It feels like as soon as you hop in the car and turn on the radio, settle into the couch and flip on the TV, or even just pick up your smartphone, there’s more (alarming!) news waiting for you. Whether it’s an update on the latest state with confirmed cases of COVID-19, or breaking election news, everything seems especially inescapable – and especially stressful.
You’re not alone in your anxiety – according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in three U.S. adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
At this point, it’s a safe bet that you’ve turned off the push notifications on your phone, and you’ve probably upped your handwashing game and cleaned your house from top to bottom in efforts to quell that anxiety. But when even these attempts to quiet your mind are proving ineffective, what can you do to find a sense (or even a smidge) of normalcy?
Here are six tips for tackling anxiety even in the face of a relentless onslaught of news:
- Take a walk or get some exercise. When you keep your body moving, you’re less likely to stay “in your head” with your anxious thoughts. Try to get your heart rate up; it will help the feelings that come with those worry thoughts.
- Physically remove yourself from the situation. If taking a walk isn’t an option, try simply leaving the room. When you literally change the scenery, you’ll afford yourself the opportunity to get a new perspective. And if you can’t change the actual scenery, you can close your eyes and imagine being somewhere else that feels soothing to you.
- Remind yourself that just because you think something is true, it doesn’t make it so. Keep telling yourself this when you find your anxious thoughts spiraling out of control. A simple strategy can be using the words “I’m having the thought that…” in front of your mind’s words.
- Do a quick body scan. Start at the top of your head and go all the way down to your toes; pay attention and self-monitor tension in the body. As you move down the body, release that tension limb by limb and muscle by muscle.
- Tell someone close to you how you’re feeling. Ask them to remind you to put down the phone or turn off the news and to take a deep breath.
- Try journaling. If you’re in the middle of an obsessive spin, try slowing down your thoughts by physically writing them out – put pen to paper, not fingers to smartphone keyboard. Journaling can also provide the opportunity for you to get distance and a different perspective.
If you find that attempts to address your anxiety on your own aren’t working or that your anxiety is impacting your ability to function, it may be time to find a therapist or doctor who specializes in anxiety. Call the Sheppard Pratt Therapy Referral Service Line at 410-938-5000 or use the Care Finder on this website to find services near you.
If you're looking for a program or provider specializing in anxiety, use the Care Finder to find options near you, or call our Therapy Referral Services line.