Anxiety impacts many individuals throughout the world daily. It affects a person’s actions, thoughts and can even present itself in physical symptoms. Stress can be so severe that it becomes debilitating to individuals. Physical symptoms can range from a racing heart, sweating to an inability to focus. Mentally, anxiety can create feelings of doom and helplessness. Others may express concern in the form of irritability or impatience. The past year has resulted in heightened anxiety levels in many people around the world. A feeling of uncertainty, fear, and confusion has caused elevated anxiety levels.
Now, more than ever, many aspects of life can feel like they are out of your control. The current state of the world and adjusting to our new normal has many feeling stressed, anxious, and out of control. As human beings, we crave security. We strive to feel safe and in control of our decisions and life choices. Our routines became altered in the past year and created a sense of uncertainty. We are now adjusting to a new life where no social engagement and virtual connections are the new normal. To help alleviate some increased feelings of anxiety, it is critical to establish new routines and manage stress in these current circumstances. Read on to find out some of the best practices to manage anxiety in our new normal.
25. Control what can be controlled.
2020 in general has increased our anxiety for many people and caused longer timeframes to adjust to the changes. You may have shifted to working from home, which creates its own challenges such as technology, creating a quiet environment, and determining how your role will change. Your children may have started to do remote learning, which also poses hurdles in itself. Many parents are now required to become teachers and help ensure their children stay on track with their education, all while shuffling their work responsibilities. Not to mention that requiring students to do remote learning has many parents struggling to find childcare now that their children are home during the workday. The multitude of changes simultaneously can increase anxiety.
As we adjust to what our new normal will be, there will be many aspects of life that will feel out of our control. The increased feelings of being out-of-control can heighten anxious feelings, so it is essential to focus on what you can manage or plan for and take charge of those items. For instance, perhaps you can reorganize your guest room to be a quiet office space for you to focus on your work. You may also be able to map out your child’s coursework for the week, so there is a plan already prepared. To manage your anxiety, try to focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot.
24. Plan every day things to the best of your ability.
Throughout this past year, you may be feeling uncertain and fearful of what could come. For someone with anxiety, it can be helpful to plan. Start by writing a list of what you need to do for the day or week ahead. Sort the items by priority. As you accomplish one task, check it off and move onto the next. You will find that doing this can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and control over where you are spending your time and energy. Another way to plan is to decide what your meals will be for the upcoming week.
Make a list before going to the store. Doing this will help you feel less anxious throughout the week because you will have already decided and prepared. Another thing to keep in mind is your past anxious tendencies. Perhaps you know that when you are feeling anxious, you experience panic attacks. If you worry that they will possibly return, prepare yourself, and practice mindful exercises to prepare. If you know what your past anxious tendencies are, you can be better prepared for them in the future.
Like many, you may find yourself in a new work environment. If able, maybe your job now requires you to work from home. However, perhaps your career is one that cannot be performed from your home. To help slow the spread, many workplaces are revisiting the idea of working from home. However, many are also more lenient and flexible to flexible working arrangements if people need to return. If you are struggling to work or get your tasks completed on time, you may wish to speak to your workplace or manager.
There may be alternative shifts, projects, or responsibilities that you can tackle in order. For instance, with many children now doing remote learning, you may ask to work varied hours during the week and add some hours on the weekend to assist both aspects of your life. If your anxiety becomes too overwhelming, you may wish to pursue a leave of absence from your work to take some time away from additional responsibilities and focus on your health. It is okay to reach out to your manager and let them know what is going on to alleviate some anxiety symptoms.
22. You can’t do everything. Pace yourself each day.
When quarantine and lockdown began, we all found ourselves thrown into a new normal. For anxious people, the change in routine beyond your control can be incredibly overwhelming and contribute to heightened feelings. As some restrictions loosen up and have since been reinstated, we are consistently adjusting to a new normal. It is important to remember that you need to move at your own pace during all of these changes. You must find a delicate balance between not letting others push you and not making an excuse not to push yourself.
The previous year impacted everyone in unique and different ways, so you also have to recognize that not everyone will move at the same pace you are. If you are only comfortable going to the stores in the early morning hours when there are fewer shoppers, then do that. If you are not comfortable going into the store and prefer to do grocery pickup, do that. As stores and workplaces open, within your means, move at a relaxed pace, and that will not further exacerbate anxious feelings.
21. Don’t let your mind wander to the ‘what-ifs’ in life.
It can be challenging to accept that we do not know how long this crisis will last, how others will act, or what will happen in our homes and communities. Anxious people find extreme comfort in knowing or predicting the future and what’s to come. It eliminates or reduces the risk of uncertainty. However, it is crucial to be mindful of letting our minds wander too much on unknowable answers and circumstances that we cannot possibly control. It will get us nowhere except feeling more anxious and overwhelmed. Taking back our desire for certainty is easier said than done.
If you find yourself starting to think about what is or what could happen in the future, work to ground yourself in the current moment. Try focusing on your breathing and the present moment. Take note of the images, sounds, and smells around you. Continue to breathe in and out slowly. That will bring your body back to the present and in a calm state. If you find yourself caught up in fear of what might happen, try to think of three things you can control and shift your focus back to those. For instance, you can control how you will reduce your own risk by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and limiting interactions.
20. To alleviate your anxiety, bring items that are guaranteed back into your focus.
Many things are uncertain right now. Some of these include what others are doing, how long this will last if businesses will survive, and whether our loved ones will stay safe and healthy. Uncertainty is one of the top leading triggers to anxiety because things feel entirely out of their control. To combat those things, you have to shift your mindset and think to bring the things that are assured back into your focus. There are still many things to be thankful and hopeful for. It is essential to take time to appreciate those things as they happen. For instance, perhaps you completed a work project while working from home. You should celebrate that accomplishment.
On the other hand, maybe being in quarantine has forced you to find a new hobby such as painting or crafting that has allowed you to relax. It is important to be appreciative and take note of these things. It may seem minuscule now, but it is imperative to shift your focus and not lose sight of them. When you wake up each morning, write down three things that you are sure about. They can be as small as what you are having for breakfast that day. It will help train your mind to think about these things and ensure you do not lose sight of them.
19. Try varying your routine to find what works best for you and find a new normal.
It may sound contradictory to someone with anxiety. In normal circumstances, routines help provide structure and stability because they live little left to the unknown. You may have every hour of your day mapped out or do the same things every day. It may also be that you visit the same grocery store or mall every time you go shopping. A routine leaves little left for interpretation or imagination. However, as we all learn to navigate this new normal that we live in, it may be beneficial to vary your routines a little bit to find what works for you. Doing so can help you interact with different people and different situations.
If one grocery store is giving you anxiety, try another one. In the past, there was a tendency to be fewer individuals shopping in the early mornings. Now, many people are going to grocery stores earlier to avoid a mass rush of people. If your regular grocery store time is busier than usual and increases your anxiety, try going at a different time or trying grocery pick up to limit your interactions with others. There can be an adjustment period where you find your new normal routine, but it can be well worth it in the long run.
18. Find a new relaxation practice that works for you.
Specific stressors usually heighten anxiety levels. Many everyday stressors include uncertainty and instability. You may already have certain things that help you relax. That might consist of enjoying a cup of coffee in complete silence before you start your day or perhaps winding down at night with a good book. However, these times can call for new practices. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, certain relaxation practices can help shift your anxiety levels into a state of calmness. Many people have long supported relaxation techniques that include deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.
These methods have been said to help bring you back into a state of calmness and equilibrium. If these are not practices you already incorporate into your life, you may want to consider adding them into your new routine. The consistent approach has shown to bring the most significant benefits. Reach out to a loved one or friend that already partakes or utilize the internet. There are many videos and articles on how to begin these practices and complete them to bring a sense of tranquility and calm back into your daily life. Set aside a few minutes in the morning before tackling the stressors of the day. Likewise, you can use a few minutes at the end of the day before settling in for the night to relax.
17. It is still critical to look for the good in life.
As each day and month passes of our new normal, it is essential to acknowledge what is bad and good. It can be easy to focus on all that is not going right or viewed as unfavorable. For instance, staying away from our loved ones or having to cancel your large, typical family holiday gatherings. However, it is just as important to acknowledge the good in the situation. It is okay to understand and recognize that while some situations are not ideal, they are also positive somehow.
While we may be sad that our typical holiday family gatherings do not look the same, it is crucial to recognize that by doing so, we are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is safe. It can be challenging to see the positives because they can be overlooked by all that is not going right. You must create an intentional decision to look for those things and not lose sight of them in all of the uncertainty of our new normal. When we intentionally think positive thoughts, it helps our minds become more natural in doing so. We are training ourselves to find the positives even amid the difficulties of life.
16. Stay connected to family and friends – even if it’s virtually.
As instinctive social beings, humans are made for connections. The feelings of isolation and loneliness can further contribute to feelings of anxiety. To combat those feelings, you have to make even more of a conscious effort to stay connected. Now that many of us are not going into work and are not spending as much time in-person with our friends and family, we have to make it more of a conscious priority. The good news is that thanks to all of the technology we have these days, we can still have some feelings of connectedness to our loved ones.
You can schedule routine phone calls or video calls to interact. Video chats are particularly helpful in combating anxiety and feelings of loneliness because, unlike phone calls, you can see your loved ones. Many people also use social media to stay connected to loved ones near and far. It can also serve as a resource for what is going on in our communities and country. While you work to make more of a deliberate effort to stay connected, you should not let the negative news headlines or ‘new normal’ dominate every conversation. It is vital to laugh still and focus on other aspects of your life.
Rather than predicting what might happen in the future and enhancing your anxious thoughts, shift your attention to what is happening right now. You can interrupt the negative beliefs and assumptions by being fully connected to what is occurring in the present. Overthinking about what could happen in the future takes away from your joy in the present moment. Furthermore, it can also increase the feelings of hopelessness and anxiety about the days ahead. You can begin shifting your focus by practicing mindfulness. With intentional, routine practice, mindfulness can help change your focus and mindset to create a stronger appreciation for what is occurring currently.
Learning to enjoy what is happening in the present can help provide a sense of calmness while boosting your mood and reducing anxiety levels. Like many other practices, mindfulness can require practice. You can learn more by following an audio meditation or by adding it to an exercise routine. It may not happen immediately, and it may not feel natural. However, if you stick with it, you will see and feel the benefit of this mental habit. The more you practice mindfulness, the more your fears will be minimized, and it will become a more natural, healthy habit.
Staying active can help you release feelings of anxiety. Exercise can occur in a multitude of ways, including walking, lifting weights, or cycling. Besides, exercise releases endorphins that release feel-good chemicals in the body. Endorphins can help boost your mood and reduce your stress levels. Although many people are staying home nowadays, there are still many ways to remain active. The internet offers an immense amount of exercise videos available for free that you can do with minimal to no equipment.
Exercises such as yoga do not require any equipment and can be quickly done in the comfort of your home. Not only will exercise help to alleviate your anxiety levels, but you will also reap the physical health benefits. Try incorporating some form of exercise into your daily routine. The critical idea is that you do not try to do too much in the beginning. Start small, and after a week, try to increase the duration. As the days pass, exercising will become easier. In fact, as the days pass, you may find extreme comfort in your part of the day where you exercise. There is no right or wrong way to exercise. The most important thing is just to get your body moving.
13. Holistic therapies are an excellent option for managing your anxiety levels.
Holistic therapy is an alternative practice that aims to address the person as a whole instead. It attempts to heal the individual in regards to their mind, spirit, and body. The goal is to gain awareness of the connections between the three aspects while developing a deeper understanding of themselves. It can often lead to improved self-esteem and self-awareness. In turn, individuals can alleviate some of their anxiety levels. Holistic therapy involves a variety of practices that you can choose from.
One of the most common for anxiety involves crystal healing that can be effective in grounding a person. As a result, anxiety levels can be reduced. Another simple but incredibly effective practice includes self-massage. It offers tremendous benefits that can not only ground you but provide an opportunity to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings truthfully. Try massaging the pressure points like your temples or your feet at some point throughout the day. You will be pleasantly surprised at how the power of touch can physically relax you. The effects of relaxation and moments of silence with yourself will help reduce your anxious thoughts and focus on the present moment.
12. Build up your anxiety tolerance by challenging yourself in new ways.
Although routine, certainty, and stability are often thought to help anxious individuals, it can also help build up your tolerance. Start by doing something that challenges you once a week. If it doesn’t go well the first time, it’s okay, but don’t give up. Keep a note of what you have achieved or enjoyed, and you might find a new hobby for yourself. Many challenges can become from your need for certainty. Some of those behaviors might include needing reassurance from others, procrastinating, or repeatedly checking things. You can challenge these common behaviors to alleviate the discomfort of uncertainty.
Since life can change at any moment, it is not always a bad thing. When a situation occurs that appears less than ideal, make a conscious effort to find one positive thing from the problem. Over-worrying, micromanaging, and procrastinating will not change the outcome of the situation. Instead, it will further fuel your worry and anxiety. It is easy to overestimate the chances of something negative occurring while simultaneously underestimating your ability to handle it if it does. However, don’t sell yourself short. By challenging your need for certainty, you can start to reduce negative behaviors, free up your time and energy, and reduce your anxiety levels.
During the times of isolation, quarantine, and social distancing, it is understandable that you might feel more alone than ever. It is essential to know that we are all navigating what our new normal will look like. As previously mentioned, human beings are social creatures, so we must make an intentional effort to stay connected during these times. Make every effort to give yourself grace during these times and know that it is okay if your anxiety levels are higher than average. Even if it may feel like it, you are never alone in these challenges.
Although many things look different, you can still take advantage of plenty of resources. Now, more than ever, you must take care of your body and spirit by applying stress management strategies and being realistic in your thoughts and feelings. It is okay to feel extremely anxious or stressed. No one could have predicted all that is occurring, so it is only natural to learn to navigate it to the best of our abilities. Give yourself grace and be kind as you work through the new normal.
10. Talk to those you trust and share your anxieties.
During these challenging times, it is essential never to dismiss or silence your thoughts and feelings. In conjunction with giving yourself grace, it is critical not to be too hard on yourself. Everyone is experiencing this new normal in their way. There should be small comfort in knowing that everyone is navigating this together. If you are feeling alone, you should reach out to someone you trust. That might be your parents, siblings, or a close friend.
If you are not comfortable discussing your feelings with those close to you, seek a professional’s help. You may quickly realize that many people are feeling the same way. By knocking down those barriers and walls, you are opening yourself up for conversations to increase connections. You might also find online support groups for those who are feeling the same. Many people are seeking some advice or a sympathetic ear during these new times. Emotions are contagious, so it’s essential to surround yourself with those who are going to be thoughtful, level-headed, and helpful listeners. Doing so helps limit and decrease feelings of anxiety and isolation.
The new normal is continuously evolving based on the current state. That can also contribute to increased anxiety and uncertainty feelings because you do not know if the next change will be tomorrow or next week. While trying to find some comfort in what is going on, it can help take time out to partake in activities you enjoy. You may enjoy reading, so pick up a good book and spend an hour reading. You might prefer to find a good movie on Netflix and cuddle up on the couch.
With as much time as everyone is spending at home now, this would be an excellent opportunity to find a new hobby. You might enjoy taking up crafting or painting art. What activity you choose does not matter. What is most important is that you find something that you can not only enjoy, but that can minimize your worries, even if just for a short time. You might have to test out a few activities to find one you enjoy but stick with it. Once you find that special hobby, you will find yourself prioritizing time to do it.
8. Relieve some of your anxiety by planning for what you can.
There are many unknowns in our new normal. Will business shut down? What about the schools? Will yourself or someone you love become ill or have to self-quarantine? There are so many unknown possibilities that it can drive a person crazy. To be proactive in addressing and relieving some of the anxiety that comes with these unknowns, you should plan for what you can. Start by drafting a list of your specific worries. Then, make a list of potential solutions to each of these concerns.
It is important to note that you do not have to come up with a perfect solution but rather identify what could help you cope with these situations should they arise. For this exercise to be successful, you will also have to do some self-reflection and be honest with yourself. You may not be able to control every situation or worry, and it’s essential to recognize that some may always be beyond your control. Center your focus on the ones you can control by drafting an action plan. Don’t dwell on this action plan and try not to revisit it unless your situation has dramatically changed, and it may require adjustments, but find comfort in knowing you have a plan in place.
7. Getting out in nature can provide a peaceful calmness.
Sunshine and fresh air are natural mood boosters. Many of us have been social distancing and isolating for extended periods. Staying inside too long can further contribute to heightened anxiety levels and feelings of uneasiness. One of the easiest ways to help combat these feelings is to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Try going for a short walk around your neighborhood or visit a local park. If you have a dog, take them outside and play catch for a little bit. Both of you will benefit from this small exercise.
Sunshine provides vitamins that are necessary for boosting your mood. As we near the winter months, it may not be as easy for some to get outside in nature. However, relish in the beautiful sunny days and bundle up to get a little fresh air. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much better you feel after spending even a short amount of time outside. Enjoy the sounds of nature, such as the birds chirping or the water’s waves. The natural sounds can provide a sense of calmness and tranquility in the chaos of our new normal.
6. Limit the frequency in which you check for updates on your phone.
We all wish to be informed and educated on the constant changes that are occurring around us. Guidelines and situations are changing from one day to the next. However, it is crucial to recognize that obsessively checking for updates can further heighten your anxiety levels and lead to increased feelings of distress and uncertainty. To help minimize and manage those feelings, you should be sure to limit how often you check for updates. Constantly checking for updates can be somewhat counterproductive. It can efficiently fuel your anxiety rather than decreasing it.
You know yourself best, so you will have to determine what your limits are. The limits are going to be different for everyone, so there is no right or wrong. The vital thing to monitor is that you should step away from the media if you are feeling overwhelmed. You may want to consider limiting your time to a particular duration and at a specific time. For instance, you might want to give yourself 30 minutes when you wake up to catch up on the latest news or maybe 30 minutes before you go to bed for the night. Either way, be sure to find what suits you best.
5. Anxiety right now is widespread. Do not let it control you.
As we head into the new normal where restrictions are gradually easing, we face new challenges. Even with the anticipation of resuming our prior activities, there can still be difficulties that impact our mental health. It is necessary to acknowledge that many of our feelings are reasonable, given the new territory. Thus, you could even expect that these feelings will arise. However, it is also important to note that even though the anxious feelings are likely to occur, they build tolerance that we can move through these fears.
It would help if you also were sure to recognize that not everyone processes situations or feelings the same. Comparison has been said to be the thief of joy, so you should even acknowledge that your concerns, feelings, and worries are valid. The most critical piece of acknowledging these worries is not to let them control you. We have already mentioned many ways to help alleviate some of your anxiety, including exercise or new hobbies. Take things at your own pace and challenge yourself to shift your mindset from one that dwells on worries to one that focuses on the positives. Celebrate big and small victories in your life.
4. Technology can be leveraged to help us stay connected to our loved ones.
Social distancing can heighten your anxiety by increasing feelings of loneliness and uncertainty. However, as we previously mentioned, it is important to look at the positive in the situation. Social distancing ensures that our loved ones and we are staying as safe and healthy as possible. With that said, it is still understandable that you or your close friends and family might experience moments of loneliness, which can further enhance anxiety levels. Technology allows us all to stay connected virtually while remaining safe in our homes.
Many avenues include email, phone calls, and video calls. Your grandparents might need a tutorial on how to utilize technology, but once they get the hang of it, they will be able to stay connected with the entire family too. You can host virtual video chats on Zoom so that you still get to experience dinners and holidays with your loved ones. Human connection has been proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. Even though this new normal is unique, it is still essential to learn new, innovative ways to stay virtually connected.
3. New routines in the midst of the new normal are good.
This new normal has many changes from our daily lives before this past year. Our routine may have been one that we were comfortable with and didn’t have to change too often. When the world fell apart in 2020, everything changed. As things reopen and a new normal is established, another new routine is necessary. Your daily routine may be completely different than it was before. For anxious individuals, routine and structure can be incredibly calming and peaceful. It provides a sense of control over what is about to come from the day.
As you adjust to the new normal, you can still have a routine, but it may require adjusting. You might find that you are adding time for your new hobby or some time for some meditation to relax throughout the day. If you are now working from home or you have children who may be doing remote learning, you might find yourself blocking time in your day to tend to those responsibilities. To prepare for the day, try adding an inspirational quote to your daily checklist.
2. Gather credible information to help you with your anxiety.
It’s important to stay informed of what is going on, but there is a fine line between staying informed and obsessively checking. You should stay on top of any changes occurring in your area to ensure you are adhering to any updated protocol. However, it is essential to be mindful of where you are getting your information and how often you are checking. There is much misinformation going around that can only enhance your anxiety levels.
Be sure that you are sticking to credible sources and only gathering factual, accurate information. Facebook is not the best place to collect your information because misinformation can quickly spread. If you struggle with obsessively checking, try having a trusted loved one share any critical updates that you should know about. They can share any updates pertinent to you to ensure you are doing your part in staying safe and healthy. Do your best to avoid any dramatic information circulated in the news, as it will only fuel anxious thoughts.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, regardless of the current state of the world, is to take care of yourself from the inside out. If you’re not sure where to start, try getting plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep can enhance anxious feelings. Set a goal for yourself to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you have a hard time winding down at night, research ways to help you relax and get ready for bed.
The second step is to ensure that you are eating a healthy diet. Avoid processed foods that can only cause you to lack energy. Instead, add foods rich in omega-3 fats, which will provide a natural mood booster. Self-care practices can also come in the form of a long bath or listening to your favorite music. There are many ways to care for yourself, so you just have to find the one that works for you. No matter what life throws at you, establishing these healthy self-care practices can help alleviate anxiety and prepare you to tackle any issues or situations thrown your way.