Dealing with Anxiety around COVID-19

These are unprecedented times, and so it’s no wonder our anxiety levels are heightened. As we know the stress this anxiety causes is not good for us, or our hearts. Stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so to protect our heart, we need to do what we can to reduce our anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and the changes it has made to our daily lives. So what do we do?

  • Limit your media time. YES.. of course part of this anxiety is because of our feeling of uncertainty, or lack of control. So we spend a great deal of time trying to gather as much information as we can to perhaps make us feel like we know what’s happening, and what to expect. This helps only to a degree. Consuming yourself with story after story can make you feel overwhelmed, and add to the uncertainty. So take a quick look, set a timer if you need, read only the update from BC or Canada’s Center for Disease Control and move on with your day.
  • Change your perspective – We are tasked with physically distancing ourselves from others in order to slow the spread of this virus. The word isolation itself sounds negative. But if we change the word to something more positive like “me time”, or “family time”, or even “forced rest” or “solitude”, our mind can shift to something more positive. Many of us needed to slow down, to take some time just for us, to spend more quality time with family. So even though this is not the way we would have wanted it, it is in our power to make the most of it. Perhaps use this time to read, meditate, get creative and paint, or write, or learn something new. Many online platforms are offering learning resources for free during this time. Take advantage!
  • Lift your environment – Due to the fact that we are spending more time indoors, within our home. Spend a little time setting up your space to feel more positive! Think of your senses.. sight, sound, and smell… and add an uplifting note to each. For example, place a painting, or picture that make you feel joy in a space you spend most of your time. Take the time to play some uplifting, or calming music in your space, and try lighting a scented candle, or use that diffuser that has been sitting idle to fill your space with a wonderful smell. All these little tricks take very little effort but can make a huge impact on how you feel.
  • Search for the positive – As much as the media is focused on the coronavirus itself, there is also a ton of coverage on the positive things that are happening in our community as we come together during this time. Look for the positive stories and get involved! There are birthday parades where people are coming together in their vehicles to drive by a child’s house on their birthday, putting hearts in windows for kids to find, getting outside and making noise in support of essential care workers, and making chalk drawings on driveways. By thinking about a positive thing you can do to show your support not only makes you feel good, it gives you a purpose and a feeling of helpfulness.
  • Get up and move – Our body is meant to move, and this movement is especially important during this time. It not only helps to keep our immune system functioning well, but it helps to release anxiety. It is ok for you to go outside, just be mindful of keeping your distance from others. Take a walk in the forest, or even around your block. If you can’t get out to walk, look to exercise indoors! You can follow one of our online exercise classes, march on the spot, or do laps in your hallway, or better yet DANCE!! Even simply move your arms in circles while sitting would be great. Look to move however you can.

Yes, these are unprecedented times, but you are not alone. So look for ways you can help settle your mind, and ease the anxiety during this time. We will get through this… together!

Cam & Shawna

Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.