10 Tips for Reducing Anxious Thoughts + Fear During COVID-19

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So far, 2020 has surely been a rollercoaster of emotions and it is only March. For many of us, our status-quo, drama-free, routine life, has been stirred up by the coronavirus crisis and our emotions are now bouncing between anxiety, fear, and distress. During this time of uncertainty, we need to be extra gentle with ourselves, implementing whatever we can do to reduce stress. 

Luckily, Hoboken-based therapist Cassandra Lenza, LCSW, CEDS, RYT {owner of Healing on Hudson}, is here to help. Here are her top 10 tips for staying calm during this global crisis.

mental health coronavirus

1. Check the Facts 

This is a common phrase to help combat anxious thoughts. Educate yourself on what you can do to prevent the spread, or “flatten the curve” of cases in the state and country. Find information from trusted sources, such as the CDC, the State, or the City of Hoboken and City of Jersey City on effective practices. Try to avoid opinion pieces, blogs, or social media posts, whereby information may be emotion-based, or subjective, rather than fact-based or objective. 

2. Let Go of Trying to Answer the “Unknowns” 

 During times of uncertainty, it is common for your thoughts to drift off to the unknown. Thoughts such as “when will it end,” “where will I go if things continue on this way?” or “what if I contract the virus?” are thoughts steeped in fear. Try to recognize your “W” thoughts – the “what if,” “where,” or “when” — these are thought clues that you are experiencing anxiety. Take a deep breath, write these thoughts down to let them out, and recognize that the answers are simply not available to you, right this moment. 

Read More: A Therapist Shares How to Prioritize Your Mental Health

3. Ask Yourself What You Can Control in This Moment  

The best antidote for losing control is seeking control in positive, encouraging ways. First, get prepared and get supplies. Do all you can to feel safe. But then, take some time for what excites you. This is a fantastic time to get to things that interest you. Feeling capable and accomplished is extremely valuable to your mental health, especially in times of stress.

4. Reduce Catastrophizing 

Aka, thinking the worst. There is no use in indulging in the worst-case scenario thoughts. While it is easy to get wrapped up in potential catastrophes, when your brain goes to the “what if it all goes wrong?” try to redirect your thoughts to “what if we put this all behind us?” Thinking positively takes as much time as thinking negatively. Spend your time wisely.

5. Consider Reducing Screen time, News Exposure, or Social Media Use 

So chances are you’ve educated yourself. Maybe here is a good place to stop. Too much information can be over-stimulating. Our brains can stop processing information rationally. If your fears are becoming overwhelming, it is okay to step back from the news, take a break, and focus on you. 

6. Set Better Boundaries with Those Who Trigger Fear 

It is possible that you may have people around you who are making you feel even more anxious and afraid. Consider removing yourself from the group chat if the information is becoming overwhelming, or asking others from refraining from dumping their fears onto you. Boundaries are so important — even in times of crisis — and it is okay to say “no” if it all becomes too much. 

7. Wake Up with a Grateful Heart  

Prayer, meditation, doing a few sun salutations, or merely taking a few deep breaths in the morning, can all be incredible grounding exercises to take during this time. Taking these measures upon waking up give us all a few moments to plug into this reality, our new reality, in a hopeful and positive way.

See More: For a Dose of Calm: Local Healers Offering Virtual Sessions

8. Practice Self Care 

Eating well, nourishing our bodies, doing a face mask, and gentle exercise, can all keep our endorphins and positive vibes flowing. And we all use them right now!

9. It’s OK to Not Be OK

Admittedly, it’s a scary time, and it’s okay if you find yourself struggling to stay afloat. Know there is no right way to handle a crisis, and you can only do the best that you can. 

10. Reach Out to a Mental Health Professional 

We have been trained in crisis management, and are here for you if you find yourself needing more support. Many of us Hoboken therapists are still accepting new patients, offering virtual sessions, and even jumping on quick phone calls to help process and cope with COVID-19. 

What are some of your tips for staying calm? Let us know in the comments!

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