Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our emotional health. If you’re finding that anxieties are running high, here are some tools and techniques you can use to help calm your mind:
When we’re feeling highly anxious the breath becomes short and shallow. Being aware of this and consciously lengthening the breath with deep diaphragmatic breathing floods the brain with oxygen, signalling to the brain that it’s okay to calm down. This is an effective tool for preventing panic attacks.
Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move. Breathe out slowly, feel the hand on your belly go in. Count as you breathe in and count as you breathe out, taking your time with each breath.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases an overload of stress hormones such as adrenalin and it is the release of these hormones that cause the physical and/or emotional symptoms of anxiety. Doing something physically active can burn off the adrenalin you are creating.
A build up of adrenalin keeps the mind on red alert. Doing something which both engages your mind and relaxes the body will be hugely helpful. Listening to relaxation tracks, guided meditation and yoga, for instance, are all good techniques for relaxation and can provide us with an anchor to keep us steady in difficult times.
Keep in touch regularly with people you care about. Take time to talk on the phone or through video links. These are still good ways to be close to people who matter to you.
Do things that you enjoy
Find something to do that you enjoy. Intently focusing the mind on something positive that captures the imagination will distract the mind from worry. You cannot be actively engaged in something you find enjoyable and be worrying at the same time, your brain cannot do both simultaneously.
Connect with Nature
Connecting with the natural world has been shown to be good for our mental health and can help with anxiety. Being around nature for just 20 minutes is enough to boost brain chemistry to improve mood and energy levels. If you’re unable to get outside or access any green spaces at the moment, consider watching one of the many wildlife webcams online, streaming live and allowing you to connect with nature from your home.
Count your Blessings
At the end of each day reflect on one or two things that you are grateful for. Gratitude can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety by reducing levels of stress hormones.
Spread some kindness, do a good turn for someone. Studies have shown that the more acts of kindness we do in a day the more our level of stress and negative emotion goes down. Being kind buffers the effects of stressful events. Remember to be kind to yourself too, to practise self-care. Create a new daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself.
If you are struggling with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed during this difficult time, hypnotherapy can help. This relaxing and enjoyable process is a combination of talking therapy and hypnosis (a deep state of relaxation).
Hypnotherapy sessions are provided online via Zoom.
Talking therapy is also available by phone.
To find out more about these services, call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form.