Building Up Your Toolbox: Quick strategies for dealing with anxiety
Uncertainties and unknowns can feel overwhelming for children and adults and the rapidly changing situation with covid-19 is no exception. Everyone (no matter what age) reacts differently to stressful situations but having a few tangible coping skills in your toolbox can make you and those you care about, stronger both mentally and physically.
Coping skills don’t have to be time consuming activities that require materials and supplies. Actually, in general, coping skills are quite the opposite. Coping skills are simple strategies for solving personal and interpersonal problems that contribute to stress and anxiety.
Lets chat coping skills specific to Covid-19.
First, pay attention to how you are feeling and note symptoms of anxiety. Although symptoms vary from person to person they may include things such as rapid heart rate, stomachache, headache, sweaty palms, or consistent distressing thoughts. If you notice any of these symptoms, your body may be telling you that it needs a break from watching, reading, or listening to news stories (including social media). Consistent exposure to the news and other updates may cause heightened anxiety...give yourself a break.
In general, during these next few weeks, try and give yourself some physical wellbeing. Studies show that lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety. Despite changing schedules, try to keep a regular sleep and wake schedule and get the recommended amount of sleep. Get exercise regularly - take small walks or find yoga on youtube to keep your body moving.
Throughout the day, take regular breaks to check in with yourself and breathe. A great strategy for focusing on grounded breath is 4,7,8 breathing. You can do this with your kids too!
Take a big breath in and while you are breathing in, count slowly to 4.
Hold your breath at the top of the inhale and count to 7.
Now slowly exhale and count down from 8 while exhaling.
This deep breathing resets the flight or fight feeling that can cause anxiety and lets the body know it is not in immediate danger. The heart rate will slow, breathing will return to normal, the muscles will relax and you will be able to move forward in a state of wellbeing. Practice this deep breathing technique as many times as you need to throughout the day - even when you are not feeling extremely stressed.
We hope that these few tips help ground you as we move through the next few weeks together. Be sure to continue to check our blog as we will update often with more strategies for you and your family.