Everyone’s anxiety has gone up this year, and with good reason. We’re all facing new and intensifying stressors, while having limited access to ways we may have previously coped well. Here are some ideas for things you can try right now, whether your anxiety is at a 3 or a 10:
1) Breathe and recognize your anxiety is not an emergency or something to “fix” right in this moment. Often our anxiety is a physiological arousal linked to a threat, however realistic, exaggerated, removed, or unconscious. Try thinking of whatever body sensations you’re experiencing as information that is neither good nor bad. Get curious and compassionate with yourself, and remind yourself that you don’t have to take action immediately unless you or a loved one is in physical danger.
2) Try progressive muscle relaxation. It’s free, simple, and has been shown in some academic studies to reduce anxiety as affectively as medication when done routinely. If you don’t have time to do the full body routine, trying clenching your hands, shoulders, or the back of your legs as hard as you can and holding for ten seconds before releasing.
3) Eliminate unnecessary stimuli. This may be obvious things like noise or light, but could also be the presence of your phone, visual clutter, or that nagging feeling that you need to do the dishes. Sometimes a small change in your environment can have a big positive impact on your mood.