Dr. Sonia Parikh, MD is an adult psychiatrist and cofounder of Savant Care, Inc. She is a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation practitioner.
How to manage anxiety during the pandemic
Fear of losing lives and livelihoods is taking a toll on the mental health of people worldwide. According to kff.org, 56% of adults (between 18-24 years) have shown depression and anxiety symptoms during the pandemic.
A healthy diet, exercise, medication, therapy, adequate sleep, meditation, practicing gratitude, and a new-normal routine can help people cope with anxiety during the pandemic.
9 Tips to cope with anxiety during Covid-19.
Here are a few tips for coping with anxiety and maintaining inner tranquility during Covid-19.
1. Eat healthy meals:
Some foods have brain-boosting elements, and that help to reduce anxiety symptoms. Here are a few of them.
Salmon - It has a perfect combination of vitamin D, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA and DHA help the brain to tackle stressful situations that trigger anxiety. They also help to regulate dopamine and serotonin, which help to calm the mind.
Turmeric - It contains a component called curcumin, which helps to prevent anxiety.
Dark chocolate - It contains flavonols, which improve blood circulation in the brain and adjust to stressful situations.
Include these foods in your diet to manage anxiety during the pandemic. Other stress buster foods are fruits, leafy veggies, nuts, green tea, yogurt, lean meats, blueberries, chia seeds, eggs, oats, etc.
2. Stay away from social media:
It is good to be aware of what is happening in the world and how to protect yourself against the coronavirus. However, hearing about the death tolls and pathetic situations of the suffering patients is enough to trigger anxiety. Moreover, what you see on social media is not always correct. Wrong information about the side effects of medication and vaccines makes you anxious unnecessarily.
Stay away from social media and news channels for a few months. It will help you to stay calm and quiet.
Meditation is a simple way to manage stress, depression, and anxiety. If you have never done meditation in the past, you can try it for a few minutes in a quiet corner of your room.
Close your eyes, breathe in, and breathe out. Allow your disturbing thoughts to move away from you gradually.
4. Practice gratitude:
Being grateful for what you have helps to elevate your mood. The magic word is ‘thank you.’ Take a piece of paper and write down the things for which you feel grateful. Do this every day, and you will find that there are so many good things in your life. Your fears and worries are illogical.
When we practice gratitude, actually train a mind to focus on the positive things in our life. That helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
5. Get adequate sleep:
A good night's sleep is essential for mental well-being.
Sleep helps to restore the brain's prefrontal mechanism, which is responsible for regulating your emotion. It helps to reduce the brain's emotional activity and avoid the gradual increase of anxiety symptoms.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night due to anxiety or depression, then you can use the following tips:
- Shut down your laptop and keep your smartphone away from your bed. Keep yourself away from any negative news.
- Avoid smoking and drinking before going back to bed. Try to avoid any caffeine at night.
- Read a good book or listen to melodious music to calm your mind in stressful times.
6. Take prescribed medication:
If you already have an anxiety disorder, then make sure you take your prescribed medicines every day. Otherwise, your anxiety symptoms may aggravate during this stressful situation.
If you feel depressed and anxious for the first time due to Covid-19, check your depression score to know if you need to consult a therapist.
A therapist can suggest a few ways to manage anxiety, stress, and depression.
7. Maintain a healthy routine:
With bad news everywhere, don't make it an excuse to ignore your mental health and give in to the situation. Keep doing your bit every day and leave the rest upon God. Maintain a healthy routine every day. Do your exercises, keep moving, keep burning your calories, eat healthy meals, take prescribed medications, and build your immunity to stay strong - physically and mentally.
8. Connect with your friends:
Prolonged isolation during an uncertain time can make you feel lonely and anxious. A friendly conversation with your family and friends can help to boost your mood. Share your feelings and concerns with your friends. They might give you some practical solutions to reduce your anxiety.
9. Exercise every day:
Exercise is good for mental health. It diverts your mind, reduces muscle tension, releases anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin and endogenous cannabinoids.
Even if you are not motivated to exercise just like the pre-pandemic time, go for a walk in the morning and breathe in the fresh air.
Quote by Sasha Guttentag
"Living through a stressful situation, such as financial insecurity, family upheaval, trauma, loss, or of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic can certainly be a trigger for worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety."
— Sasha Guttentag, Ph.D., a research scientist at GoodRx
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Dr Sonia Parikh