As we enter another week of lockdown, for some of us it hasn’t gotten any easier. Whether you’re a key worker keeping busy or are staying at home exhausting all corners of Netflix, anxiety can affect us all and it’s important to deal with it in a healthy way.
It’s completely normal to feel worried and anxious about what the future holds, and you should find comfort in knowing you’re not alone in feeling this way. The extra time we’ve got on our hands leaves many people sitting with and getting suffocated by these negative thoughts. It’s important to keep our minds busy and try and do something mindful to distract from all the negatives. Believe it or not, every negative has a positive – even if it seems hard to find. Here are a few easy ways you can use your spare time to reduce your anxiety:
Read less of the news
With the pandemic situation changing rapidly every day, our phones can get swarmed by articles, reports, interviews and opinions and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with information. Although it’s important to understand what’s going on, it’s equally important to limit the amount of information you absorb in a day. I often find myself engulfed with information, and the news can become a dark place. I like to limit myself to 30 minutes of news a day and avoid going on social media where possible. Dedicate more time to your own mental well-being and personal relationships –you don’t have to be completely up to date with the news all the time!
Paint By Numbers
Art therapy has been effectively used for over 70 years as a way to reduce symptoms of anxiety. It calms the nervous system, increases self awareness, and is a great practice of mindfulness. Even if you don’t have one artistic bone in your body – or have never picked up a paintbrush in your life – paint by numbers is a super easy way to create a beautiful piece of art. It’s simple to do, and at the end of it you’ll have a print that you can hang on your wall and flaunt to your dinner party guests.
Go on a walk
For someone struggling with anxiety or depression, I understand it’s easier said than done to leave the safety of your own home. The outside can be quite stressful, as society is behaving in a way we have never experienced before. You might feel guilt for going out when you should be staying in, or fear for who you might bump into – a lot of us feel this way. But a short walk can do wonderful things for your mental well-being, especially when we are confined to our homes and our time outside has been drastically limited. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and this is because walking reduces stress, anxiety, releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins into our bodies, improves sleep and mental clarity – the list goes on. Anxieties during lockdown often come as a result of feeling isolated and lonely, so going on a walk is a great way to reconnect with the outside world and interact with people. It will, at least, help everything feel a little more normal.
Plant some flowers
Out of all the months in the year, I’m glad lockdown has happened at the time it has. One reason for this – it’s the perfect time to plant flowers. Not many people are aware, but studies have shown the mental health benefits of gardening are extensive. Firstly, because growing a flower gives you a sense of responsibility and achievement. To care for a flower and watch it grow not only garners a feeling of pride, but also gives you a sense of purpose and worth. Many people battling with depression often struggle to find a motivation to get out of bed in the morning, so the responsibility of a plant to water is a perfectly valid reason. Flowers can also brighten your garden or windowsill, and the world needs a bit of brightness and colour at the moment. Connecting with nature is not only therapeutic for you, but also provides a positive impact on the environment – planting pollinator-friendly blooms will help to improve the declining bee populations, a vital part of our eco-system.
Whether you practice through meditation, yoga, or simply sat at your desk, mindfulness is a great method of switching your mind off to become calm and present. If you are new to mindfulness, there are plenty of apps that offer meditation sessions you can complete at any time, anywhere. Also, if you struggle with sleep, mindfulness is a great way of improving sleep quality, and there are a number of apps with specific sleep sessions.
We are lucky to live in a generation where we can keep connected to friends and family across the world through social media. Although it’s not the same as face-to-face interaction, it’s the next best thing. It’s important not to lock yourself away from the outside world and keep in contact with friends and family you can’t see. Staying connected will help maintain a sense of normality to your life, and it can be an opportunity to talk about your anxieties with other people – you will be surprised how many of us are feeling the same way.
Remember, this pandemic will pass. It’s not going to last forever, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The journey to normality might seem overwhelming right now, but make sure you take each day as it comes. Don’t spend time thinking about an uncertain future – no one knows what might happen! Take each day, each week, slowly and gradually. Take peace in knowing the world is going through this difficult time together – and you are not alone.
This article was a guest feature from our partner platform: The Urban Journal.
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