Tips on Reducing Anxiety

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Thursday, March 19, 2020
By Todd D. Giardina, PH. D

These are strange times. The uncertainty is creating stress and fear. For some, there are many strong reactions and emotions.

If this is you, here are a few tips to ease your mind.

Just Breathe sign at Coral Gables Counseling OfficeFocus on Useful Worry, Not Useless Anxiety

This means using a “hurricane prep” attitude – create plans, not problems. When a storm is coming to South Florida, we get ready. Worrying won’t change the storm’s path. But you will sleep better knowing the generator is in place and the important documents are watertight.

We can do the same thing here. There is much you can’t control, focus on what you can. There is good reason to make plans. Plans create predictability and give a sense of control. Useful worry results in answers, while useless anxiety only ends in more questions and “what ifs.”

Limit Where You Get Your Information (And How Often)

Pick a few reliable sources of information and always stick to these. I suggest either governmental or scientific/medical sources. Stay away from random social media posts or conspiracy theories. And truly, regardless of politics or belief, we must give faith to the experts. I don’t go to my mechanic to get tips on my hairstyle, and I don’t advise you to get your disease data from your friend.

In addition to picking limited sources, I also suggest we all limit how much we obsess and ruminate. Logon once or twice a day, gather data, then log off. No need to stare at the 24-hour news cycle – this is bad for your mental well-being and can be disturbing for children. I also advise that you share information or discuss plans separate from children, and restrict that conversation also to no more than 2-3 times a day. This is not a fun conversation topic. Not fun for date night or right before bed. Also, how you talk with your kids and how much you share is very much dependent on the age of your child.  See the blog from Erika that we sent out on Tuesday on how to talk to your kids.

Maintain Routine (and Create New Rituals)

In times of crisis, there is no need to drop all that is normal. Work and school may cease, but routine and ritual must persist. Continue nightly prayers. Keep up with exercise habits (but maybe skip the gym and hit the pavement instead.) Stick to bedtimes. Don’t sacrifice normalcy (even though this all seems so foreign).

And now that we are sharing more family time together at home, maybe create new rituals. Reading together. Discussing current events together. Cooking together. We can grow stronger, together, through these trying times.

Listen, y’all, this is a different global state of events. Be smart. Social distancing is appropriate. Extra attention to cleanliness is necessary.

We have survived similar outbreaks before. We will survive this one too.

Note from CGCC:
This week we are sending out these daily emails with information on managing stress and anxiety. With the current world events, we want to do our part in helping you stay grounded. Next week we will go back to our regular weekly newsletter schedule.