Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Seven hacks to handle your anxiety amidst the coronavirus.
I, like millions of Americans, cope with anxiety daily. Dealing with the influx of gloomy news and positive covid cases amongst African Americans right now is difficult for a lot of us - especially with so many things outside of our control. However, one of the things we DO have control over is our mindset - and our mindset directly impacts how we feel, react, and think. If you are feeling restless, experiencing racing thoughts throughout the day, or going stir crazy, deliberately finding opportunities to be more aware, grateful, and positive can have a significant impact on your mental health. Read on for seven mindset hacks to help you push through those heightened feelings and ill-defined thoughts and feel more empowered and at ease.
Mindset Hack #1: Start Each Day with Gratitude
Make it a practice to start your morning by speaking out loud or journaling who and what you are grateful for. This will enable you to start each day with a positive mind frame and help proactively alleviate negative thoughts, depressing moods, and sneaky anxiety.
Mindset Hack #2: Become Aware of What You’re Thinking
Many of our thinking patterns can be more negative than we realize, especially during increased times of stress and uncertainty. Our thinking patterns directly impact our moods and actions, so we must be mindful of disempowering thoughts and behaviors.
Be aware and consciously choose to have a positive (or more neutral) outlook on personal and professional circumstances. To help you track and boost your thoughts and moods, check out Happify and Stop Breathe Think.
Mindset Hack #3: Retrain Your Brain: Be Intentional With Your Thoughts
Our brain is wired to meditate on negative feelings and experiences. In the book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science Of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson explains that because of our brain evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences, it is easier for us to focus on negative experiences.
The great news is we can change this. Similar to a computer, your brain can be reprogrammed. Train your brain what to focus on and when to ignore bad thoughts. This focus is not simply positive thinking but halting spiraling negative thoughts. We are bigger than our brain and stronger than our worst thoughts.
Mindset Hack #4: Practice Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can help shift negative thinking patterns. During times of crisis like we are experiencing now, positive affirmations can help us reclaim control and our power.
Be sure to personalize your affirmation to work the best for you. Our bodies’ reactions during times of transition, uncertainty, and change will be unique for each person.Ask yourself, “what is the largest concern on my mind?” and “What worries keep me up at night?” Your personalized affirmation should speak directly to these concerns.
Examples of my favorite are below
I give up freely what no longer serves me to create space for what inspires me.
I am entirely up to me. I have choices in all situations. Nothing stands between me and my mental health, wellness, and self-esteem.
I will not stress or obsess over things I cannot control.
I am stronger than my biggest excuse. I am unstoppable!
If you need help creating your own positive affirmation, check out Thought Catalog’s Affirmation Examples.
Mindset Hack #5: Stay Connected
Stay connected with your friends, family, and co-workers. Whether you are swapping Netflix recommendations or self-care ideas - connection on a remote-level is just as important and can be equally effective as a connection in person.
We are all in this together and hearing that you are not alone can bring some comfort.
Also, if your therapist is switching from in-person to telehealth appointments, be sure to stay connected with your therapist. If the telehealth sessions are making you feel awkward check out, Making the Most of Online Therapy During the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Mindset Hack #6: Self-Soothe
Self-soothing is an immediate and powerfully effective way to reduce the intensity of negative emotions. Simply put, it is how we make ourselves feel better. During moments of anxiety and stress, you want to be able to calm yourself without being impulsive or destructive.
The most effective way to determine your go-to self-soothing techniques is to go through the five senses and then go with the one that has the biggest calming effect on you.
Self-Soothing activities may look like:
Lighting a candle or using scented oil
Playing with a fidget spinner or silly putty
Baking your favorite dessert
Mindset Hack #7: Remember This Too Shall Pass
Lastly, remember this too shall pass. While there is not a determined end date yet, remember this isn’t permanent.This - like everything we have overcome - too, shall pass. Seek out the positive and try to focus on that. There are better times ahead.
While a lot of things are outside of our control, it is important to remind ourselves that we have more power than we think.