A week ago I was planning to travel out of state with my daughter for a spring break trip. Almost as soon as I cancelled our trip, they began cancelling large events as a preventative measure to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus. New closures are coming daily, and we are each being asked to adapt to these changes very quickly.
I am all for prevention and doing my part to help save lives. But I am also aware of the uptick in the collective stress and worry about the unknown. Whether you have struggled with anxiety about your health in the past or not, it is normal to be experiencing some fear right now.
Fear gets your attention, so you can take the necessary precautions for you, your family, and your community. The desire to survive is innate and it revs up our nervous system. How are you coping with this?
What Fear May be Driving You to Do
We each have our automatic ways of coping with stress and fear. By far, most of us do something to avoid thinking about fear as much as possible, which is totally understandable. Some will speed up, do more, and try to stay busy to distract from the underlying worry about the unknown. While others are trying to check out by turning to food, alcohol, or Netflix. And then some are hoarding toilet paper to try to soothe their fear. (You know what I’m talking about!)
Some fear and activation right now are signs that you are taking this seriously and want to protect yourself, your family and community. But if the fear is all-consuming and you are finding it hard to work, eat, or connect, let’s explore what else you can do to bring your best self to this situation.
I know you are doing the best you can. I also know that there is a part of you that is wise. And somewhere inside you know what you need emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually in order to get through this situation. Let’s tap into that part of you that has overcome obstacles and really tough situations before now.
Strengthen Your Intuition
This part of you is your intuition. Or you may think of it as your inner guidance system. It’s a deep knowing that holds both truth and love for you and others. And it’s often the part of you that feels connected to something bigger than you…God, Divine, Universe.
In order to access this part of you, you will need to slow down and listen. You may hear silence, words, sense a feeling, experience a body sensation, or see images. However, your intuition speaks to you is fine.
Take a moment right now to ask yourself: what do you most need right now? Or what would comfort that part of you that is really anxious and overwhelmed by this situation? That’s it, pause the reading, close your eyes, take a deep breath and listen.
If you clearly heard what you need right now, then make sure you receive it. And keep asking yourself what you need. The more you ask, listen, and act on your inner knowing, the more you strengthen your trust in yourself.
10 Uplifting Ways to Cope with Anxiety & Stress
Depending on what you heard, you may already be logged off and asking for or receiving what you need. But if you need more ideas on how to cope with anxiety and stress during the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, here are some of mine:
- Make and Create Art: If you heard words or saw images, you can turn them into word art. Turn your mantra into a painting or just sketch it into a journal with markers. Creating art through any medium can help you feel more grounded and centred. No skill needed!
- Practice Breathing with Mantras: Say a mantra like “I am strong, I am safe, or I am healing” while mindfully breathing in and out. Extending your exhalation will help lower your heart rate. And using a mantra can help your racing mind focus on the truth that you most need to hear.
- Sort out Fact from Fear: Let your fear be heard. Write it down or say it out loud. And then ask your intuition or inner wise self what it knows to be true and real. And repeat the truth to yourself until you feel it resonate.
- Limit News Intake: Be informed, so you know the facts as best as you can. But don’t spend endless hours watching and reading the news, internet, and social media posts.
- Keep Connecting with Others: Social distancing is different than isolation. You can still make contact virtually. Talk about something other than the pandemic. Or directly ask someone to help you sort out your worries from the truth.
- Be in Nature: Connecting with nature when you can’t get to your usual gym workout or yoga studio can be very comforting.
- Listen to Uplifting Music: Create a playlist of songs that give you hope and ignite courage. Then share it with others.
- See the Opportunity: This one is hard. If you find an opportunity for personal growth in tough situations, you will have something else to focus on.
- Participate in Virtual Groups: As businesses try to deal with the changing guidelines on whether or not they can stay open, I think there will be a rise in virtual offerings. A local yoga studio is going to start offering virtual classes later this week.
- Create New Habits: Maybe you want to start practicing meditation, yoga or eating more veggies. Whatever it is, now may be a great time to start a new habit that nourishes you instead of depletes you.
I’d love to hear what you think you need right now in order to comfort your anxiety and stress. I’ve personally done almost all of these in the last week. Because in order for me to support others, I need to receive and support myself. And so do you!
May you find moments of peace and hope amidst the change and fear. And may we spread love and grace for ourselves and others.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC is a professional counselor in Lee’s Summit MO who works with ambitious men, women, and teens who are stressed out, anxious and burned out. If you feel like anxiety or stress is getting in the way of you connecting with others, schedule a free 15-minute phone consult with Marci. Together, we will decide if I’m the best counselor for you.
(Note: As of 3/16/20, all sessions are virtual, not face-to-face. Currently offering online and phone sessions for Missouri residents.)