch), 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste), practicing some kind of mindfulness will help calm and center you.
Doing yoga or some kind of workout will also help you combat stress and anxiety. Generally, keep your body moving.
10. DO NOT RETREAT INTO YOUR SHELL
If you bottle up your feelings and retreat into your shell because of fear and anxiety it will only make things worse.
When you feel stressed, reach out to your friends and family who are willing to listen to you without judging you. They do not need to fix you/your situation or find you a solution but only listen to you. So vent out your feelings and blow off your steam.
Seek such a support group or a listening/venting partner and have them on speed dial (or is it only zoom chats these days?) for when you need them.
11. HELP & SERVE OTHERS
When you can be of service and help others it offers a great sense of self-worth and connection.
Being of service not only makes you realize that you are unnecessarily worrying about things that are small but it will also help you understand what you are capable of doing for others.
Reaching outside ourselves to help others can really put a lot of things in perspective and we begin to value what we already have even more.
12. GIVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS GRACE
Stop demanding too much from yourself and from others because these are unprecedented times and everyone is dealing with quite a lot right now.
And being cooped up inside the house for days together can make all of us more irritable and can easily get on each other’s nerves.
So extend yourself and others grace on the days you feel inadequate, extend grace when everything is falling apart, extend grace when nothing is getting done.
Step away from the situation instead of reacting and come back to it later with a fresh perspective.
13. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
If all else fails and/or if you suffer from chronic stress issues, then immediately seek professional help.
Make an appointment with a counselor or a therapist and talk to them, even if you can only do so through zoom video calls at the moment.
14. OTHER HEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES TO REDUCE ANXIETY, STRESS, FEAR & PANIC
- CRY IT OUT – It is ok to cry, in fact, it is much needed. So do not hold back and let it all out.
- Visualize Your Happy Place
- Choose A Mantra & Repeat It
- Get Enough Sleep
- Eat A Healthy, Well-balanced Diet & Hydrate
- Limit Alcohol & Caffeine Consumption
- Stop Overthinking & Over Analysing
- Have A Routine/Schedule With Room For Flexibility
- Use Color Therapy To Enhance Your Mood
- Use A Stress Ball
- Chew Gum
- Dance To Your Heart’s Content
- Read An Inspiring Book Or Quotes
- Use Daily Positive Affirmations – I have faith that everything will work out. I am not alone in my struggles.
I know none of this is easy but I sincerely hope that these stress-relieving tips and techniques will help you to manage your anxiety, panic and fear better and feel more calm and centered.
Please be gentle with yourself. It takes a lot of strength to pull yourself out of a stressful situation. So be proud of trying to do that today (and every day)!
This takes practice, and every time you manage your stress without getting triggered, it gets easier the next time.
What is the one thing that you will change/do today to improve how you are feeling?
And remember, this is only temporary and this too shall pass!
“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.”