What to do When Feeling Anxiety and How to Feel Better
Updated: May 3
Like many of us I grew up in the 70s and 80s, under the threat of the cold war. Adverts on the TV telling us what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Leaflets urging us to sit under the kitchen table, like that was going to help! It was a frightening time, with an anxiety feeling that just didn't go away. I didn’t expect to be facing those fears again now 40 years on. Back then I packed a rucksack and camped at Greenham Common. Now I am not sure what I am supposed to do.
I have been meeting a lot of people who are very anxious right now and I’ve been thinking about what we can do to ease the anxiety. Our mental health matters, more now than at any time I can remember. It’s been important to me to stay in the moment. Right now I am not being shelled, today I have food in my fridge and a roof over my head. Today my loved ones are safe. I can be grateful for that even while I hold space or pray for those that are not so fortunate.
I am going to limit how much I watch the news. Just enough to stay informed, not so much that it gets overwhelming. Let’s face it, no one needs to see the same building being blown up more than once. I have to remind myself that my knowing every single detail of that is reported is not going to change the outcome. This approach worked pretty well for me during the early days of the pandemic.
It helps to get exercise and fresh air. A little bit of time outside goes a long way to calming anxiety. Studies show that exercise helps when we feel anxious. For me just a 20 minute walk in the local woods helps.
Breathe! When we get anxious our breathing becomes more shallow. Make sure you remember to breath deeply. A great exercise is to breathe in for the count of 4, hold your breath, then breathe out for the count of 6, then repeat. This is scientifically proven to relax us. Just remember to make the out breath longer than the in breath.
Will any of the above change how frightening the world is right now? No, sadly not, but they might just make it a little easier to live with.