Keep Calm: 10 Ways To Deal With Anxiety In Scary Times

How do you keep calm when life is stressful – when the anxiety around you is high? With the coronavirus, it’s natural to be unsettled, anxious, afraid. We’ve faced nothing like this in our lifetimes, and we don’t know what to expect.

So how do we keep calm and navigate these stresses with grace and wisdom?

Here is what I’m doing – perhaps these ideas can help you too.

10 Ways To Keep Calm In Anxious Times

1. Decide when and how much news is right for you

I want to be informed but not obsessed, so I’m limiting myself to reading news updates each morning after breakfast.

For a while I was checking more often and in the evenings too, but this filled my head with information I could do nothing about, and at a time I was trying to unwind for sleep, so I’ve cut that out.

If you’re constantly monitoring the news, then ask yourself if you’re seeking information or fuelling anxiety. Check in with your motivation and think about what limits are healthy for you.

If I have plans that may be affected by recent changes then I’ll check for an update. But other than that, I keep informed with my morning news.

If you’re constantly monitoring the news, then ask yourself if you’re seeking information or fuelling anxiety. Check in with your motivation and think about what limits are healthy for you.

2. Keep calm while you read the news

I try to adopt a deliberately serene mindset while I’m processing news items. I breathe deeply, I consciously analyse what I’m reading, and I’m vigilant for emotive words or scaremongering phrases. I notice if I’m overreacting, if there’s a spike in my internal processes – then I take a few deep breaths to reset and keep calm.

As you take in the news, ask yourself: Does this change anything in the present moment? Often it doesn’t, and that awareness can help you keep calm and better deal with anxiety.

3. Choose your information sources with care

I only read updates from reliable, fact-checked news outlets and government websites. We all know those news sites that are clickbaity and use scaremongering angles, and I never click on them. If there’s genuine news, the other sources will report it in a way that is less anxiety-inducing.

I also unfollow people on social media who spread bogus cures or alarmist memes. No need to say anything – just a gentle unfollow will help you reduce unnecessary anxiety and keep calm.

I also unfollow people on social media who spread bogus cures or alarmist memes. No need to say anything – just a gentle unfollow will help you reduce unnecessary anxiety and keep calm.

4. Let satire provide a ‘lightness filter’

The more stressful the world gets, the more I find comfort in sites like The Onion, McSweeney’s, The Chaser, and The Shovel. They filter news through the prism of humour and allow me to see the lighter side of things, which is a wonderful way to keep calm.

It’s not satirical, but we also have a weekly 15-minute show in Australia called Media Watch that calls out sensationalistic and inaccurate media practices. It’s another good way to inure yourself to the panic merchants, and to keep calm amid anxious times.

5. Release resistance

I have a tendency to mentally resist what I fear. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it until I catch myself holding my breath or tensing my body. When I tune in I realise I’m thinking, this can’t happen, it shouldn’t happen, I can’t stand it if this happens.

The only antidote I’ve found is to practice acceptance, to breathe in the reality that this is what is. Suffering is part of life. Tough times come around. Fighting the truth is stressful – and doesn’t change the truth!

Recognise your own resistance and be kind to yourself as you remember life will unfold – this can allow you to stay calm and find inner peace.

Suffering is part of life. Tough times come around. Fighting the truth is stressful – and doesn’t change the truth!

6. Focus on what you can do

A lot of what is going on is outside our control. Our governments are making decisions based on their advisers and the incoming data.

I find it helpful to think about what is in my control – eg:

  • What social distancing measures to take
  • Preparing for extended time at home
  • Ways in which I can maximise my health and immunity
  • How I can best help my family.

Beyond that, I’m reminding myself I cannot control everything and I’m not responsible for everyone. Argh, this is a hard lesson for me to learn!

Want a beautiful 12-page PDF version of Keep Calm: 10 Ways To Deal With Anxiety In Scary Times to print and keep? It’s free when you sign up for A Chic Life updates. Click here to sign up now.

7. Stay committed to your goals and projects and everyday life

What is happening right now is not normal life, but it is still life, and it goes on. The realities we face mean coronavirus will take up a certain amount of our time, thought, conversation, and planning. But I’m making sure it doesn’t overwhelm me.

Instead, I’m remaining committed to my current goals and projects, such as:

  • Work: my new blog here at A Chic Life
  • Body: improving my flexibility – I’m determined to be able to do the splits for the first time in my life
  • Personal: taking up new hobbies (more on that in future posts)
  • Relationships: learning new therapies and ‘practicing’ them in my personal relationships (shhh – don’t tell my loved ones!)

Don’t neglect your projects and hobbies. Keeping life balanced and diversified will help you reduce anxiety and maintain your poise.

Don’t neglect your projects and hobbies. Keeping life balanced and diversified will help you reduce anxiety and maintain your poise.

8. Zoom out for a more calming perspective

When I’m feeling anxious, I often find I’ve zoomed right in on something. It’s directly in my face, blocking out everything else. So a helpful technique is to consciously zoom out again and widen my perspective.

When I do this, I gain a broader, more philosophical outlook and certain realities come into view.

We will adapt.

Here’s what I’ve noticed every time something difficult happens in my life: there’s a peak of distress when it’s new, and then there’s an adaptation, and a settling in to a new equilibrium. Our brains are hard-wired to overreact to novelty and acclimatise to regularity. We will find a new normal, and then as things evolve, another one after that. This is how humans are.

It may not be as bad as we tell ourselves.

Most of us in the first world have suffered very little privation compared to previous generations and other nations. In some ways our distress feels exaggerated because our hardships are so few. This is not to minimise the difficulties we face – only to say our anguish is heightened because we have it so good much of the time.

There is plenty to be grateful for.

I feel thankful to live in a country with decent healthcare and a proactive government (as far as I can tell). To be an introvert, happy with little social contact and plenty of books, crosswords, and TV shows. To have work I can immerse myself in. To live during internet times when I can easily communicate with friends and loved ones.

You will have your own list of things to appreciate. Remind yourself of them to help deal with anxiety.

This will pass.

Nothing is forever. Tough times end. We are in a difficult period, but we will go through it. The sun will come out again.

Our brains are hard-wired to overreact to novelty and acclimatise to regularity. We will find a new normal, and then as things evolve, another one after that. This is how humans are.

Can you zoom out from your anxious thoughts? Seeing our present stresses from a wider perspective can turn down the intensity of anxiety and put everything into a more serene, philosophical context.

9. Maintain self-care to help deal with anxiety

I’m a strong proponent of self-care and at times like this it’s even more important. I want to do my part to stay healthy – for myself, my loved ones, and the vulnerable. This means maintaining my regular physical and mental health practices:

  • Eating well – I enjoy many naughty foods but I’m making sure I get plenty of vegetables and healthy food too
  • Exercising – however, I may need to change my practices as gym regulations evolve
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintaining my daily meditation practice
  • Watching comedy shows
  • Protecting as many elements of my self-care plan as I can

If you don’t have a self-care plan then this might be a fine time to start one.

10. Don’t comment on anything anyone else is doing

We are all troubled by the coronavirus situation, and some of us may not be at our best. But judging others for panicking, or being too blasé, or for anything they’re doing or not doing is not helping anybody.

Instead, here’s how I’m processing my reactions:

  • Feeling my feelings. I try to notice tense or unsettled emotions, and to ask myself what’s there. It might be a wave of sadness for someone who’s sick, or a jolt of fear about the uncertainty we face, or a surge of anger at someone who’s buying out stocks of essentials. Pushing down these feelings contorts them into a tight knot of anxiety. Instead, I try (not always successfully) to be aware of the feeling, and to feel it – to ride the physical sensations and experience the discomfort until it passes. Which it eventually does.
  • Not judging or commenting on anyone else’s behaviour. It only makes me feel worse and doesn’t help them.
  • Staying right out of unedifying social media conversations. I’m lucky to have several intelligent, well-informed friends who offer helpful perspectives. But as for the rest – the fake cures, judgmental rants, self-congratulatory boasts – I scroll by, or unfollow.

I try (not always successfully) to be aware of the feeling, and to feel it – to ride the physical sensations and experience the discomfort until it passes. Which it eventually does.

These are my strategies to keep calm and deal with anxiety in these demanding times – I hope you find something helpful here.

Please share your own suggestions in the comments.

I wish you well, mes amis. I wish you kindness, grace, and peace.

Press the red SAVE button to pin for later!

Want a beautiful 12-page PDF version of Keep Calm: 10 Ways To Deal With Anxiety In Scary Times to print and keep? It’s free when you sign up for A Chic Life updates. Click here to sign up now.

4 comments
5 likes
Prev post: Inner Peace: 5 Steps To Start Your Self-Care PlanNext post: CHIC AT HOME: 6 Ways To Have More Style

Related posts

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The ‘Chic Life’ Philosophy

To live by conscious choice and not convention or habit. To have less, but better quality. To do more of what matters and less of everything else. To live with grace, elegance, style. To show love, kindness, compassion. To experience inner peace and joy…  Read More

Categories
Stay In Touch

Latest Posts
Popular Posts
C’est Moi, Michele

Salut, I'm Michele. For me, 'chic' is more than how you look - it's how you do everything. A chic life is personal style, an organized home, elegance, confidence, living well, self-care, minimalism, joyful work, and happy relationships. And it all starts with knowing who you are. Thank you for joining me! Read More