I am not normally one to identify as an anxious person, you could say I’m a perfectionist or an overthinker but I had never classified myself as an anxious person until the pandemic.
All the symptoms I would get of anxiety usually would correlate with something, a fight with a friend, if I somehow managed to be under prepared for something, or a presentation I was nervous for. and the symptoms would always go away as soon as that issue was dealt with. My heart would stop racing, my shallow breaths would steady themselves and my thoughts would return to a more relaxed state.
But since the pandemic began I have noticed that my anxiety can become a constant state, especially if I have not socialized in a while (whether that be at work or having a Zoom call with friends) or if there is a switch up in my routine (such as going to from full time work where I’m going to my job, to full time school where I’m mainly at home and am dealing with a bundle of deadlines and a lack of creative inspiration). We live in this pressure cooker of a world right now and little things that are not a big deal in my regular day life seem amplified under a microscope.
The pandemic I know has not just raised my anxiety but basically everyones. We are a part of this generation that needs to be in the know all the time and we have the answers to almost all questions at our fingertips. So the constant unknown (coupled with the lack of physical contact, the fear of getting sick by simply going to the grocery store and being stuck in the same place day in and day out) is making people sad and frustrated. The worst part is many people (including myself) thought that this would be over by now, that life would be normal again and mask wearing and social distancing would be a thing of the past. But with the end feeling far, far away (sometimes even non existent) it feels not only draining but anxiety inducing.
It can all feel overwhelming especially when you have to still deal with your regular day to day obligations such as work or school. So I have tried to find some helpful tips to get through these days.
I am no expert on giving mental health advice and I understand that people with real prolonged mental health problems may not benefit from this list. This is just simply a list for those who don’t always struggle with stress and anxiety and some ideas to help get through it.
Anyways, disclaimer aside, here are some things that have helped me relax when I am feeling overwhelmed with work, school and just the world at large, but still have to function.
Complete a Simple Task: I have gotten into the habit of making my bed every morning. A friend gave me this tip, saying that it helps them be more productive and it helps me as well. It tricks my brain into thinking I have accomplished something and makes me more prepared for the rest of the day. It also helps me to focus more because I can’t do work when I know my room is a mess. But completing a simple task doesn’t just apply to making your bed. It can be as small as making yourself a cup of coffee and breakfast or something more productive like sending an email you have been putting off. The goal is to make yourself feel like you have done something beneficial for your day that will make you feel accomplished.
Take a Shower: This might just be me but my day to day problems seem so much more solvable in the shower. I think it is the combination of being away from distractions on your phone and that by taking a step back from your task, you are letting your brain relax more and come up with new ideas, a resolution or sparks your creativity. A shower can just make you feel better as well, you feel more refreshed and clean after.
Stay Off Social Media: Jumping off the shower point of being away from your phone, staying off of social media doing this when I start to feel overwhelmed is helpful in calming myself down and completing a task. It’s very easy to stay on your phone all day, to be sucked into a vortex of other people’s stories, pictures, captions and the list can go on, but I think one of the biggest anxiety inducing things is looking at what other people are accomplishing that you aren’t. It’s a daily practice for me to remind myself that social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s most joyous moments, and I
love it normally for being just that, but sometimes it can rob you by comparing yourself to others. People you’re acquaintances with who are further ahead in life, getting married, running their own companies, or just having amazing jobs, instead of being happy for those people we tend to compare our own lives to theirs and it robs you of joy. By staying away from social media until you are in a better headspace, networks like Facebook and Instagram can make you spiral more.
Take a Break: If something is overwhelming you sometimes you need more than a ten minute hot shower to get over it. There is no better time than in a pandemic to go easy on yourself, on your emotions and to give yourself a break. Establishing a few throughout your work day might be the thing that pushes you to complete your daily tasks without getting burnt out. Some ideas where you can stay off your phone is to go on a walk, read a book (a happier genre) and paint or colour. Adult colouring books were invented for a reason, it’s been proven that they help relieve stress and anxiety and also help with focus.
These again are just some ideas, if you continue to struggle with prolonged anxiety reach out to a friend or family member for help.