If they handed out prizes to years the way that they do students and celebrities, 2020 would win the Most Likely to Induce Anxiety award hands down. A global pandemic, soaring unemployment levels, and even murderous hornets have many people wondering if this is how the fabled apocalypse starts.
However, the world isn’t coming to an end, even if it feels that way at the moment. However, your rational mind and your emotions are two different beasts. Even if you know intellectually that things will get better, you still need to deal with your feelings at present. Here’s how.
1. Write It Out
If you ever attended therapy for anxiety, your counselor might have suggested keeping a journal. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed, however, now is an ideal time to get a grip on racing thoughts by putting them on paper. The act of writing can help you see your situation in a more objective light. It also gives you a safe space to vent free from judgment.
If you have any extra cash, investing in a beautiful Moleskine notebook or floral journal is a perfect way to treat yourself. However, if money is the cause of your anxiety, a dollar store notebook will do the trick. If you have arthritis or another inflammatory condition that makes handwriting painful, you can find free online journaling sites where you can type your thoughts.
2. Adopt a Furry Friend
Research shows that pets increase the quality of life and can even extend it. They bust through loneliness and provide you with unconditional love. They can also help you meet new friends — who hasn’t stopped to greet a friendly pooch or two while on a walk?
Maybe you think that you can’t take advantage of a furry companion due to a stuffy nose. While 15% of the population does have a dog allergy, you can find hypoallergenic breeds. If one of these types worked for President Obama’s family, they could help you, too.
3. Get Cookin’, Good Lookin’
Everyone needs a hobby, and what better pastime to adopt than one that rewards you with a delicious meal for your efforts? Getting in the kitchen doesn’t mean that you have to pack on the excess pounds, either. You can experiment with healthy and plant-based recipes like burritos with whole-grain wraps and plenty of brightly colored veggies.
4. Swing That Hammer
Maybe you have no urge to become the next Martha Stewart, and that’s okay. If you’re the handy sort, chances are, you can find a project or two around the house that needs attending. You can build window boxes to enhance your front landscaping or enclose an existing deck to make a home office or children’s play area. Who knows? If you develop your carpentry talents, your hobby could blossom into a lucrative side hustle — or even replace your day job someday.
5. Clean Out Your Closets
Do you hesitate to open your linen closet for fear of getting suffocated under an avalanche of falling sheets? There is something soul-soothing about organizing anything from a drawer to your entire kitchen. Make a list of the things in your home that you want to straighten, and tackle one chore every time you feel panic start to creep into your consciousness. Much anxiety stems from sensing a lack of control, and putting things in order helps to restore your sense of calm.
6. Dance Away Your Troubles
It’s nearly impossible to feel negative when you are rocking out to your favorite tunes. Dock your iPhone, dial-up some Lizzo or another preferred artist, and cut loose. You don’t have to worry about choreography or making a fool of yourself when you are alone in your living room. Of course, if you prefer to follow the leader, you can find a ton of dance fitness videos for free on YouTube.
7. Work on Physical Appearance
Helping to improve your opinion of yourself can also help overshadow negative feelings. Whether that means working to lose weight, helping to improve hair health, or even building lean muscle—every little bit can count! Improving your physical appearance may be as simple as starting to look for fashionable human hair wigs that make you look younger or it may be as involved as hiring a physical trainer to develop a personal fitness program. The complexity, duration, and commitment of such programs are up to you!
8. Do a Kind Deed
There will always be folks doing way better than you are — but there are just as many who need a hand, too. Research shows that volunteering stimulates the release of oxytocin, the same happy hormone produced by an enjoyable frolic in the sheets or a bite of chocolate.
If you have the means, you can donate to your local food bank — so many jobless families are hurting right now. If you were among those affected by layoffs, make an appointment to donate blood, which is also in short supply. It’s an election year, so if you don’t like the way your leaders are handling things, sign up to phone or text bank for your preferred candidate from home.
9. Find Your Zen
Finally, yoga and meditation are both fabulous ways to calm both your body and mind. If you’re a beginner or want to wind down, try a gentle Iyengar style. If you need to burn off frustration, a fast-paced Ashtanga class may be more your jam. Both practices typically end with meditation, or you can embrace mindfulness as a separate practice. All you need is a quiet place to sit and focus on your breath as you note your thoughts the way a neutral observer would.
10. Phone a Friend
Everybody needs a best friend whom they can dial at 3 a.m. Of course, you don’t want to burden your buddy, but talking about your situation with a trusted confidante can help you to see things in a more positive light. When you feel like your world has ended due to job loss, for example, they can remind you that every ending contains the kernel of a new beginning. Maybe this is your chance to make a needed change in your career.
Banish Anxiety Creatively With These Tips
Anxiety can make you feel like Chicken Little lives in your brain, chanting an endless refrain of, “The sky is falling.” Use these tips to silence that nasty little hen and take back your life.