10 Things to Do When You Feel Stress, Anxiety, and Fear About World Events
You might not be able to control what’s going on in the world, but you can control how you react to these new changes.
If you’re feeling stress, anxiety, fear, or even anger about what’s going on in the world right now, you’re not alone, and what you’re experiencing is completely normal. With so many changes flooding into our daily lives all at once, it’s easy for negative emotions to take control when we simultaneously feel so much is out of our control.
However, one thing that is always constant is our ability to take care of ourselves and control our reactions to what we’re experiencing. Self-care is extremely important right now, and it’s key in coping with anxiety, fear, and other uncomfortable emotions.
We’ve gathered up 10 things you can do or simply keep in mind when you’re feeling pressure from anxiety and uncertainty.
1. Reach out to your family and friends on a daily basis through phone calls, messaging, and video chat.
Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have affected many people’s social lives. Even if you’re an introvert by nature and are normally quite happy on your own, keeping in touch with loved ones may feel more important than usual due to the added stress of world events.
Making it a daily habit to reach out to the people you love reminds you that you’re not alone. Text messaging is convenient, but nothing beats hearing a voice over the phone or seeing those important people in your life on screen with video chat.
2. Stretch your body and shrug off your worries with yoga.
Exercise is a great tool for coping with stress, but yoga has been proven to be exceptionally effective for stress management. Spending 30 minutes or more practicing yoga will not only keep you active while you’re at home, but it’ll also help you combat anxiety by helping you feel more grounded.
You can find hundreds of free guided yoga sessions on YouTube, including routines specifically designed for stress relief.
3. Reflect on other hardships you’ve experienced and how you overcame them.
When you find yourself feeling afraid of the unknown, remind yourself of the past obstacles you’ve overcome in your life. Remember how anxious or scared you felt and how you were able to defeat it. You may be able to use those same healthy coping tactics to help you now.
For example, maybe you lost a family member that was very dear to you, and you coped with those feelings by focusing on the happy memories of that person rather than your grief. In a similar way, you may be feeling grief from the loss of your normal life right now. You can fight those feelings by focusing on the happy memories you’re going to make when life returns to normal.
4. Turn off the news and put on a movie that makes you laugh or smile.
While it’s important to stay up to date with the news right now, spending all of your time watching the news can spike your anxiety and make you feel worse about what’s going on.
Turn off the news and put on a movie you love, preferably a comedy. Why? Laughing offers a number of short-term and long-term stress-relieving benefits, including boosting your immune system, releasing endorphins, and relieving feelings of anxiety or depression.
5. Remind yourself that everyone experiences hardships differently and whatever you’re feeling is natural.
It’s easy to compare your emotions to others. Maybe you feel very worried but a family member doesn’t seem concerned at all. Or perhaps you’re a little anxious but a friend is borderline panicking. Rather than wondering if you’re overreacting or underreacting, simply accept that however you’re feeling is natural.
This is especially true if you’re feeling like you’re having a much harder time coping than others. Consider that other things going on in your life may be making these current events much more difficult for you to cope with. For example, maybe you’ve been let go from your job, but your friend who seems so calm is an essential worker with job security. Feeling stressed about finances and a new job search is absolutely normal.
6. Grab a journal and write down how you’re feeling.
Journaling and expressive writing are proven tools for fighting stress and anxiety. Getting your feelings down on paper is very therapeutic. In fact, many people will feel a significant release of tension after just 10 to 15 minutes of writing.
Journaling can also help you better understand your own emotions and why you may be feeling the way you do. You can use cognitive behavioral therapy prompts for additional help.
7. Relax your mind and nourish your body by experimenting with new, healthy recipes.
The food you put into your body plays a big role in how you feel emotionally. Diets high in sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats correlate to anxiety, stress, depression, and even addiction. Rather than eating a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips when you’re feeling down, look up a healthy recipe and head to the kitchen.
Not only will a healthy meal or snack protect your mental and physical health, but science shows that the act of cooking and baking also helps relieve stress.
8. Create a realistic daily routine centered around self-care.
Having a daily routine helps us in multiple ways, from keeping stress at bay to ensuring we eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
You don’t need to follow a strict schedule to benefit from having a routine. Rather than planning your day by the hour, focus more on what responsibilities you need to take care of every day and set aside blocks of time to also practice self-care. Keep your routine flexible, and if something doesn’t work or seems to add stress, change it until you’re happy.
9. Take regular breaks from social media and be conscious of nonfactual information being spread.
There’s a strong link between constant social media use and stress. Social media makes it easy to keep in touch with family and what’s going on in the world, but it also can be a huge trigger for anxiety, anger, and frustration. Social media is also fraught with incorrect information that spreads like wildfire.
Use social media to check in with your loved ones and share a positive post, but consider taking a break from it otherwise.
10. Practice mindfulness during everyday activities, such as drinking a cup of coffee.
Mindfulness exercises help us relieve stress and think more clearly. You can practice mindfulness through meditation and breathing exercises, but you can also do it during your everyday activities by focusing on being as present in the moment as possible.
When you drink your morning coffee, close your eyes and really savor the experience of the sound of your coffee maker dripping, the aroma of the coffee, the sound of your spoon on the sides of the cup as you stir in your creamer, or the heat against your nose before you take a sip. Thinking about every step instantly makes you feel more grounded, and with practice, you’ll feel your anxiety slip away.
Remember that even unfortunate events trigger potentially wonderful new changes in our lives.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.” The changes you’re experiencing right now can be stressful, overwhelming, or downright scary, but if one thing is for certain, it’s that it will pass.
Rather than viewing the current situation as nothing but a negative event, consider what positive events may follow it. You may develop an even closer relationship with your family or your spouse. You may find that you’re actually a much stronger person than you thought. Even losing your job may be a blessing in disguise, as you find a new position that is even more rewarding.