Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Second Voice

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

This topic will be broken up into separate posts, and start with Self Talk, Guided Imagination and Exposure Limitation. These are the tools I use most frequently to manage my anxiety. Yes, I have anxiety, and now pandemic anxiety, and I don’t like any of it, so I have learned over the years to better manage all of it.

Self Talk is one of your most powerful anxiety busting tools. It can be best understood through the ABC Model:

A: is an objective event that occurs (Covid 19 for example).

B: is what you immediately and silently say to yourself, sometimes many times a day, about this event, usually without conscious awareness (“Oh no, we’re in a high risk group, we’re gonna die, badly,” is my example). Insert your personal pandemic negative self talk here.

C: are the feelings that immediately arise in response to our self talk (Anxiety, pandemic preoccupation, worry and/or panic)

In this case my self talk was awfulizing , which is the tendency to assume the worst possible outcomes will happen to me or the people I love. I can challenge and change this self talk by making it more realistic. An example for me might be, “Stop thinking the worst. Most high risk people survive. You can take steps to improve your chances.”

I use self talk reframing in combination with guided imagination everyday. These are two of my most trusty tools and they work synergistically with each other to reduce anxiety, each making the other more effective. Like any learned skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

Guided imagination is exactly what it says it is. When you are resting, napping, or going to sleep, don’t let your imagination run you. You run your imagination. Guide it to a place, a story, a visualization, that engages your mind, and is positive, happy and fun. Challenge yourself to come up with imaginative stories that involve you. This is wonderful for your mental and physical health. Make yourself a central character in your story. I have ongoing stories that I return to everynight before I fall asleep. I come up with new stories when the old ones start to lose interest.

This kind of guided imagination reduces stress hormone levels, aids sleep and reduces anxiety. It can even positively influence, or guide, our dreams which is beneficial to our mental and physical health. It is harnessing the creative power of your brain to control its own production. Long term prison inmates report using this technique to escape their cells and fly free. If they can do this, so can you and I.

And finally, reduce your exposure to news. Yes, it is important to stay well informed and safe, especially in a pandemic. But constant media onslaught can be psychologically overwhelming and add to an unhealthy level of anxiety. So take charge of the news in your own best interest. Consciously limit your exposure according to your best choice about how much you can absorb without becoming overwhelmed. This is truly important in managing your anxiety during pandemic times, and really at all times.

Switch from the news after you’ve had enough to stay informed, and read blogs or a book. Watch a movie. Look for positive imagery. Write blogs and stories. After all, you are bloggers! You have awesome creative imaginations. Use your imaginations in positive ways to help you, and your readers, stay on even keel during the coming stressful days.

Cheers & calm to you from me at The Holler~

Note: Australian birds in order, New Holland Honey Eater, Gouldian Finch, Superb Fairy Wren.

433 thoughts on “Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

  1. Pingback: *Press it* Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~ #126 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

  2. Pingback: Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days- Written By Cindy Knoke – Writer's Treasure Chest

  3. I listened to a psychologist last night. She did a 15-20 minute talk on dealing with the personal anxiety we experience as a result of the pandemic. She provided four very good tips. I’m thinking of typing the notes and sharing them on the blog–but only with her permission.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Couldn’t agree more with this post, Cindy, in particular your final point ‘reduce your exposure to news’ – there’s far too much hype (still) in the media at a time when we all need to be calm. Stay safe. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes. The coverage includes way too much negative projection stated as fact, and too many attention grabbing, shocking headlines. This is not a good way to receive and assimilate what is actually occurring.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy this is excellent. My daughter is a therapist and I think she will love this too. She got her doctorate in the UK and lives there now with my beautiful granddaughters. As most are, she’s now working from home. One of the ways I’m keeping panic at bay (after years of panic disorder) is by creating story videos for the girls who are home with Mum and Dad for the duration. And the visualization before sleep really works! I go to a frozen lake and ice skate under the stars. My spirit wolf, Rowdy, who was a real wolf I adopted years ago from Mission Wolf, visits me there for play and hilarious telepathic communication. I write those conversations sometimes. It’s all very healing. So grateful for your blog today and your images, as always. Thanks so much Cindy. ♥.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, we have a lot in common Niki. My daughter is a therapist in The Bay Area and she is seeing clients and doing group online and her hubby is working from home too. They are home with their 18 mos old twin sons who I can’t go visit and play with! I am glad you are doing the visualizations and using your imagination to escape from your anxiety. It works beautifully doesn’t it! Stay safe my friend დ

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow we do. =) And 18-month old twins and at-home work is tough. Hats off to our girls and their husbands. And visualization – yes! It’s helped me so much. I record all my conversations with Rowdy that I visit from time to time to return to a question we discussed. My friend thinks he is a stand-in for a Higher Power giving me great advice with snarky asides. XD I like that idea, actually. Thanks so much again Cindy. ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: eBookFoodie~Cooking & eBooks are two of my most favorite things! Here you’ll find recipes inspired by eBooks & more!Refresh… Refresh!… REFRESH!!! How are you coping with anxiety during the pandemic?

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