Today, CNN reported that right now during the pandemic, 1 in 3 people say they feel depressed and 1 in 4 people say they feel anxious. These numbers are up dramatically since before the pandemic. People are feeling out of control and like the future is dire. Even people who do not suffer from mood disorders are experiencing greater depression and anxiety.
In times like this when you might be physically isolated from those you love and worried about the future, there are things you can do to find relief and feel better now.
One thing that works well is to take your focus off of the future and bring it back to the present. We can’t control what things will be like tomorrow or in the fall, but we can control what they’re like right now. Buddhists are trained to look at today, not yesterday or tomorrow, because it is today where we live and can make decisions and exert our control. Bringing your focus back to just today and what you can do to make today great can provide you with the control and power over your life that will make worry and anxiety recede.
Deep breathing is another tool that you can use anywhere and anytime to feel better immediately. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, you can take a few seconds to close your eyes and just focus on your breath since you’re constantly breathing anyway! and bring in your inhale to the count of ten, hold your breath for a count of ten, and then exhale to the count of ten and hold your breath at the bottom for a count of ten. Doing this cycle three or four times in a row will center you and filter out the stress that was causing you anxiety or depression and refocus your mind and spirit for what comes next.
Another tool that can give you immediate relief is hobbies or leisure time. I have learned to cultivate many hobbies through the years when I am by myself that give me great relief. There are many activities you can do that are free or cost very little, such as Pinterest, journaling, drawing, reading, watching Netflix, going for a walk in your neighborhood or doing a craft. Getting absorbed in doing an activity can provide you with an escape from your feelings and a release of negative energy and emotions.
If you find that you are still unable to shed your negative emotions after giving these tools a try, please consider contacting your doctor or therapist, or if it is after hours and you are having an emergency, you can always call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Wishing you well on your journey during this pandemic and always!
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