Every day seems to bring more troubling news, and it is important to know what is going on and make wise decisions for yourself and your loved ones. But the old adage holds true: you can’t take care of others unless you have taken care of yourself first. There are some steps that each of us can take to address our own anxiety levels and overall emotional health.
Everyone is encouraging thorough hand washing, and if you have stepped up your washing regimen, you probably have sore, rough hands at this point, and perhaps a touch of eczema or other rash. Be on the lookout for lotions that indicate on the bottle that they restore the skin’s protective barrier, as this will help to heal and protect your skin and help those rough hands feel better.
Use lotion after every hand washing, but try not to let up on the handwashing just because your hands may be sore. Here’s why it works: first, when you have seen images of the coronavirus, you have probably noted that it has spiky little proteins all over it. They cause it to adhere to surfaces, and the mechanics of a good scrubbing are required to dislodge it.
Second, the virus has a liposomal coating – essentially, a fat. Soap will help to break down the fat that protects the virus and cause it to wash away. Simply washing with water will not accomplish this.
Take a News Break
No, not a break to catch the news, but a break from the news. This will take some commitment and self-discipline for avowed news junkies, but the news these days is feeding too heavily into fears.
Make some promises to yourself: avoid leaving the TV on in the background with the news on, quit laying in bed at night and reading the news on your phone, and delay checking the news first thing in the morning. Give yourself permission to check in at a couple of times per day that work for you, but otherwise, do yourself a favor and turn it off.
This holds true for financial news as well. Remember that historically the market moves up – it did after 9-11, after the dot.com bust, after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, and it will again. Some experts are predicting that the market uptick will begin in earnest by July. Investing is a long-term game, and time is on your side. Avoid rash or emotional decisions with your money!
A Little Escapism is in Order
One of the best cures for anxiety and anecdotes for fear is a good laugh. When you find that your fears are getting the better of you, take it as a sign that you need a break and engage in an activity that will lighten your spirits.
Maybe it’s time to stream a favorite old comedy, get lost in a good book, and intentionally find other ways to redirect your thought life. Choose the company of people who will have this effect, and purpose to be a calm voice when others are experiencing anxiety. You’ll benefit as much as they do!
Your favorite hobby is also a great escape, so don’t neglect it or the benefits it provides you. Other healthy escapes are the music you find uplifting and exercise to burn off nervous energy.
The Spiritual Side
The Revealed audience is a diverse group of people, and not everyone’s spirituality will look the same. However, it is true that most people have a spiritual life and engage in activities to cultivate it.
Now is the time to lean into the wisdom and practices that bring you peace. Carve a space for this into each day, and preferably begin and end each day by nourishing your spirit. Use your spirituality to bring comfort and maintain perspective.
Take a Deep Breath
Actually, take several! When we become fearful or experience anxiety, our breath becomes more shallow, and heart rate and blood pressure spike as the vagus nerve gets the adrenal signal that something is wrong.
Did you know that you can hack that vagus nerve response by deep breathing? Follow this simple count pattern: in-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, out-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, and repeat for several minutes.
Intentional slowing down the breathing pattern and taking deep breaths is proven to help with sleeplessness as well as anxiety. Just focusing on the breaths stills and calms the mind and ramps down adrenaline. Do yourself a big favor and make this a regular habit – sometimes the simplest things are the best!
Take it Down a Notch
When your thoughts wander into negative territory, try to rein them in and make a deliberate effort to focus on something more positive. This is easier said than done, but you have some effective tools at hand: laugh, take a break, focus on spirituality, breathe deeply, and take the steps that you know will comfort you.
Remember what your grandmother told you: 50% of what you worry about will never happen!