Breathing easy and dealing with the coronavirus lockdown induced anxiety
Although the leaders are setting lockdown deadlines running only into a few weeks, many people are already contemplating the worst.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged societies with almost 500000 people being affected across the globe.
In a bid to stop this virus from spreading at an alarming rate, governments have placed about 1/3rd of humanity in a lockdown that has led to a crisis in mental health.
Although leaders are setting lockdown deadlines running only into a few weeks, many people are already hunkering down for the worst.
If you are one among these and are in the grip of anxiety pangs in the midst of all this social and economic devastation, here are a few tips that might help you tide over your worries, or at least help you handle your concerns better.
Acknowledge your anxiety
The uneasiness that you are feeling right now is a form of anxiety. A lot of us suffer from an anxiety disorder. So, we are aware of it. However, there are a lot of you, who may or may not have experienced such a feeling or perhaps don't know how to put a name to it.
Understanding the cause of anxiety is essential. Anxiety isn't something that develops suddenly, it's a culmination of events or factors that leads to a heightened state of emotions. Once you have figured out what triggers the anxiety, it becomes easier to calm your self down.
When having an anxiety attack, we begin to breathe rapidly and shallowly. This shortness of breath can lead to 'hyperventilation'. Thus it is imperative to concentrate on your breathing and practice a healthy breathing routine. For starters, if you feel short of breath, try to inhale and exhale slowly. Meditate, if required.
Use your phone to seek support
That's one of the better things about technology. It keeps us connected. While in quarantine, it often seems like the walls of the room are caving in. Social distancing isn't easy for anyone. So, if you have a phone with a network, pick it up and dial a friend or family member who you care for. There is a sense of collective anxiety in the society and if you are feeling alone and staying inside your room, the chances are the person at the other end too is feeling the same way. Speaking to a loved one helps lessen the burden of grief. But hey, no time is a good time to call a former lover. Not even during a pandemic!
Since the days seem longer and with more hours at hand, this could be the ideal time to indulge in some self-love that you often skip during rush hours. Pick up that book which has been gathering dust in the corner and finish reading it. Get creative and express your feelings through paintings, music, dance. Sway to your favourite music or dance your heart out. After all, no one is looking. Take long showers if that helps you feel better, but keep in mind to avoid wasting water.
Cut down on news
In dire times such as these, it is imperative for us to stay up to date with news and information. But the barrage of stressful information often adds to the rising anxiety. Albert Camus in The Plague wrote, 'There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.'
The news has been mostly grim. So, when a newswoman tells you to cut down on the intake of news, listen.
Sweat it out
Physical exertion or exercise releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with the receptors in the brain and trigger a positive feeling, similar to that induced by morphine. Even otherwise, while you're stuck between walls, it's always a good idea to get into shape.
Maintain a journal
Pick up a notebook and pen down your thoughts. Writing in isolation often helps to bring out clarity in one's thoughts. Moreover, these are unprecedented times and fifty years down the line, these journals will be your own slice of history.
If these do-it-at-home interventions are not working, then reach out to a therapist and seek medical help. Although face-to-face sessions are difficult in these times of social distancing, a lot of practitioners are now offering therapy over video conferencing.