Since the country has come out of quarantine, many of us feel more anxious.
Back in early May, nearly three out of four Americans already felt the country was reopening too quickly — and with the number of COVID-19 cases now rising again in Orange County, we’re hearing from many of you that stepping back into your old pre-quarantine lives actually feels scarier than ever before.
This is completely normal and to be expected. But it also means that caring for one’s mental health has become critical. We all have bad days and can feel vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed at any given time.
To help with this, the American Psychological Association (APA) recently recommended a series of simple, in-the-moment self-care techniques designed to lower anxiety, release tension, and enhance mood within minutes. We think they’re absolutely wonderful ways to manage one’s own mental health and can work well for your entire family.
The techniques are divided into five basic areas outlined below. We also encourage you to check out their entire set of resources, which include posters, instructional videos, and the science behind each recommendation.
- Calm Yourself
Slowly breathe in for 4, hold it for 4, and then breathe out for 6. Repeat 10 times.
Staying in a state of high alert eventually takes a toll on your physical body. This deep breathing technique will lower your level of physiological arousal.See resources for more: Poster, Video
- Focus Yourself
Slow your racing thoughts by counting backward by three in your mind from 100 (100, 97, 94, etc.). Stress can interrupt your thinking patterns, making you either scattered or too hyper-focused. This interferes with problem-solving. A simple counting task can reset your brain and increase your ability to rationalize and make decisions.
- Ground Yourself
Do a quick scan of your body and notice the air around you and any surfaces you are touching. If possible, close your eyes and focus on the sensations, textures, and temperatures. Feeling overwhelmed can take away your present-moment awareness. This quick check-in on your physical environment allows you to tune back into the details around you and see them more clearly without your mental “filter,” helping you be more effective for those who need you.
- Relax Yourself
One by one, tense each muscle group in your body for 10 seconds and then release. Notice how it feels to let your muscles relax and have the tension leave your body. The stress of your environment shows up as tension in your body, so relaxing your muscles will help release it. It’s a simple thing to do, but you’ll notice greater flexibility and energy in your body, as well as an increased sense of calm.
- Celebrate Yourself
Think about 3 things that went well today. If they involved another person, recognize and thank them whenever possible. COVID-19 gives you no shortage of things to be upset or worried about. Putting an intentional focus on positive events can help increase your sense of control and faith in your own resilience.
Contact us today for professional support
This may very well be the most challenging period of our lifetime. Our skilled therapists can help with compassionate support either in person or remotely via online telehealth.
Call us today at 949.528.6300 or email us at info@OCHealthPsych.com to be matched with one of our providers.
You might also be interested in:
- Online Counseling Basics
- When Coronavirus Fears Trigger Your Anxiety Disorder
- Our Hidden Grief When It Comes to Social Distancing
—Written by Ekua Hagan for Orange County Health Psychologists