How to Conquer Your Fear and Anxiety to Be Positive During Lockdown

Many of us are living in an almost permanent state of fear right now and this is wreaking havoc on our bodies and minds.  Just how can we conquer our fear and try to be more positive as the lockdown continues?

The Good News

At the start of the current outbreak, most of us thought this was something that happened to other people.  But as the illness has got closer and closer, we have begun to panic.  I noticed recently that here in the UK the newscasters are now saying "from which most people will recover" as part of their daily briefing on horrific death statistics.

If only they had been required to add that caveat from the beginning!

So many people I have spoken to were under the impression that a CV diagnosis inevitably meant hospitalisation and high mortality odds.

And no wonder!  It has sometimes seemed that the news programmes have relished reporting the daily doom and gloom, with barely a word for all the thousands of cases out there who have never even reported to their GP or phoned the NHS 111 number, let alone gone to hospital.

In my own small experience, I know 9 people who have had the disease.  Only 1 has been admitted to hospital.  All are now fine or recovering.

Our neighbour works at the local hospital.  They have had 29 patient deaths, and more than 70 who have recovered and gone home.  All of those deaths were elderly and frail people.

Yes, these two examples are anecdotal, but they cannot be uncommon.  And certainly do not reflect the appalling picture we are daily presented with on the news.

Remind yourself:

Most people will have only minor symptoms: mild fever and mild cough.

Many, especially children and young people, will be asymptomatic.

Most children and their parents will have only mild symptoms, if any, even if they contract the virus.

How to Conquer Panic

Intellectually you know the good stuff already.  You've done the research.  You know the facts.  But fear itself is like a virus that spreads quickly amongst people.

You know that panicking does not do any good, only harm.  Just think of all those emptied supermarket shelves.  But just how can you overcome the fear?

1. Be well informed

Information is the key to solving any problem.  Look for details on how the disease works, how it spreads, what preventive measures to take, and what is the existing treatment.

Complement this information with the actual figures of what is happening around you and all over the world.  Knowing things like the number of infections, the number of deaths and the number of recoveries can give a clear idea of the progression of the disease and its severity.

When seeking information, be careful of the sources you use.  You must only use reputable news sources as the rest can spread inaccurate information that can harm you.

Try to limit your news input to one programme or newspaper a day.  And remember to focus on the good news, like I did above.  If you can bear it, try to take regular breaks from the news.  No TV news or Internet for a couple of days would do us all the power of good!

2. Deal with anxiety

It is perfectly normal to suffer from anxiety during times of uncertainty.

Stress at any time can cause people to make decisions that are not well thought out, such as spending rent money on loads of toilet paper in fear of a shortage!

See: Simple Steps to Manage Anxiety

3. Have a plan

Think about how you will handle all aspects of self-isolation.

4. Remember that it will end

Today I'm having a bad day.  Yesterday wasn't as bad, tomorrow will be better.  With the lockdown here extended by at least another three weeks it seems to be going on forever.  There are places we want to go, things we want to do, people we want to see.  It's hard.

But, the one thing I can remind myself of is that it will end.  We don't know when yet, but it will.  And we will, as one poem has put it, emerge blinking into the light.

Never has the adage this too shall pass been more apt.

How to handle a panic attack

If you find yourself in the throes of a full blow panic attack, here's how to handle it.

At the outset, you need to realize that anxiety is a feeling which stems from the mind - with raging negative thoughts and fears.  This overwhelming feeling then affects your whole body which can cause a flight or fight response, cause you to freeze, or cause hyperventilation

First, recognize your feelings as feelings of anxiety.  Then start to counter them with positive and happy thoughts.  Notice the sunshine, the bird song outside your window, or look at an item or picture that reminds you of better times or someone special.

Once you have dealt with the mind, you can tackle the body.  Sit down or lie down, close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and keep focusing on positive thoughts while telling your body to relax.  Repeat "You're safe" out loud or in your head can help.

You should experience a more relaxed feeling after a few minutes.  Maintain your deep breathing and then do some stretches or yoga to centre your body again.

How to Deal with Fear

Just what can you do when you start to worry?  here's how to manage fear when it arises:

1. Press pause


DROP - whatever you're thinking about

BREATHE - take several deep breaths to calm your body and stop the rush of stress hormones.

This technique stops you getting overwhelmed and gives you a chance to think then respond to your fears.

2. Notice why

What thoughts are causing you to feel worried right now?

Probably it is fear of yourself or someone you know getting ill.  Recognise that this probably won't happen.  Nobody knows what will happen in the future.

3. Calm your mind

Take charge of your thoughts.  Remind yourself of the reality that you and your loved ones will probably be OK.  And remind yourself that, whatever happens, you have the strength to deal with it.

Use that mantra again: "We are safe."

4. Empower yourself

Do what you can do.  eat well, sleep well, relax and reduce worry and stress.

Take responsible health measures.  Cultivate a positive attitude.  Practice social distancing when you go out, keep your home clean.  You are doing everything you can.

5. Spread love

Look after those close to you.  In your own home, or by leaving groceries on your relative's door step, posting chocolate through a friend's letterbox, picking up the phone, however you can connect with others.

Don't judge people when you're out.  Be positive, be happy, spread love.

How to Be Positive

Fear lowers your immune system so it is not helpful right now.  Remind yourself that this period of time will end.  Remind yourself that the vast majority of people will recover and be fine.

Focus on how you feel right now.  You are healthy, you are strong.  Do everything you can to strengthen your immune system and get plenty of exercise outdoors on your daily walk and in your garden.

Even if it isn't your thing, an affirmation or mantra may be useful right now as a way to centre and guide your anxious mind and quiet your fears.

Two of my favourites are "You are safe."  and "All is well."

Using them is almost like having a talk to your own subconscious, so try repeating them aloud or silently as you walk or sit or cook, or when you wake up in the morning.

Repeat your mantra whenever you feel anxious or fearful, or feel your mind racing away with negative thoughts and conjecture.

Positive Daily Actions

Fill your day and your mind with positive things to do.  Make a daily list of things to do that make your soul sing.  After all, you may never get this golden opportunity of so much free time again!

Do things that make you happy, indulge yourself, and make daily self care a priority.

Here are 7 positive actions to do every day:

1. Exercise

Physical activity boosts serotonin which combats depression, and endorphins which make you feel good.  It also helps to combat anxiety and can help to strengthen your immune system.

Exercising outdoors will have the most benefits, so work out in your garden or go for a run, bike ride or walk outside, whatever the weather.

See: Easy Health and Fitness Tips for Beginners

2. Relaxation

Take some time to notice how your body and mind feel.  Do you experience waves of panic or is more a low level anxiety?  Do you have a headache, are you shoulders and neck stiff, does your heart race, or do you feel nauseous?

You could also begin a daily meditation practice to create more calm feelings as you relax, but also to connect with your subconscious.

3. Eat healthily

What a perfect opportunity to sort out your diet?  Quit the junk food, the unhealthy snacks and the alcohol, and start cooking again.  Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit, and go as plant-based as you can.  You'll be healthier, sleep better and, combined with exercise, start to get fitter too.

If you really don't know how to cook, try a recipe box.  Fresh food all measured out and delivered to your door, all you have to do is throw it together and eat.  We love Mindful Chef.

4. Improve your gut health

Your gut probably isn't something you give much thought to.  But there is a strong link between gut health and various aspects of your body.  Your mental health, mood and immune system can all be affected by the health of your gut.  Improve it by eating well, exercise, sleeping well and drinking plenty of water.

Eating more healthily including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well pre- and probiotic foods such as asparagus, leeks, onions, potato skins, greens, bananas, oats and live yogurt is a great start for your gut.  Add fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir will give your gut health even more of a boost.

5. Help others

Take time to check on your family, friends and neighbours.  Run errands for them if you can, or simply make a phone call to check in on them and offer a virtual hug.

Helping others enables connection, and also gives the person helping a feeling of more purpose and connection.

6. Laugh

Studies have repeatedly shown that laughter significantly boosts both mood and the immune system.  It decreases stress hormones, increases immune strengthening cells and promotes infection-fighting antibodies which improve your resistance to disease.

Try playing this hilarious lockdown bingo online with friends and family.

7. Sleep well

However much your mind races as you try to fall asleep, getting lots of good quality sleep will make a huge difference to your health and your anxiety.

To help you get to sleep more easily, create a sleep routine of a warm bath, a relaxing drink, and some relaxation or meditation practice.

See: How to Sleep Better Every Night

See an Opportunity

This time might be best seen as opportunity.  An opportunity to prioritise living over working.  An opportunity to spend your time doing things that matter to you, and finding new things you love to do.

It's also an opportunity to change your lifestyle.  To become more healthy, to take a daily walk, to rediscover where you live.  To eat better, sleep better, and to concentrate on being rather than doing.

Take this time to do all those things you've been meaning to do for a long time, from working more flexibly to living more healthily.

Right now is the perfect time to take better care of your body and your mind, and to enjoy life more.  Don't let your fear hold you back.

Remember These Facts

Social distancing works.

The virus can be stopped.

The virus can be contained - see Taiwan and South Korea.

Most people have no symptoms or only mild ones.

Most people who go into hospital will recover.

If this 106 year old lady can get better, the odds are pretty high for you too!

Stay safe x

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