I started 2020 with anxiety about my health, back when Covid-19 was a low priority news item from a faraway place – the irony of which is not lost on me now! Tests showed that whilst physically I was in good health, mentally I had burnt myself out. The real physical symptoms I was experiencing were instigated by too much adrenaline, my mind was experiencing the same levels of adrenaline as if my body had physically tried to run a full marathon every single day for two weeks.
As I was completing treatment, paradoxically the anxiety and panic levels of the global population were rising daily and now we find ourselves in a collective emergency state. For anyone feeling anxious or panic-stricken, I thought it might help to share the top five things that have helped me find daily calm (as well as resting, talking therapy, and crying a lot!):
1. Start with the why – just as we need to listen to the science with Covid-19, it’s important to understand the science behind how our own brains work when we’re under pressure. Click here to watch this TEDx video by Dr Alan Watkins which explains it brilliantly.
2. Then take a few minutes every day to breathe properly like this:
3. Stop and ground your senses – your mind can’t be worrying about the future or the past when you’re focussed on what you can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste right now.
4. It’s good to talk – so talk about your anxious thoughts and feelings with friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, professional therapists, helplines…or just talk to yourself! Voicing your worries out loud instantly diminishes their power in your mind and helps to let them go.
5. Practice mindfulness – and if that’s not for you, practice self-compassion. Treating yourself with love and kindness is the best way to keep you mentally strong enough to practice compassion to others.
Song credit: Doves. Watch the music video.