Life is especially full of stress and anxiety during the pandemic, and worry can become a habit. But habits can be broken. Here are seven secrets to free you from fretting and set you on your way to a fearless life.
- Adopt sensible routine, whatever has changed in your life
- Limit ‘to-do’ list
- Banish procrastination
- Be on time
- Choose your company – only people who lift your spirits on the guest list!
- Limit technology, including the News
- Use positive affirmations
HAVE A SENSIBLE ROUTINE
It may surprise you to learn that adopting a routine can ease your worries, but it’s true. The brain loves a rhythm to get into and it’s reassuring, in an unpredictable world, to know what you’re doing and when.
Your routine should include some pleasant, soothing activities. For instance, ten minutes to meditate, showering with a special soap, exercising, reading some uplifting poetry or quotes, writing your journal – all of these will help define your day and slow the pace. Have a proper lunch hour and a regular bedtime. Whatever else may seem out of control, having these constants in your day will calm you down.
LIMIT YOUR ‘TO-DO’ LIST
Having a list of things to do can make you feel in control. You don’t have to worry about forgetting something. However, too much focus on the list will have the opposite effect, continually prodding you about stuff you haven’t done.
It can be better to have a general note-book where you write anything that you don’t want to forget. For instance, friends you want to keep in touch with, courses, holidays, hobbies you want to find out about, books you’ve borrowed and must return – all of these need to be remembered, but they aren’t urgent and if you do not do them today it won’t matter.
Select three or four things that you do need to tackle immediately and write this separately. During the pandemic this should include phoning/zooming family and friends, exercise and treats for you. Get on with it as soon as possible and tick off your completed jobs triumphantly. Always pat yourself on the back for what you have done, rather than dwelling on what you haven’t.
Do you put off unpleasant or boring tasks for as long as you can? This has to stop. You may think you’re avoiding the issue but it’s like a shadow in the back of your mind, always keeping you in the worry zone.
If something has to be done, just do it. Once you get in the habit of this it will be second nature and everything will flow.
BE ON TIME
If you are always running late then you’re on edge all the time. Even if you tell yourself it doesn’t matter, fear of missing something, letting people down or annoying them just hangs over you.
Being late can be an ingrained habit. It could be because you’re lazy – if so, is your laziness making you happy? Don’t you owe it to yourself to get going? Or it could be that you’re procrastinating (see above). But more likely you’re an active, achieving person who hates to waste a minute and always believes they can do one more little job before leaving. Unfortunately the chances are that the ‘little job’ ends up taking too long and being rushed – so leading to more worry.
If you’re habitually late get in the habit of putting dates in your diary half an hour earlier than you really have to be there. Put your clocks ten minutes fast. Always assemble everything you need well ahead of time and leave your coat and bag by the door – it’s always those last minute bits that take the time. See how much more chilled and in control you feel when you arrive punctually!
And if the pandemic has taken away your schedule, make a sensible one of your own. Be on time for your on-line yoga or zoom meeting with friends.
CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY
Observe how the people you spend your time with make you feel. Do some make you stressed and on edge? Are there people who play on your insecurities, make you feel small, arouse anxiety by dwelling on bad news and disaster, drain your energies by their own anxieties, etc? If so, keep away from them as much as you can. This is especially important during the Covid pandemic. thinking positively is better for your health.
It may be better to limit time watching the news and on social media if you are being bombarded by negativity. There is plenty of good news, hope and kindness in the world, even in the autumn of 2020. The problem is such stories carry little drama. When you feel overwhelmed by bad news, watch a happy film and imagine how many favours nice people are doing for each other right now, how many lives being saved and good news arriving on doorsteps.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO TECHNOLOGY
Phones and TVs give off radiation that isn’t good for us. You may not be aware of it, but gradually such appliances make your stress levels rise.
And of course these appliances expose you to the media, which can be very stimulating. Adverts, gripping films, pressing invitations to social engagements, Facebook posts that make you envious or sad – add to all of this too much caffeine, sugar and/or alcohol and your mind can go frantic. Besides, there are countless distressing stories about the virus. However much you sympathise with others, it helps no-one to get down and anxious. Subtly and gradually all of this can make you more prone to anxiety. But you are in control so set yourself free and switch off.
PRACTICE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALISATIONS
Dwelling on the negative can become a habit. Maybe you are forever stressing the current news, about your loved ones having an accident, or losing your job, or being burgled, or any of a host of misfortunes, all of which are most unlikely to happen.
Re-programme your mind to picture nice things. Day-dream for five minutes about winning the lottery or getting a fantastic job, or just about more everyday things such as a date with a friend you’re looking forward to. Every minute spent thinking about something nice is a massive stride out of the worry-zone!
Stay safe and be happy!