It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog but I thought in these unprecedented times of Covid-19 it might be helpful to write about how to keep ourselves sane during these difficult times.

How do I manage my anxiety during this time of Covid-19?

It is not surprising that so many of us are experiencing increasing levels of anxiety during this time.  The uncertainty of what is to come, how we will cope, whether  we will get the virus, if someone we love will get the virus, how our bodies will cope if we do get the virus, how we will manage being isolated, what will happen to our work, how will we manage being cooped up with our kids… and the list goes on.

What are some helpful tips for managing anxiety?

When we are experiencing any kind of anxiety, the first thing to do is to accept that you are feeling anxious.  I’ve written previously about making friends with your anxiety – it is much easier to deal with our anxiety if we aren’t actively pushing against it. If we tell ourselves, I shouldn’t be anxious, I shouldn’t be feeling this way, I can’t manage myself… we are creating resistance and resistance doesn’t allow us to move forward or to move forward  easily.  Making friends with our anxiety is about accepting that we are anxious.  Acknowledging to ourselves that, I am feeling anxious, uncomfortable, distressed, panicky… whatever it is.  Naming the feeling is always helpful because it gives it a form and is not something esoteric and vague.  Telling yourself, It’s okay for me to feel anxious… or whatever it is that you’re feeling is important.  This means you are giving yourself permission to feel however you are feeling.  When we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t feel the way we are feeling, we make ourselves wrong and we can’t really change the way we feel by telling ourselves not to feel this way!  This has never worked and if it did, no one would ever need any anxiety counselling!

If I allow myself to feel anxious, won’t it get out of control?

Many of us get worried that if we ‘give in’ to our anxiety, it will become bigger and out of our control.  In fact, the opposite tends to happen.  When we make space for how we are feeling, when we make friends  with our anxiety, it allows what we are feeling to become more manageable and doesn’t, in fact, take over our lives.  It may feel paradoxical or counter-intuitive, but if you can give yourself permission to feel however you are feeling and do this in an intentional way, notice what happens for you.

Is there something specific I can do to help me with my anxious feelings?

Try this exercise:  stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, drop your energy into your thighs.  Feel how grounded this makes you.  If someone tried to push you over, you wouldn’t move.  When you are feeling anxious or out of sorts, you can do this and see what difference it makes for you.  The next step is to say out loud, ‘I choose to know that it is safe for me to let go of my anxiety’ or ‘I choose to know that it is safe for me to feel calm and centred.’  These are just some ideas of how you can use this exercise.  It is about changing self-limiting beliefs at an unconscious or sub-conscious level.  You can make up your own statements but make sure you drop your energy into your thighs when you do this exercise and that you say, I choose to know….’  Be creative and experiment with what you want for yourself.

What else can I do to help during this time of Covid-19?

Stick to a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.  This could include exercise in your garden or living room, making time for a hobby or something that you enjoy, having a bath, baking, cooking…  And limit the amount of news and social media you watch about the virus.  It can make you feel worse – more worried, more stressed, more anxious.

Do I really have to get dressed every day?

Get dressed every day (or at least most days!).  Don’t live in your pyjamas or sweatpants… some days are okay for this but not every day.  It’s important to our sense of well-being to make an effort.  It is tempting to put on a work shirt or nice top and stay in pyjama bottoms when working online as no one can see our bottom half!!  But you’d be surprised at the difference it can make psychologically when you dress your bottom half to match your top half for work or just to hang around the house.  Mix it up – wear a dress just because you can – or a suit or fancy shirt.

I can’t be bothered to cook or prepare meals…

Stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food.  Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and use this time to experiment with cooking something new.

Find a project that you’ve been putting off or intending to do.  Now is the time to do this.

How can I cope with the demands of my family?

Be patient with yourself and with your family members, especially with your kids.  To do this, you need to be managing yourself well – look after yourself.  Make time for yourself.  When the kids are plonked in front of the TV or gaming or watching a movie, take this time for yourself – have a bubble bath, read a book, listen to some music, do a puzzle, knit, or just relax.  Don’t use this time to get something done.  If you don’t make time for yourself, you will become resentful and impatient and even more stressed.

What else can I do to look after myself?

And finally, be creative about what works best for you during this time.  You may not know yet how to manage yourself because you’ve never been in this situation before.  Get to know yourself and find out what works best for you to manage yourself during this time.  When you manage yourself more effectively, you’ll manage everyone else around you more effectively as well.

And be kind to yourself… you’re not perfect (sorry to tell you this!) and you will muck it up and lose your temper and get exasperated and frustrated and disillusioned and so on… allow yourself these episodes and then get back on the bike and keep riding.

What if I need more help?

If you would like some help managing yourself during these times, the government is offering telehealth for all Australians, bulk-billed, as long as you have a mental health care plan from your GP.  You can do this on an online call with your GP.  I am offering online sessions and would be happy to have a chat over the phone to see what you need and how I can assist you.  Feel free to give me a call on 0423 932 200 or send me an email to: lauren@laurensokolski.com.au

And take care, all of you.

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