Strategies for Coping with Anxiety

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Is coronavirus triggering your anxiety? We have some tips to help you find a sense of calm during these stressful times.

Anxiety functions as a healthy alarm system that keeps humans from danger in order to survive. This healthy response to perceived threats is neither irrational nor inappropriate. However, when this natural alarm system becomes unbalanced, it obstructs how humans deal with new situations and diminishes the ability to function in everyday life. If left unchecked, it can create difficulties in relationships and impede important social functions. Although some concern is warranted for protecting ourselves from contracting coronavirus, unnecessary anxiety can do more harm than good while navigating this pandemic. The following behavioral tips can help you deal with this physiological response in healthy ways.

Become Aware of What You Feel
The more you try to ignore anxiety, the stronger it becomes. That's because avoidance signals danger to the brain, so the body generates more anxiety. These symptoms include rapid heart rate, increased body temperature, hyperventilation and sweating. People often try to ignore anxiety by covering it up or pushing it aside. Instead, try to live in the moment and feel emotions while they happen.

Take Deep Breaths
Since anxiety can cause shallow and rapid breaths, managing your breathing can promote calmness. Scientifically speaking, deep breaths increase the oxygen supply to the brain and promote a healthy exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This helps to lower high blood pressure and stabilize your heartbeat.

Find a Mental Safety Net
Since anxiety warns of danger, looking for calm scenarios can help refocus the mind. While the world has many threats, it also has just as many opportunities to find calm. Luckily, you don't have to leave your home to find them. You might find the calm you in need in activities such as meditating, organizing, exercising, or listening to music. Spending time with animals can also serve as a mental safety net, which is why emotional support animals have gained such popularity.

Explore Meditative Strategies
Many people shy away from meditative practices because they think they involve shutting off all thoughts. Some might even think that meditation involves religion. However, it doesn't require mental emptiness, nor does it belong to any faith group.
You can try meditation through sitting or walking. For the first technique, sit up straight with both hands in your lap. Simply focus on your breath as it moves in through the nose and then out of the body. When random thoughts and physical annoyances intrude, acknowledge these feelings and remain focused on your breathing. By doing this you are training yourself to be more calm and mindful in responding to your thoughts.

Walking meditation makes a nice exercise for days with pleasant weather. You can do this in any quiet place, even indoors. Simply walk slowly from the starting point and back. The goal of this activity is to focus on the sensations you experience, such as your breathing and the movement of your legs. Similar to sitting meditation, the goal of this exercise is to nurture mindfulness.

Use All Your Senses
When a situation causes anxiety, it can be difficult to notice anything else. That's why exploring your surroundings through the senses can help center yourself. Absorbing the sound, smell, sight, touch or taste of different things in different environments can help ground your mind and introduce a feeling of calm.

While anxiety seems challenging to manage, you can deal with it by understanding its function. Know that it's simply the body's alert system, and manage the symptoms by using these tips. By learning how to manifest calm when you need it, you’ll know how to balance yourself in times of anxiety.

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