Stressed out? Exhausted? Having a hard time getting to sleep?
You are not alone!
The Canadian Association for Mental Health tells us that even when we are safe and well, living in the midst of a global pandemic is stressful! Our normal lives and routines have been disrupted; many of us are missing seeing and hugging family and friends; in addition, we still have no time line and so planning for the future is difficult. It is normal to feel worried or anxious, to have trouble sleeping, to have difficulty getting up in the morning, and to feel more tired than usual.
Joy Wendling, in consultation with a local therapist has compiled some simple helpful exercises that we can do at home to help lower feelings of anxiety during this time apart. Remember, we are in this together. Do not hesitate to pick up the phone to call me or Meghan if you need a listening ear. And hold tight to the old Persian adage: “This too shall pass.”
Simple Coping Tips for dealing with Covid 19 Anxiety
Compiled by Joy Wendling
- Take a deep breath in and let it out as slowly as possible. Repeat.
- Breathe in, saying (or thinking) good air IN; breathe out, saying (or thinking) anxiety (or sadness or another word that describes what you are feeling) OUT
- Stand and move your hips like you would with a hula hoop.
- Name 3 things for which you are grateful today. Focus on gratitude. Download the free app Gratitude.
- Ground yourself. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Imagine you are sinking into it. Think of yourself as having a firm foundation and hold your head up high.
- Practice mindfulness. Focus on one task (eg washing dishes) and pay attention to sights, scents and sounds surrounding you. Slow down what you are doing and focus on the task for as long as possible.
- Practice mindfulness walking. Place each foot by starting with the heel first and gradually roll your foot to your toes. Focus on each step you take.
- Breathe in good air; breathe out, sending love and compassion to the world. Repeat several times.
- Colouring has become a popular pastime as well as a form of meditation. com has free downloadable sheets to colour; clipart-library.com has Celtic knots to download to colour (not a secure site), and a search for free colouring will turn up other sites. Colouring is a very soothing activity. You can also spend your colouring time focusing your thoughts on and/or praying for someone.
- Be like a tree: Stand tall and proud; sink your roots into Mother Earth;drink a lot of water. Stay grounded in nature by hugging a tree and giving it all of your worries. (Indigenous teaching)
- Roll a dice. Think of that number of things that have made you feel good.
- Count the number of 45 degree angles in the room you are in.
- How many words can you make from the C.S. Lewis quote “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”? You could do the same with a sentence from the Bible or a favourite book.
- How many songs with the word ‘heart’ can you name?
- Find the softest, most cuddly thing you can and give it a big hug. Notice how comforting that feels. Think of hugging a loved one you cannot be with right now.
- Give yourself a “butterfly” hug – cross your arms across your chest and gently pat your hands on your upper arms.
- Select some of your most comforting photographs and focus on them and on the good memories they bring.
- Sing your favourite cheerful or uplifting song until you feel better.
- When frustrated, punch a pillow, or go somewhere quiet and scream/yell loudly. Let it out.
- To meditate in more traditional ways try: Focus totally on your breath, breathe in to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 8. Set a timer for 5 minutes and gradually increase the time. Focus on, and repeat, a thought or phrase; eg the Lord is my shepherd. Again, use a timer.
- Download the free app InsightTimer for many meditations and helpful articles
Dealing with an anxious friend?
Here’s a few basics to help you help others….
- Resist the urge to give advice (even the advice above). If you find yourself saying “You should just…..” – try to bite your tongue, and just listen.
- Remind your friend that feeling anxious or tired or grumpy right now, is a normal response to a stressful situation. Affirm their feelings.
- Say “I love you.” and “You are not alone.” Sometimes, these words are said most clearly with actions. Phone them. Go for a socially distanced walk. Drop a note in the mail.
- Remind them that while we don’t know when this is all going to end, it will not last forever. Eventually, this time will be a memory.
- Finally, listen, but make sure you give yourself space and room also. Helping someone with anxiety is tiring. You do not need to be accessible 24/7. Be supportive, but allow your friend the space to work through his or her anxiety.
- Pray for them.
- Recognize when your friend needs more than a friend: if the person is harming themselves or talking about harming themselves or others, call the Canadian Mental Health Association’s help line: REACH OUT at 519-433-2023 / 1-866-933-2023.