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10 Powerful Ways To Relieve Anxiety: My Learnings During COVID Times

In the last article, I shared what anxiety is, how it impacts your health, and all the signs your body gives you when you are suffering from stress or anxiety. 

During my stint with anxiety, I developed an action plan to cope with it which was highly effective and works very well for most people battling stress or anxiety. This action plan will help you be more resilient and boost your mental health. So here’s a snapshot of the plan that led me on the recovery path from anxiety:

1. Take A Pause & Delegate Tasks

Tell yourself that it is all right to take a break. In our modern times being busy or doing something all the time translates into being productive and useful.  We attach it to our ‘worth’. My biggest learning in the last year has been to tell myself it is ok to take a pause and reflect. 

It is ok to be a child again, lie down on the grass, look at the blue sky and do absolutely nothing (or lie on your couch in Corona times and do nothing at all).

How I Did It?: I took time off work for a few days and slept through most of the first few days to restore some energy. Slowly but steadily built healthy practices during my days to create some healing space. I took intermittent pauses. Over a period of time, I have built the habit of making a few hours over the weekends as my big pause moments to revive. 

Delegating Tasks: I make a to-do list and keep only the top 3 tasks for myself (i.e., only urgent things at work, spending time with my son, some household chores - meal planning, etc.). I delegated the rest of the chores to other family members or my house help. I accepted that for some time I won’t have the energy to do everything! 

2. Seek Help

When we have a fever, we take no time in rushing to the doctor. But we dither forever to go to a therapist (mainly because we judge ourselves as ‘strong’ enough to be able to deal with things). In Corona times when we do not have enough outlets for our emotions, consulting a therapist is a great gift that you can give yourself. You may even end up building a relationship of lifelong trust with a confidante, just as I did!

How I Did It?: I reached out to a therapist. She was instrumental in bringing some order in the first few weeks of me hitting the nadir. She gave me simple tips; which makes a big chunk of this action plan. Since I was accountable, I committed myself more towards healing and a healthy lifestyle, e.g restarting my breathing exercises & Yoga. She encouraged and supported me without any judgment which was a huge help!

3. Name Your Feelings

Instead of saying I am feeling anxious or stressed, it helps if you name the underlying emotion. Sometimes we may not know the exact underlying feeling, so in that case, just writing out what is bothering us really helps. 

How I Did It?: Journaling -  Writing down what I am feeling during a ‘stressful time’ has helped me immensely. I noticed that my angry outbursts at my son or spouse were mostly because of an unrelated underlying cause (e.g.,  not finishing office tasks on time or not grabbing enough of ‘me’ time)

This is an absolutely ‘must do’ activity when dealing with anxiety. The more you are able to journal or write it out, the more you will allow the emotions to let go and keep illnesses at bay 

  • I invested in simple notebooks and kept them at easily accessible corners of my house 

  • Whenever I felt stuck with an emotion I wrote it down in detail, as descriptively as I could 

  • I slowly built the habit of writing, it helped me eliminate the thoughts that had been mulling in my head troubling me.

4. Writing Letters To Self Or People

This is another way of journaling. You can write down a letter to yourself, and cry it out if u feel like it as you write. Letters can be about how you feel / or a word of encouragement / or a letter of frustration. Tearing off the letters and/or reading them aloud in front of a mirror also helps.

 

How I Did It?: Writing a letter to myself, addressing as ‘Dear Mayuri’ worked wonders for me.  I noticed that I was writing very well despite going through mental trauma. It was my self-praise for what all I have done and what all I am capable of!  

When my mother was in ICU; I wrote letters to her and read them to her as she lay in a semi-conscious state.  It was a very useful tool in expressing difficult feelings

5. Connecting With Nature

Nature is our primary source of energy (Sun, air, rain, food). The more we connect to nature the more we cleanse and energize ourselves. Grounding is a good technique to apply here. It essentially involves lying down on the ground, grass, or floor when you are feeling emotionally drained. Imagine the roots from your spine and chest connected to mother Earth and all your grief, sorrow, feelings flowing fully down to mother Earth. 

How I Did It?: I am blessed to be living in a green space 

I go out early morning or during the evenings and do Grounding or Yoga in my garden. If you are unable to go out at all; simply connect more with the earth in your house. Read more about How To Do Grounding In Urban Set-up. 

I also did Breathing Exercises, which is an essential part of living healthily during the pandemic and polluted environs. 

6. Meditation

Another powerful tool in managing anxiety is Meditation. It helps immensely in understanding the underlying emotion or the real triggers behind anxiety. You may build your own toolbox of meditation practices that quieten your mind and release emotions that do not serve you anymore.  

This technique gives a positive, oxytocin-producing message to all our cells that further helps in building immunity. 

How I Did It?: I always thought I could never meditate as I am a very ‘busy in the head’ person. Then I joined a meditation group & learned to observe my breath, go deeper in the journey of connecting with myself and drop a lot of judgments about people, events, and most importantly myself!

7. Do Things That You Love

This is a practice that my therapist helped me build. Each week (and for each day) instead of writing down a laundry list of things to do, write down 3 things that you wish to accomplish. This will help get you the feeling of ‘accomplished’! At the end of each day write down in your journal:

  • Things that you want to do more of 

  • Things that you want to do less of 

  • Things that you learned or enjoyed doing today

These are your ‘Energisers’

How I Did It?: I keep going back to this practice even now. Eventually, I understood what I enjoy doing more - i.e., Spending more time with my son. Spending some me time/ meditation time, Spending time in nature Vs. the things that stress me out - e.g., Late nights at work, Too much planning on food/ menu/ who to feed what in my house / or cooking for the whole household, Not finding dedicated time to do quality work at the office. 

I have learned that when I am overwhelmed I need to do more of my ‘energizers’. 

8. Me Time

You will know what activities energize you and what feels like big stress. Over a period of time, it is very important to take out the ‘me time’ during weekdays and/ or weekends and spend some dedicated time for yourself. 

How I Did It?: I love cleaning up the house and de-cluttering. Sunday afternoons you will find me with my music on cleaning my rooms/house/kitchen etc! 

During my initial ‘melt down’ phase I took an off from work and cleaned my house! My other me-time activities include:

  • Daily practice of chanting (Nichiren Buddhism)

  • Reading time 

  • Making face creams / natural cosmetics at home 

  • Meditation times 

  • Yoga routine 

  • Rustling up a salad / exotic food 

  • Listening to Music

  • Dancing (oh how I still love to groove as in my younger days!) 

Each weekend I invest some time to do at least one of these activities.

9. Less Screen Time

No screen time at least for an hour before I sleep. I get on my phone only one hour after I wake up (mostly after my chanting or meditation/ yoga session). I updated and had a dialogue with my boss that he can reach me at Hangouts instead of whats app as I find it distracting.

How I Did It?: During this period I noticed that my ability to keep pace with the news reduced dramatically. 

It was a clear indication from my body that I am having sensory overload. So I insulated myself from news/ articles / FB / Insta etc. I cut down on my consumption of Netflix and other digital entertainment platforms. 

I filtered news about Corona; keeping abreast about a few important things only. 

I accepted the fact about myself that I won't be the ‘first one’ to know the news or latest developments. 

10. More Family Time

For me, spending time with my son and some quality time with my husband really helped. When anxiety hits, your relationships can reach rock bottom. 

Investing and dedicating special spouse time, indulging in physical intimacy can do wonders for your physical and mental health. 

Similarly spending time with my son (could be any of your loved ones), gives me great pleasure and is my biggest energizer. 

How I Did It?: During the initial days, I created 30 mins of study time with my son during work hours! I declined all calls/ meetings during this time. Slowly I kept adding more of ‘Mamma Baby time’. Now we have a proper routine: Morning - cuddles time, Night - bedtime stories, Movie time on weekends, the dancing time during Saturday nights & so on.

Books that helped me:

  • How to manufacture time: Chandan Goyal 

  • Reading Space-related books with my son: brought back my focus that the universe is indeed vast, expansive and unknown; we are all a tiny speck; that this phase shall pass soon! 

  • Movies: Inside out, A beautiful day in the neighborhood, All children movie 

  • Reading children books with my son at night 

  • Value creation magazine from BSG and books by Dr. Daisaku Ikeda: as part of my Buddhist practice 

  • Buddha in daily life: by Richard Causton (The section on understanding death/ sleep and eternity of life from the perspective of Buddhism) 

  • My cancer is Me: by Vijay Bhat: Section on Life and Death; loss 

To know more about anxiety and ways to manage it, join Wellcure’s Relieve Anxiety E-learning Course 

About Author: Mayuri Goswami is a natural healing explorer and a finance professional with 16+ years of domestic and global experience in finance strategy, and general management roles, Mayuri is a passionate wellness enthusiast. She has co-founded a venture in online health & wellness space. 

Further Read: COVID-19 Pandemic - Making The Best Of The Worst Of Times



Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food and lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. Wellcure believes that each human body is unique and hence no Health Journey should be construed as a "cure". The views expressed by the user in the above Health Journey are his/her personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.

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