Certainly, we all recognize that these are extremely stressful times. There are health concerns about getting the virus, economic insecurity, family pressures, and daycare anxieties. While some people say that since the entire world is going through this at the same time, it should make us feel better — it doesn’t. Just because other people are experiencing something difficult doesn’t necessarily help to alleviate your fears or stressors.
What does help to alleviate these fears and stresses? Let’s take a look at some ways you can use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to work through some of these issues. Of course, if it’s not enough to read an article and practice these ideas on your own, you should certainly seek out professional help from a licensed therapist. Don’t let your anxiety or stress get to a level where you aren’t functioning or aren’t sleeping because of fears and worries.
Of course, we can’t explore everything that CBT offers in this article, but we can give readers a feel for it and offer a few tips. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts and feelings are interconnected with how our body feels. When we feel anxiety, for instance, our body may go into a fight or flight mode where we will have a racing heart, shortness of breath or sweaty palms. This is an example of how our thoughts might manifest in physical symptoms. Here are five suggestions for ways you can use techniques from CBT in your life right now.
- News consumption: This is a massive amount of news out there about the virus. Checking the news too often can create feelings of anxiety and physical manifestations of that anxiety. Limit your news exposure to a few minutes in the morning and in the evening and make sure you are relying on reputable sources for your information.
2. Symptom checking: One way that people create their own anxiety is by constantly checking for symptoms. If you have a sore throat or you cough one time, you may suddenly think that you’ve got COVID-19. Then your head will spin off into all of the worst-case scenarios and you’ll find yourself creating anxiety. When you find yourself doing this, remind yourself that you’re doing it and take some deep breaths. When we recognize how we are creating our own anxiety it will often alleviate those symptoms.
3. Keep your connections: Whether you are choosing to see other people or you’re still staying close to home, you probably aren’t seeing your loved ones to the level that you enjoyed before the virus. It’s very important not to feel isolated and to keep up your connections. You can still send messages to your friends and family, share emails, call or video call them and make sure you keep your connections. If you are comfortable, you can invite people over for a socially distanced chance to catch up outdoors.
4. Exercise: Keep exercising even through this pandemic. Exercise releases endorphins which make us feel happier. It also allows us to use up adrenaline which tends to add to anxiety. Exercise is a great way to create a feeling of stability in these times. Whether you can get out to the gym or just take a walk (or even do a video at home) find something that you can do and stick to it.
5. Routine: Many of us have had our routines thrown off with COVID-19. Some people have stopped working from offices for now and are working from home. Others have lost their jobs and aren’t working at all. Whatever changes you’ve experienced, it’s vitally important to build your own routines in your daily life right now. Make sure that you get out of bed in the morning and get dressed each day around the same time. Set a daily schedule for yourself and try to follow it. Eat balanced meals around the same hours each day and get into bed at night at a set time. Our bodies respond to routine and crave it in our lives. Particularly at a time when we may feel that there is so much out of our control, it’s important to set parameters to feel in control in ways that we can.