anxiety in the face of COVID-19

Emily is part of Team Nipple! She is from Long Island and once sold ad space, taught kindergarten and now spends her days raising her kids Bobby (1 years old), and Mary Clare (2 years old) and then writing about it. She will tell you she is both wildly obsessed with her children and overwhelmed by them every day. She was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety 6 weeks after her daughter’s birth. “It brought me strength and passion I didn’t know I had.” – Emily

Emily will take it from here —

The evolving COVID-19 situation is causing worry and anxiety for even the most laidback person. For someone like me, who is managing generalized anxiety, the current global pandemic is a very real trigger.

The biggest challenge is not knowing how it will all play out. There is no way to know what will happen and that feels scary. Accepting that no good comes from worrying about the unknown is the first step to coping with anxiety. If you’re scared or worried and feeling anxious I’ve included several different techniques you can try right now!

5 Techniques to try right now for Coping with COVID-19 Anxiety:

  1. Shifting “What if” to “What is” – A mindfulness technique that has really been helping me create less suffering for myself is remembering the distinction between “what if” and “what is”.  We cannot control or predict the “what if’s”, but they create the worry, anxiety and suffering. Try to bring yourself back to the “what is’s”. What is happening right now-I am safe and my family is in no immediate danger. Watch Cory Muscara’s short video explaining the “what if and what is” technique.

  2. Cold Water Immersion – This is just what it sounds like. When you feel anxious, immerse your body in cold water. When anxiety strikes, it is typically not possible to fully submerge your body so do the next best thing. I splash the coldest water possible on my face and run my wrists under the coldest water. It creates a very similar effect. I am willing to try just about anything for reducing anxiety but when my therapist recommended this it was met with a heavy dose of skepticism. I thought, “really? Cold water on my face is going to make my anxiety go away?” But I figured, “what’s the harm in trying?” A shock of cold water increases the release of norepinephrine (the hormone that calms you down) to the bloodstream which has a positive influence on mood, attention and focus. Don’t knock it till you try it.

  3. Put Down Your Phone – This not a formal mindfulness exercise, it is more just really good advice. The limitless amount of information we have at our fingertips via our smartphones undoubtedly causes us anxiety and suffering, particularly during the current situation. Take a moment to consciously put your phone away, in another room, maybe even turn it off. Then try one of the coping techniques above or just take a get outside and look up at the sky.

  4. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique – This technique forces you into the moment! You use your 5 senses to come back to the present moment. There is no wrong way to do this and I think you will find it forces you back into the moment very quickly.

5 – SEE – name five things you see

4 – FEEL – identify four things you can touch around you

3 – HEAR – acknowledge three things you can hear

2 – SMELL – find two things you can smell

1 – TASTE – identify one thing you can taste

5. Take 5 Breathing – Stretch your left hand out, palm up, fingers spread. Take your right pointer finger and point it at the base of your palm, this is the starting point. Begin to trace each finger from the starting point and back down again. When tracing up, deeply breath in through your nose, when tracing back down, breath out through your mouth. Repeat on all 5 fingers. The breathing slows the heart rate, the tracing provides sensory input to your brain. The technique gives you something to focus on rather than your current worry. Great for kids and adults alike!

I have learned so much about mindfulness and coping with my anxiety from Cory Muscara. Cory is the founder of the Long Island Center for Mindfulness. He serves as faculty at Columbia Teachers College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches mindfulness and positive psychology, and in 2012 spent six months in silence living as a monk in Asia.  He regularly appears on the Dr. Oz show as a guest expert in the topic of mindfulness. He offers a wealth of information on his YouTube channel, check him out!

Come say hi! You con fine me over at @Emilykasel


anxiety + COVID-19

March 13, 2020