Covid-19 turned the world upside down overnight, making its lasting mental health effects unsurprising. Throughout lockdown many of us counted down the days until we could see our family and friends and return to living our ‘normal’ lives again. Now this time has finally come the transition back to living life ‘normally’ will come easier to some more than others. For many, this next transition in the COVID-19 journey has invoked unexpected feelings of stress and worry. This new and confusing post-pandemic world involves various anxiety-provoking decisions, such as deciding whether to wear a mask, whether to self-isolate for the common cold, or whether to attend social gatherings. There hasn’t been 100% closure on the pandemic and, for some, the uncertainty this creates in the decision-making process is overwhelming.
Many have experienced anxiety-provoking losses over the past 2 years, and for those who haven’t, many feel guilty for this. Covid-19 has exacerbated people’s pre-existing anxiety as well as causing anxiety in people who have never experienced it before. What is important to remember is that Covid-19 has affected everyone in different ways and just because our friends may have eased into post-pandemic life doesn’t necessarily mean we will too.
If you are experiencing any post-pandemic anxiety, please remember you are not alone. It is important for you to return to ‘normal’ life at a pace which you feel comfortable with, making sure you go easy on yourself. Below are 6 anxiety management tips, which may help aid the transition.
Yoga focuses on relaxation, stretching, and concentrated breathing, all of which trigger the release of endorphins which boost mood and reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.
Here is an anxiety-releasing yoga sequence to get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJJWArRfKa0
Meditation and mindfulness allow you to become present in the moment and explore the underlying causes of your stress and worry. Both techniques teach you how to stay grounded with your anxious feelings without suppressing or analysing them. This in turn, creates space to gain insight into what’s driving your worries.
Here is a 10-minute meditation/mindfulness session to get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx1bW26b80s
Exercising raises your heart rate, which in turn increases the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals in the brain. Exercising regularly also helps to support your resilience to anxiety-related emotions. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, this could simply be going for a walk, attending a fitness class, or doing a home/gym workout – whatever you find enjoyable.
Journaling allows you to get your anxious thoughts written out on paper. Once these thoughts are in front of your eyes, rather than whizzing around inside your head, you can begin to challenge them. You can journal however much you like, it could be as-needed, weekly, or even daily – find what works for you.
Here is a link to get your journaling started: https://www.verywellmind.com/journaling-a-great-tool-for-coping-with-anxiety-3144672
Stress and worry make it harder to fall and stay asleep. In turn sleep deprivation can worsen feelings of anxiety leading to a negative spiral.
Tips for better sleep:
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends!)
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals several hours before bed
Get outside for 30 minutes a day (daylight helps set our sleep patterns)
Avoid using electronic devices before bed (the light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime)
Relax before bed: meditate, read a book, take a warm bath - whatever makes you relax
Talk to Someone
Talking about what’s worrying you can help release your built-up emotions. Through talking to someone you can gain an outside perspective on what’s worrying you. This person can help you gain insight into what is causing your anxiety and identify solutions. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know you can call/message a confidential helpline like the ones listed below:
Exeter Student Nightline
*Disclaimer: These are tips which I think are helpful at relieving anxiety, and are in no way exclusive nor a substitute for seeking professional help if your anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life*
Written by Jazmin Peat