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  • Writer's pictureLuna

Minimizing Anxiety in Times of Isolation

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

Connecting with other humans naturally soothes our nervous systems. When we are in close contact, we experience co-regulation. That is, when we are together, we sync up physiologically – through touch, vocal intonation, and facial expressions – which all serve to collectively calm us down. Conversely, when we are social distancing and isolating ourselves, we have fewer opportunities for co-regulation, causing our bodies to become more defensive as we become more self-focused, less trusting of others, and increasingly anxious.


However, there's plenty of things you can do all by yourself to reduce anxious feelings. In fact, these strategies are just as important when we are free to socialize, helping us feel more relaxed, sleep more soundly at night, and focusing our energy on the things that really matter.


You can read all the anti-anxiety advice in the world, but none of it matters unless you take action. You have the power to make your life more productive and less anxiety-ridden. All that's required of you is to commit 15-60 minutes per day to tackle a few of the following anxiety busters.


(1) Practice compassion to others and to yourself.


Compassion is a realization of "oneness", whether it is our connection with the fellow human beings, or our acceptance of ourselves. It allows us to see the best in people and often recognize the pain and suffering underneath the surface. Research has also shown that practicing self-compassion can activate our parasympathetic nervous system, slow down your heart rate and help us calm down and feel safe and more grounded.


As healing as compassion can be, it's often not an automatic response, so dedicate time to journaling, reflecting, or meditating on feelings of well-being for others and yourself. Find my blog on Self-Compassion Here


(2) Meditate.


The single most effective activity for reducing anxiety that I have ever experienced is meditation. The simple act of slowing down your mind for 5, 10, or 20 minutes allows you to see the world through a new perspective, improve your focus, and reduce stress. Mediation allows you to come back to the present moment refreshed, with a more peaceful and clear mind. Controlled, methodic breathing also creates a physiological response, reducing inflammation responses created by stress and yes, again focuses the mind on the Now.


There are a lot of free resources to help you in your meditation practice. My favorite apps for meditation are Insight Timer and Headspace. You can connect with me there too!

Another great resource is www.calm.auckland.ac.nz.

Alan Dolan has an amazing free ap and resources, specifically for Breathwork.


(3) Get enough sleep.


Despite years of rhetoric that taught us to get up early and stay up late to achieve, the science is becoming increasingly clear that sufficient sleep is essential to physical and mental health. What's more, researchers at the University of California-Berkley found that sleep deprivation ignites areas of the brain in patterns that mimic the abnormal neural activity seen in anxiety disorders, often contributing to excessive worrying.


But wait, there's more! New research suggests when you sleep can be just as important as for how long. According to sleep expert and The Power of When author Dr. Michael Breus, your unique wiring (aka sleep chronotype) determines your most energetic times of day, and when we should try to get our shuteye. Of course, we can't all choose our own schedules, but at least ensuring we get enough sleep is a step almost any of us can take.


(4) Practice presence and gratitude.


If compassion is a "hug", gratitude is our "thank you." Practicing gratitude for what "is" in the moment will get you out of “what if’s” or “if only's.“ Make a mental note or journal entry about the good things in your life. No matter what may go wrong, you can always choose to be thankful for another day on this planet. The time will come when you won’t have any more days to spend, and when it does, you won’t care about what other people say about you, pending bills, failures, or objects of desire. You will just wish for another day. So, be here now and choose to be grateful. It is your choice. It is that simple.


(5) Spend time in nature every day, even if for just 15 minutes.


When you spend time in nature, you give your mind and body a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle, the feeling of constant accessibility and demand placed upon you which likely caused you to Google "how to get rid of anxiety" in the first place. Chances are, no matter where you live, there's a serene, interesting, or charming place nearby where you can disconnect from the rest of the world and humble yourself in the natural beauty around you. Make sure you put your technology aside.


(6) Move your body!


Scientists have found that regular exercise can decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and increase self-esteem. Moving our bodies us allows us to expel pent-up energy that often leads to feelings of anxiety and restlessness while also releasing endorphins that improve our general feeling of well-being. Research has shown that as little as 5 minutes of aerobic exercise is all it takes to start stimulating an anti-anxiety effect.


(7) Don't rely on social media.


Social might be in the name, but most of these platforms are hardly social. In fact, research has shown that social media leads to more anxiety, not less, often creating feelings of inadequacy, separation, and overwhelm.


Instead, try to create authentic connections with friends and family. Send a text to someone you haven't spoken to in a while, call a friend just to see how they are doing, or hit that meditation app to connect with yourself

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