Tips on how to stop worrying about what hasn’t happened yet
While there is a minority out there that is well-programmed to deal with anxiety, most people find that uncertainty overpowers them with concerns about what could go wrong. Instead of welcoming the future, we worry about it.
Most recently, the coronavirus pandemic has fast-tracked the general anxiety level of most people to record highs. In addition to Covid-19, anxiety has a wide range of triggers, including fear of illness or death, economic collapse, family breakdown, or any type of dysfunction. It can bring on the feeling that the end of the world is near. The main problem with intense anxiety is that it impairs functioning. How can you develop a higher tolerance level for uncertainty and reduce anxiety?
Limor Caspi, MD, Director of the Outpatient Psychiatric Service at Sheba Medical Center, recommends the following helpful steps you can take to calm your anxiety.
Stay in the here and now. Remind yourself constantly of the good things in your life – family, home, friends, and positive commitments you’ve made. By focusing on the present, you will steer clear of catastrophic thoughts about the future.
Build and maintain your own regular and active daily schedule – and stick to it. In addition to eating, playing sports and avoiding excessive screen time, include quality time with family members into your regimen. Even cleaning and cooking with your spouse or kids can create connection and a sense of belonging, which are feelings that dispel anxiety. (Volunteering on a community level is similarly effective.) In general, taking action is empowering, which contributes to positive thinking.
If you have any scheduled tasks, such as responding to emails and paying bills, don’t postpone them. Procrastination can augment feelings of distress.
“The schedule you build is completely flexible, depending on your preferences,” reminds Dr. Caspi. “What works for one person may not work for another, so create and follow your own personalized plan.”
Even though coronavirus has forced us to practice social distancing, it’s essential not to hide in your own cave and take a vow of silence. Communicate in person with your nuclear family or virtually with other friends and relatives. Say warm and encouraging words, which will strengthen them and yourself.
- Exercise daily! Even if you’re quarantined at home and lying on the couch, it’s important to motivate yourself to move. Sports release endorphins (the feel-good hormones that also relieve pain) into your body, bolstering your immune system and boosting your mood.
- Fuel your body with nutritious food. A healthy diet will help you to keep an upbeat mood and feel satisfied with your life.
- Get enough sleep; approximately six to eight hours per night is recommended. If you have trouble falling asleep due to anxious thoughts creeping into your head, allow yourself to transition into bedtime with relaxing behavior; don’t eat a heavy dinner before winding down for the night, and shut off all screens about an hour before climbing into bed.
- Attend all of your scheduled medical, physical and mental therapies, and remember to take any prescription medicines on time. Don’t reduce your doses because of fear that you’ll run out.
If you’re concerned about anxiety and your mental condition, contact our clinic. Through our online Psychiatric Clinic at Sheba Medical Center, we offer virtual meetings to provide therapy for anxiety disorders, depression, and a wide range of mental conditions.