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Three strategies for managing stress and anxiety during lockdown

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With the COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread implications continuing to progress in our community, its normal to experience various feelings, thoughts and reactions that include fear, stress, anxiety and frustration. If the uncertainty surrounding your work, family, school and home life is making you feel helpless, disconnected or agitated, the tips below can help.

1. Use your breath to manage anxiety symptoms

Slowing your breathing down is a fast and effective way to interrupt the physical symptoms of anxiety. It can also promote feelings of being grounded, relaxed and calm. Belly breathing lying down or sitting in a chair is a simple way to relieve stress and is useful if you experience panic attacks:

· Place one hand on your chest and the other hand to your belly just below your ribs.

· As you breathe deeply in through your nose, allow your belly to expand, pushing your hand outwards. As you breathe in count “In, two, three” over 3 seconds.

· When you exhale through your mouth, feel the hand on your belly moving back towards your spine. As you breathe out count “Out, two, three.” over 3 seconds.

· Perform this cycle for 3 – 5 minutes and notice how you feel.

2. Acknowledge how you’re feeling

Struggling with the reality of how COVID-19 has impacted your work, home and family life is okay. You may also be looking with envy towards the other Australian states who are now enjoying family outings, restaurant meals and going to sporting events. It can be useful when you’re feeling like this to express what your feelings in a journal, drawing, playing music or painting.

Accepting that you can’t change some things can help you tolerate the situation a little easier. Try saying to yourself, “I can’t control this, so I’m letting it go.” Staying centred and calm using mindfulness techniques can also be beneficial. Learning how to be mindful by staying in the present instead of the past or future can be helpful in reducing anxiety and stress. If you’d like to know find out more about mindfulness, contact us here.

3. Establish a daily routine

Following a daily routine can have a positive impact on what you’re thinking and how you feel. Whether you’re working from home, supervising remote learning or in self-quarantine, focusing on what you can do every day is important. A healthy daily routine could include:

· Eating healthy meals and staying hydrated

· Walking, cycling, practicing yoga or strength training

· Getting enough sleep

If you want to make use of the extra time spent at home, you could listen to a podcast, read a book, attempt a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, learn a new language, or download a book online.

It’s important to remember that physical distancing doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from your family and friends. Giving and receiving support with phone calls, text messages or Zoom calls is a beneficial way to bring a sense of stability and calm to your life.

Cova Psychology is here to support your mental health and wellbeing during these stressful and anxious times. Contact us to book a Psychologist MelbourneOur Melbourne Psychologists offer a wide range of evidence based therapies including EMDR Therapy Melbourne.

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