According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety. Anxiety disorders may develop from a set of risk factors such as life events, genetics, brain chemistry, and personality.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before, seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and the paranoia of experiencing another one, constant and unsubstantiated fear that causes significant distress and interferes with daily life and irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place or situation that poses little or no threat of danger.
Below are helpful tips for calming anxiety right now.
Pull out a writing journal and write truthfully about the things that you are feeling. Your words are safe. They are protected. They are real. Journaling helps me a ton.
Journaling about the things that you are grateful for may be helpful as well. There is no wrong way to do this. Remember – the priority is doing the thing that helps you.
2. Call On Your Tribe
When we experience acute stress, we tend to cope much better when we have social support. Doing so may seem tough in the current time of distancing – but being physically distant does not mean we are resorted to being emotionally or socially distant.
Reach out to your tribe and stay connected. FaceTimes, calls, and texts go a long way – especially when you need loved ones the most.
3. Say “No”
It is never a good idea to put too much on your plate – and your capacity will (and should) be even more limited in times of stress and anxiety. Grow comfortable turning down requests and offers as to not overwhelm yourself. The sky will not fall, I promise.
You teach others how to love + protect you through the way that you love + protect yourself.
Meditation is an ancient wellness practice that focuses on training awareness, attention, and compassion. Research has found that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.
Black Girl in Om and Black Girls Breathing are two groups that offer guided meditations for Black women. I highly recommend joining their mailing lists and following them on social media so that their helpful resources are a fingertip away when you need them most.
5. Deep Breaths
Slowing down your breathing can help to ground you in the present moment and reduce the spiral of negative thoughts. Be sure to avoid breathing too quickly, as this can cause hyperventilation. Instead, take a thorough exhale first. Push all of the air out of your lungs and then allow your lungs to do the work of inhaling.
Next, exhale a bit longer and allow your lungs to, once again, inhale air. Repeat this a few more times – allowing yourself to exhale for five seconds and inhale for four seconds.
6. Essential Oils
Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. The smell of essential oils can help alleviate anxiety, as it effectively stimulates areas of the brain that are responsible for our emotions. When we combine essential oils with mindfulness (a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment), they can help release negative emotions, calm the mind and reduce stress.
One of the most common essential oils for relaxation is lavender. My personal favorite for reducing anxiety is peppermint.