Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Just when we thought things were getting better, the novel coronavirus started to rear its head once again. Today, we’re back to square one, with the second onslaught of COVID 19 — more different and worrying than the first. The virus continues to run rampant; intermittent lockdowns of varying lengths are again the new normal.
If you find yourself overwhelmed about staying home for extended periods of time during the pandemic, you’re not alone.
The link between Lockdown and Anxiety
Lockdown can be a scary prospect. Lockdown anxiety, as the word suggests, refers to the feelings of worry, restlessness, annoyance and isolation associated with long durations of being confined indoors. That said, it is important to keep in mind that these feelings are completely natural in the face of a crisis, the unknown, or sudden change. It reflects our want for safety, certainty, predictability, and control.
- Constant anxiety about the future
- Being extra vigilant (almost obsessively)
- Fear of leaving home
- Keeping up with COVID-19 news and developments
If you identify with these emotions, that’s okay – it’s going to go away eventually. Read on to understand some very simple techniques to give you a sense of control even during an uncertain time.
Coping With Lockdown Anxiety with Mindfulness
Mindfulness sounds like a complex and complicated term, but it is a very basic concept. It’s nothing more than our desire to be completely present, mindful of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be distracted by what’s going on around us as individuals.
- Mindfulness of Feeling: Accept anxiety as a natural human emotion instead of ignoring, fighting, rejecting, or fearing it. Do not judge yourself if you’re experiencing it. Denying the truth is not a good foundation for a healthy life. Turn toward your emotions and allow yourself to be anxious rather than trying to pinpoint why you are anxious. You will no longer battle anxiety if you admit to yourself that you are anxious. When you battle the emotion, you’re telling yourself, “This is terrible!” “I’m won’t be able to handle it!” But, what happens after that? You become more anxious. When you feel anxious, say to yourself: “I’m feeling very anxious, but that’s OK. This shall pass”
- Mindfulness of Touching: Making the mundane interesting is the art of mindfulness. The more you pay attention to your senses, the more routine things will take on a new meaning and existence. Pick up any everyday item and put it in front of you: a book, a pillow, a plate, an apple, and so on. Run your fingers along with this item while gently holding it, exploring the feeling of touching the object with your fingers, feeling its shape, texture, and consistency. Observe how the objects actually feel, and consider how much you probably take the feeling for granted by ignoring your sense of touch. Continue telling yourself what you are feeling. Do this for 1-2 minutes. You will notice that during that time you did not have any anxiety in your mind!
- Mindfulness of Smelling: There’s an old saying that goes, “You need to stop and smell the roses!” But it seems impossible to appreciate all the wonder and beauty unless we stop or at least slowdown. Mindful smelling involves activating your sense of smell to be more aware of our present-moment experience. Light a scented candle or burn some incense and spend some time exploring its smell. Bring attention to the scent by taking a deep breath and focus. Dive deep into the fragrance of the candle and notice the difference in your thoughts and approaches instantly.
- Mindfulness of Listening: The goal of mindful listening is to silence your inner chatter and judgment about the genre or lyrics of the song. Choose a song, close your eyes, and concentrate on the beat. Follow the lyrics closely, pay attention to the various instruments, and deeply connect with the rhythms. Choose a song with a repeating phrase, expression, or melody line as an alternative. Count the number of times you hear the same detail.
- Mindfulness of Breathing: It is not difficult to breathe. Isn’t it the most natural thing in this world? It kind of happens on its own, so there’s nothing complicated about it, isn’t it? That is most likely not the case when you are stressed. To calm yourself, mentally picture two colors – the first that represents how you want to feel (e.g. happy, calm, peaceful), and the second that represents what stresses you. Inhale the color that calms you and exhale the color that stresses you.
Incorporate these strategies into your everyday routine to combat anxiety and get through the lockdown time. And above everything else, be safe; stay indoors as much as possible.
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