5 Ways to Control Anxiety and OCD During the Pandemic

This guest post was written by Dominic.

It's no secret that COVID-19 has turned the lives of everyone upside-down without warning.

Maybe you're adjusting to work or school from home. Maybe you find it hard to focus on things you used to enjoy thanks to the media's persistent negativity. Maybe you or someone you know has unfortunately been infected with the virus.

None of this is easy. This is especially true for those with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. As someone who lives with these struggles, I'd like to offer some tips to handle your mental state during these particularly tough times.

#1: Take Care of Your Physical Health

Our brains do a lot for our bodies. This goes well beyond our mental states. Often, our mentality can be directly affected by our physical habits, for better or for worse.

Make sure you're taking a walk, eating regularly, drinking water, and getting enough sleep. With our bodies in decent shape, a weight is lifted off our minds. All of the things your body needs like fluids, vitamins, and proteins will be in a better balance.

A healthy body means a healthy mind for better decision-making and a better handle on your mood. I know I don't make good decisions when I'm tired or hungry!

#2: Control Your Outgoing Money (If You Can)

Anxiety and OCD prey on our need for control. More often than not, we worry about things we can't control. That can lead us to neglect what can be done and on and on the cycle continues.

Of course, money is a hard topic during this pandemic. A lot of people aren't making as much or are losing the jobs they had. That makes it even more important now to control the one thing we can: the money we spend.

Try cutting out expenses you don't absolutely need. Now might not be the best time to get the new book or video game if that money really needs to go towards something essential.

Also, make a list the night before your weekly grocery shopping. Making a list with the store's circular or flyer helps you find the best deals and makes sure you don't impulse buy. Planning out your meals for the week also means less food waste!

#3: Talk Openly and Honestly with a Friend

When you're in a rough mental state, it can be tough. You feel like you're the only one having the thoughts you have and that they'll never pass.

Believe me, I've had some crazy thoughts in my days, from troubling to outright gruesome. Sometimes they stick around in my head for days, weeks, or months.

But chances are you're not the only one.

Talking with a friend and saying those thoughts out loud takes the power away from them. Inside your head, they may be the biggest thing imaginable. Once they're out in the world, they're just thoughts.

If you have good friends and family who support you, their external perspective really can be just what you need to recenter your mind and regain your focus.

#4: Take a Break from Social Media

When it comes to worries, we all know social media is king. You don't have to look hard or for long to find something new to make you anxious. It seems impossible to go back to the time before you had to worry about it.

But it isn't.

Yes, we're all cooped up inside and use social media to communicate, but that doesn't mean you have to surrender to it.

Put down the phone for just one hour and read a book. Let yourself get lost in something else, something fun. Then try doing that once a day for a week or even a month.

You'll start to realize that social media isn't the entire world. It's a supplement to our world.

Think of it like taking a vitamin. If you're already eating healthy, how much is that vitamin really helping?

Use it to grow your real-world connections while we're all stuck inside. Stay on private messages with your friends instead of doom-scrolling. Most importantly, set time limits for how much screen time you allow yourself.

It doesn't have to be cold turkey. Little changes in how we use technology can drastically reduce its negative impacts on our mental health.

#5: Pay Attention to Your Spirit

Let's face it. Religion and spirituality help a lot of people. A belief in something greater, something with a plan, keep many people-centred.

But even for those who aren't religious, keeping track of your spirit shouldn't be a turnoff. The truth is, we don't know what turns the chemicals in our bodies into what we experience as colours, sounds, tastes, etc. We don't know what bridges the gap between the biological process and emotional experience.

That's more in line with the spirit.

If you have a religion, keep it part of your routine. Pray, meditate, whatever it is that elevates your mind to a higher perspective.

Even a simple mantra helps. Whenever a worry creeps into your head, repeat the mantra.

A thought is just a thought. I am more than this bad moment. This too shall pass.

That level of experience, consciousness, and being present is what the spirit is all about. Find something that keeps you present. Maybe you'll discover a new routine you really enjoy.

Any normalcy we can have is crucial right now.

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