There are many ways that COVID-19 is affecting us. Although we have all been asked to do – or not to do – similar things, all of our situations have been slightly different in the last few months. And given the turmoil many of us are living with, or are witnessing on the news, there are many outside factors impacting our wellbeing. One of the biggest consequences that we are seeing is a rise in anxiety in people.
‘Normal’ life can already create problems with anxiety – when we are put in stressful situations at work or in our personal lives, for example, or if we have other circumstances in life that can affect our mental health.
It is important to remember that if you are feeling anxious or experiencing low mood there is help out there, and your doctor will be able to help you. You shouldn’t be concerned about contacting them, even if you don’t think that your case is serious enough. Sometimes a doctor will refer you to a counsellor, or you can approach a counsellor directly and ask for some support.
Living with Panic Attacks and Anxiety
One of the most important ways to tackle panic attacks and anxiety is to know the signs and fight it before it grows into a bigger problem. They can manifest themselves differently in everybody, but there are some common signs, such as:
- Worrying excessively
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling irritable
- Tense muscles
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Avoiding social situations
There are some things that you can do to reduce the chance of a panic attack or increased anxiety – which you can do normally but should pay especially close attention to if you notice any of these signs. These include:
1. Be nice to yourself
According to the luxury spa club, The Lab Spa, “there are a number of ways to help relieve the burden of mental health for almost every individual…and two of the most proven combatants are exercise and relaxation.”
Whether it is a regular pamper, having some ‘me time’, sitting down and reading a book or spoiling yourself with a glass of wine every now and then, it is important to make time to do things that you enjoy. Try blocking this time off in your diary to make sure that you do it and that it doesn’t get taken over by ‘life’.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and let go of your anxieties. It might not be so easy to get exercise at the moment, but even if it is to just go for a walk, it is doing you good. Exercise can release endorphins into your body which can help to lift your mood as well as help you to feel better about yourself in general. Our minds and our bodies are very closely linked and by looking after one, we will also help to look after the other.
3. Healthy Eating
It can be easy to fall into the rut of eating unhealthy food, especially when you aren’t feeling great about yourself or your situation, and it can be easy to turn to sugary or fatty food. In fact, what would help you to improve how you are feeling would be to eat healthily – plenty of fruit and vegetables are the way forward! And, of course, stay well hydrated.
Working Through Anxiety or a Panic Attack
Although there is plenty that we can do to help to reduce the risk of having a panic attack or times of high anxiety, they still might happen. If you feel that you are beginning to suffer from one of these, there are some strategies that you can try, to help to calm yourself down:
1. Practise Mindfulness
‘Mindfulness’ is about living in the now. Not worrying about the past or the future and concentrating on what you are doing right now. This way, you can give you mind a break from worrying about other things and it’s a great way to ground you. You can try concentrating on your breathing, what you are eating, looking at a flame, or the feel of sand running through your fingers. Try to concentrate on the sensations that you are feeling right now, putting anything else out of your mind.
2. Muscle Relaxation
Some people find it useful to use muscle relaxation techniques. This would involve concentrating on each muscle, one at a time and consciously relaxing it.
3. Close your eyes and Breathe Deeply
Closing your eyes cuts out some of the stimuli that are bombarding your senses and can help you to focus on your breathing. Deep breathing can be a great way to calm down and reduce the impact of panic attacks. When people are having a panic attack, they can often find it difficult to breathe and this is a great way to control your breathing and calm yourself down.
Anxiety and panic attacks can be scary and have a big impact on our lives. It is, therefore, important that we know how to deal with them – but, perhaps more importantly, know what to do to help to prevent them – and get some help if you feel that you need it.
Do you feel anxious or overwhelmed? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245, Duncan on 0434 331 243 or Rachel on 0442 177 193 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online.
Evelyn James is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist based in the UK. She is a tea drinker, a Ravenclaw, and loves the outdoors.