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In this article, you’ll learn about:
- The negative effects of anxiety & stress on your body
- How giving yourself a designated “worry time” can reduce your overall anxiety
- Why taking a “social media break” is good for your mental health
- What watching a kitten video does for your mental well-being
- Simple indoor breathing & grounding techniques
- What Vagaro’s CEO is doing to help you get through this crisis
Right now, everywhere you turn there are news, updates, and projections about COVID-19. This national health crisis is disrupting life as we know it, from work to your social life and everything in-between. So, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about the immediate health concerns and the long-term effects of Coronavirus. In this article, we’ll guide you through different ways to cope with your anxiety and stress, even (and especially!) if you’re in an area with a shelter in place order.
How Anxiety & Stress Affect Your Body
To put it simply, stress is your body’s built-in response to immediate danger—so it makes sense that you’re feeling stressed out right now. Anxiety—the apprehension or fear of what’s to come—is your body’s natural reaction to stress. Anxiety often shows up in intrusive thoughts, nightmares, panic attacks, and obsessive thoughts or behaviors. Like stress, anxiety is a biological response that’s meant to be short-term. After all, stress and anxiety are what kept the cavemen alive! That means that anxiety and stress are two sides of the same coin, and both can have a negative effect on your body, as well as your peace of mind.
The symptoms of stress and anxiety can range from mild symptoms such as headaches and muscle tension to severe symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat. Over time, these symptoms can take a toll on your whole body. So while during the COVID-19 crisis, anxiety and stress are a biological reaction to the threat, they’re also a reaction that can be controlled, so the crisis doesn’t compromise your health. Let’s get started on busting that anxiety!
Allow Yourself a Daily “Worry Time”
It might sound counterintuitive to relieve anxiety by worrying, but it makes sense. Here’s how: allowing yourself to have a set, scheduled “worry time” reduces the pressure of trying to be strong in the face of danger. Many people are juggling worries about the Coronavirus, from taking care of the family, figuring out income, to what life will be like after the crisis passes. Knowing that you have an outlet for all that anxiety during your “worry time” can help you hold it together. Think of “worry time” like a “pity party”—allow yourself to get all your feelings out, and then move on for the rest of the day.
Take Social Media Breaks
First off: If you feel yourself pulled to Google symptoms and refresh your news feed every 15 minutes, put your parental locks or internet settings to the test and restrict access to these pages until the crisis passes. Next up: social media. While the country is practicing social distancing, with some parts being under shelter in place orders, social media can feel like a lifeline to other people. And that’s true! But use it in small, controlled doses.
Because social media, as we all know, is also full of misinformation, trolls, and doomsday planners. None of which helps relieve stress—they actually increase anxiety! So, like “worry time”, allow yourself a dedicated block of social media time, or break up your social media time into 10- or 15-minute blocks throughout the day. After you’ve spent your block, instead try video chatting with friends and family, make phone calls, send emails, or write a letter. Instead of filtering your remote connections through social media, make them as personal as you can.
Relax with a Kitten Video
Did you know there’s a proven connection between stress relief and watching videos of cute animals? It’s true! Not only does watching videos of cute animals immediately relieve anxiety, it also helps you build resistance to future stressors and sources of anxiety. So, if you’re in a position where you’re cooped up indoors and stressing out about the future, watching videos of cute animals is helpful and enjoyable. How does it work, you ask? Animal videos lift your mood immediately, and in psychology terms, it’s called “inducing positive effect.” What that means is that seeing a kitten video makes you happy, and by making you happy, your brain allows you to see more resources, more outcomes, and more solutions. In short, a kitten video can show you potential, instead of negativity. If you’re tired of scrolling YouTube, here are a few zoos, aquariums, and pet rescue organizations that have live feeds to watch:
Try Simple Indoor Breathing & Grounding Exercises
Since many of the symptoms of stress and anxiety take you out of your body (dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc.), breathing and grounding exercises can put you back into your body. Luckily, there are a lot of easy breathing and grounding exercises you can do indoors.
- Meditation. You don’t need a lot of space
to do it, and there’s no fancy equipment required (unless you want to try an
app.) If you’re looking for a guided meditation, try looking through podcasts
to find one that appeals to you. Otherwise, all you need to meditate
is a quiet space where you can sit uninterrupted and allow your mind to empty
as you focus on only your breathing.
- Controlled Breathing. This one is even
easier than mediation, and you can do it anywhere, anytime you feel anxiety
creeping in. There are many controlled
breathing exercises that you can try out if you find the practice helps
you. But the easiest one to start with is the relaxing, centering deep
breathing technique. Here’s how to do it: Draw your elbows backward slightly,
allowing your chest to expand. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your
lungs to fill. Hold the breath to the count of 5, then slowly exhale the breath
through your nose.
- Yoga. Even if you’re not a “yoga person,”
learning a few basic yoga positions can help bring you back to your body when
anxiety starts to pull you away from it. Some of the recommended
yoga poses for anxiety relief include the bridge pose, cat pose, cow pose, and
extended puppy pose.
We know that you’re stressed out and anxious, because our businesses, our country, and our way of life have never faced a challenge like this before. But we believe in the old saying that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s why Vagaro is here to be your rising tide. We’re working round the clock to figure out solutions to help you when you need it most. Together, we’re going to get through this and see the sunrise on the other side of this storm.