With the news of the Coronavirus pandemic being updated daily, every minute even, are you feeling anxious? If so, you’re in good company. I am too.

I’m a person who is prone to anxiety. At times like these, I have to stop, take a few deep breaths and bring myself back down to a place where I feel calmer, where I can be my own voice of reason.

Here are 5 ways that I’ve found to be effective in reducing my anxiety.

Minimise panic

Pun intended. I’m a minimalist.

What I mean is, don’t catastrophize. I don’t love that word, but it’s the best way to articulate what I mean. I generally try to use the positive tense, rather than the negative. When I googled “what’s the opposite of catastrophizing?”, the word “minimise” was among the suggestions. 
I don’t mean we should minimise the situation, however let’s not fuel our anxiety by thinking of every possible scenario that could play out here. Listen to the experts and heed their advice, but don’t take it as a signal that you should panic and buy up all the toilet paper in store.

Prioritise self care

  • Focus on your health and well being. Look after yourself and fuel your body with all the goodness you can, in order to increase both your physical and mental well being. If I’m feeling healthy and getting plenty of sleep, I feel mentally strong.

  • Treat yourself. I recently used up my usual skincare products and decided to treat myself to some new indulgent products that now form part of my everyday skincare routine. It feels like a bit of a spa-like experience that I’m giving myself every day with little effort. This is a much needed treat, as I haven’t treated myself to anything like a facial or massage in years!

Reduce social media consumption. This includes TV and radio. I’m at the point where I’m tired of constantly hearing about the pandemic, as it literally makes my blood pressure rise. Stay informed, but don’t check the news every 5 minutes. If you must, check it once or twice a day only to get the most important updates and expert advice, but after that, SWITCH IT OFF.   

Keep busy

One of my favourite books is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”  Dale talks about how to crowd worry out of your mind by keeping busy. The idea is, the busier and more focused you are on a task, the less anxious and preoccupied you’ll be about whatever it is that you’ve been worrying about.

Some of my favourite busy tasks to help crowd worry out of my mind are:

  • Clean my house. I reduce my worry AND my house gets clean! Now is the perfect time to do a deep clean of your house! Scrub that oven, unleash on those vertical blinds, and concentrate on vacuuming every last bit of dust out of the corners of your ceiling and vents.

  • Declutter my house. I love the feeling of getting rid of things. It lifts a weight off my shoulders both physically and mentally, when looking around a clear and tidy space in my home that I have just decluttered.

Do all those niggly little tasks you’ve been procrastinating on. Mine are: sewing on buttons; decluttering  and filing paperwork (even minimalists can procrastinate on decluttering tasks!); preparing for your tax return (ugh!), to name a few.

Do something that makes you happy

One of the best ways to reduce your anxiety is to do something that makes you truly happy. 

For me, it’s creating. Right now I’m creating this blog article for you and I’m a lot calmer than I was when I sat down with my laptop. I also love to create videos about minimalism, and I could spend hours filming and editing content if not for the need to eat and sleep and take care of my children!

For you it could be singing/performing, dancing, playing a game, gardening, cooking/baking, working out, the list is endless.
Last weekend I hopped on a bicycle for the first time in over 30 years and went cycling with my family. It was such a joyful experience despite the rusty old bike I was using with too stiff gears, that today I went and bought a better bike (and it’s pink! My favourite colour).

Many events in Australia and globally have been cancelled but instead of taking our children to the Easter show this year, we will be going for a bike ride! Weather permitting of course.

Look out for others

When we switch our focus to others, it helps us to worry less about ourselves.

Let’s check on our neighbours, especially the elderly or those with disabilities or special needs. Do they have enough supplies for the recommended 2 weeks? Do they need help with tasks like ordering some groceries online or knowing where to get help if they need it?

Have compassion for others who are feeling unsettled and on edge – will we be proud of ourselves for bickering over toilet paper in the grocery store aisles, or for being kind to others in our community? 

Focus on the good things

Recent events like the Australian bushfires, drought/water restrictions and now the Coronavirus pandemic have given me a renewed appreciation for our modern comforts and technology. Yes, having to make adjustments is an inconvenience, but it’s short-term.

The panic buying of basic grocery items and resulting shortages has me reflecting on my own consumption habits and considering how I could live more sustainability.  I removed the paper towels from its wooden paper towel holder on our kitchen counter and put them out of sight in a drawer. That one small change has made my entire family stop each time we go to grab a paper towel and think “do I really need to use that? Could I just grab a rag or tea towel instead and throw it in the hamper afterwards?”

Last week my children were both sick with colds and I kept them home longer than normal. It was a real challenge to try and get work done and stay sane, and I thought about what it would be like keeping them home for several weeks if schools are closed in our area. 

There is a real likelihood of them driving my husband and I bonkers, but I also thought about how this would be an opportunity for us to value time together as a family and prioritise family time.

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and the best thing to do is to grab the silver lining in that cloud and make the most of it. I’ll be suggesting we hop on our bikes.