4 Ways to Keep the Anxiety Low During the COVID-19 Pandemic
So you’re stuck at home trying to maintain some semblance of normal life, but every time you turn on the TV, the news is about the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you choose to watch the news or it interrupts a program you’re viewing, it’s likely the source of the anxiety you’re feeling. In addition, it seems all people want to talk about is the coronavirus. Too much information, whether it’s accurate or incorrect, can fuel panic and distress. With no end to what people have started calling the new normal, fear and uncertainty are setting in, and if you’re a fan of any post-apocalyptic entertainment, you know that those two feelings breed mass hysteria. It’s more vital than ever now to lower your stress levels in order to help maintain your overall health so, you know, that ‘rona hopefully won’t get ya. To that end, Dr. E. Gaylon McCollough is sharing four ways to reduce stress now.
McCollough is a facial and nasal plastic surgeon and founder of McCollough Plastic Surgery Clinic & Skin Center and Total Health Spa in Alabama. Although he typically addresses his patients’ outward appearance, McCollough is also a proponent of total body wellness, and that includes our minds too. His forthcoming book The Gift You Give Yourself: Surgical and Other Choices That Enhance Your Appearance, Confidence, and Health addresses some of the holistic ways to reduce stress today.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic certainly contribute to heightened stress levels, but so can your genetics and lifestyle.
"While human beings cannot change their genetics, they can adopt lifestyles that delay the onset of unhealthy conditions,” said McCollough in press materials. “They can choose to adopt healthier attitudes toward the daily challenges they face and elect to embrace diets, exercise programs, and stress-relief programs that give them the best chance to defy the odds of whatever genetic code they inherited.”
McCollough offers the following suggestions in his book to reduce stress now:
Yoga: “Yoga gets a body owner in touch with the body’s physical, mental, and spiritual components. This gives yoga high marks as a way for you to relax, manage your stress and anxiety, and achieve peacefulness in your body and mind at the times you most need it."
Massage Therapy: (Disclaimer: You might want to hold off on this for a bit, but it’s something to anticipate.) “A professionally administered therapeutic facial or body massage relaxes the muscles and mind ... This—coupled with reflexology therapy and the peaceful, professional environment that exists in most spas—allow our minds to let go of the kinds of pent‐up tension that promote premature aging."
Relaxation and Meditation: “Professionally overseen stress relief might be one of the most effective ways to arrest the unwanted signs and symptoms of aging and ensure prolonged mental health. A period of aerobic exercise, relaxation, or meditation is also effective in releasing pent‐up stress."
Talking to a Licensed Counselor or Therapist: “I recommend that you seek the services of a licensed counselor or therapist who possesses the training and experience to assist you through such times. You must not view asking for help under these circumstances as a sign of weakness. Seeking the assistance of a trained professional is a demonstration of wisdom—one of the gifts you give yourself on the way to becoming the person of your dreams."
Here’s my take on McCollough’s advice:
YouTube and apps like Yoga for Health, which can be found on Roku, are a great (and sometimes free) way to learn or continue yoga when you’re stuck at home.
If you’d rather wait to get a massage until the coronavirus is no longer a threat, why not massage the parts of your body you can reach, like your feet, hands, and scalp? In addition, you could give your partner a rub-down and vice versa.
Head back to YouTube or search for some apps to learn how to meditate. You can also create a relaxing space for sleep by employing a sound machine (I’ve found woodland sounds drown out the sounds of my very busy city block) and an electronic oil diffuser (lavender keeps me calm, but if you have pets, research which essential oils they should avoid inhaling).
I have a standing weekly phone call with my therapist to help me through life. It’s refreshing to get advice or insight from someone completely independent from my life, who has no vested interest in the decisions I make. And even though I detest talking on the phone, traveling via public transportation to his office often caused me anxiety, and smelling the “old lady” perfume another therapist’s patient always wore didn’t help the situation while waiting for my appointment time. My therapist and I were doing our sessions via phone long before the pandemic, and it’s likely that your counselor or therapist has switched to teleconferencing too. But if you don’t have a therapist already, there are apps for that.
McCollough’s book The Gift You Give Yourself: Surgical and Other Choices That Enhance Your Appearance, Confidence, and Health will be released on May 26, 2020. And remember, there’s more to do at home than watch the news. Here are 13 Things to Do at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Besides Watch the News.