9 Rules to Keep Anxiety from Overtaking Your Life

9 Rules to Keep Anxiety from Overtaking Your Life

Let’s face it: Freedom of travel is restricted, our circle of social interaction is limited, and no one knows when life will return to normal in the face of COVID-19. Most of us have anxiety over Coronavirus.

But even when anxiety and fears, both realistic and imaginary, set in, you have the power to prevent them from overtaking your life.

Here are steps we can all take to minimize the amount of anxiety and fears we will experience, says RCA’s VP of Clinical Services Scott Weisenberger:

  • Rule #1: Stay informed, but not too informed:
    • Whenever we pay heightened and prolonged attention to anything, especially when those things are negative, we create pathways in the brain that actually dominate our brains. Translation: Whatever we think about the most, we wind up thinking about even more.
    • Recognize that anxiety and fears are a normal by-product of an exceptional situation that most of us have not faced in our lives.
    • If you have a favorite news outlet, limit your COVID-19 viewing. How many times a day do you really need to view the COVID-19 news? Select an amount of time, say a half-hour, and number of times per day you are willing to view COVID-19 news and stick with that number.
  • Rule #2: Distract yourself:
    • Take a walk each day, even if it’s just around the block. This will provide an important change of scenery and is a great antidote to cabin fever that might set in. As you walk, notice how nature is naturally moving, regardless of the COVID-19. Listen for bird sounds. Observe the daffodils starting to bloom, for instance. Nature is a beautiful reminder that life is still all around us.
    • Allot some amount of time each day to pesky projects that you might have been delaying. For instance, start weeding that flower bed or clear away the last mound of last fall’s leaves. Clean out that closet and donate unused items at one of those donation bins that tend to dot shopping centers.
    • Write a letter to family members and friends. We’ve all lost the art of letter-writing in the face of more expedient means of written communication, such as email and text. Even today, a personally handwritten letter is more personal than electronic communication. Plus, there’s nothing better than receiving a warm, loving letter.
    • Read that book you got for Christmas but never got around to reading.
    • Check on neighbors who might be elderly or more incapacitated than you. Helping others has been shown time and time again to boost moods of everyone involved.
    • Learn a new skill. The Internet is full of how-to explanations.
      • Have you always wanted to build a bookcase or coffee table?
      • Have you always wanted to learn to knit or crochet?
  • Rule #3: Don’t panic:
    • Really, how much toilet paper do you really need?
    • Shortages may occur and that’s a natural by-product of COVID-19.  Don’t fall into the trap that the shortages will always exist. They are temporary. Your friends, family, and community will help if you run short of anything.
    • If you are in a long line, such as at the grocery store, strike up pleasant conversations with others in line – maintaining a distance of at least six feet, of course. Now is the time to remember we’re all in this together.
  • Rule #4: Look on the bright side:
    • If you’re working from home, and your movement is limited, calculate how much money you are saving each day at home. Then decide on the purchase of something you’ve wanted for a while – once the crisis has subsided. Here are a few of the saving you might achieve:
      • Gas
      • Lunch money
      • Dry cleaning bill
  • Rule #5: Find alternatives to live 12-step meetings:
    • If you’re in recovery, and your regular meetings are suspended as a result of the pandemic, explore online resources that are available.
    • Set up a conference call with members of your home group and conduct a remote 12-step meeting.
    • Facetime or video call someone through a social media app.
  • Rule #6: Help someone else.
    • Figure out a way to help someone else who may be hurting more than you are.
    • When we help other people, it ignites our happiness neural pathways and we wind up feeling better – and happier.
  • Rule #7: Make a gratitude list daily:
    • Write down at least 10 things you’re grateful. When we do this, the brain becomes poised to find even more things to be grateful for. It’s a great reminder of what we do have, not what we don’t
  • Rule #8: Deepen your spiritual life.
  • Rule #9: Do your part:
    • If all else fails, realize that you’re doing your part to help stem the tide of the novel coronavirus. We will get through this together.

Written by RCA’s VP of Clinical Services Scott Weisenberger

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