Mind

3 simple ways to keep stress and anxiety at bay during lockdown

Mindfulness expert Marisa Garau shares her inspiring and surprisingly easy tips, to help us find some calm during this anxious time.

By Marisa Garau
As most of us find ourselves at home, doing our part to stop the spread of Covid-19, many of us are also experiencing a fair deal of anxiety right now.
You might work from home rather than from the office and worry if you'll be losing your job. Maybe you're self-employed and have helplessly watched promising assignments getting cancelled overnight. Or you might be at home with your children and anxiously wonder what the world is coming to. No matter what your situation is: we're all nervous since this is a situation we've never faced before. Moreover, we don't know what the consequences will be in the long term.
But no matter how severe the situation might be, with mindfulness, we can control how we feel and help ourselves become clear-minded and calm while making the best of these challenging weeks. Mindfulness expert Marisa Garau explains how to do this, and shares her inspiring tips.

A total meltdown… or not?

When you're facing a stressful situation, you always have two options to choose from:
  1. Work yourself into a panic and trigger a total emotional meltdown
  2. Stay calm and keep an open mind
It's all too easy to stress out and spend your nights worrying about the future. Will we fall into an economical crisis? How long will that last? Will we be able to continue enjoying our current lifestyle, or will we have to sell the house and accept going through tough changes to keep afloat?
If you're being pestered by these nagging thoughts, you must notice that stressing out doesn't help. It's nothing but a tiring habit that won't get you any positive results. Worrying can exhausts you and can make you more vulnerable to emotional and physical disorders. With Covid-19 looming around the corner, this is the last thing you want, right?
So how can mindfulness help you to keep calm and healthy?
It's all too easy to stress out and spend your nights worrying about the future, but as mindfulness expert Marisa explains, there are some simple ways to stay calm. (Image: Getty)

Limit the influence of the news and the media

You switch on the TV and every item is about the two C's: Corona and Crisis.
Scroll around on Facebook and Instagram, and you drown in all the advice to stay clear of the virus. Open the newspaper and your mind is flooded with articles about falling stock markets and severe economical consequences. Although news in times of crises is crucial to stay updated on the things you must and mustn't do, a lot of news is extra noise for your already flooded brain.
Thanks to breaking news you know exactly how many cases there are in New York, how many people have died in Italy and in which cities thugs are looting the supermarkets. But let's be honest... how helpful is this information to you? In most instances, it isn't.
So, take time to switch off from the latest news updates on TV, the radio and online. While in normal times many of us are more aware and critical of sensational headlines, during an uncertain time when our emotions are heightened, the constant negativity can have a huge impact on your mood and self-confidence.
The less negativity you allow into your life, the better you'll feel. And that won't only benefit you, but also the people around you. So be strong and try to refrain from binge feeding yourself on bad and unhealthy news.

Determine your circle of influence

Since this virus has such an enormous, world-spanning impact, it's understandable if you feel utterly powerless. You're faced with an invisible enemy who could strike at any moment, help!
It's important to not allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Keep your cool and decide what situations you are able to influence, and what situations you simply can't influence. For example; you can no influence on over the tragedy affecting the world, you can no influence on the number of cases and you have no influence on the world economy and that the stock markets have fallen.
However, you definitely have an influence on your own behaviour. You can get groceries for your elderly neighbours and help them stay safe, you can limit your news intake so that you don't slip into negativity or anxiety, you can choose to watch comedies on TV and have a good laugh and you can consciously focus on positive stories and initiatives which nurture your soul.
Knowing what is part of your circle of influence helps you to stop feeling powerless, inspiring you to come up with of all the good things you can do today in your world. This can make you feel useful and appreciated and will lower your stress levels significantly.
Marisa says to focus on things that are within your control but doing things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. (Image: Getty)

Choose to do nothing… and be prepared to be surprised

Rather than searching the web to distract yourself, now is the perfect time to consciously stop doing and practise mindfulness by simply being.
In the past decades, we all have become less focused and more rushed and busy, so being stuck at home might actually be a great opportunity to detox from all the craziness.
Try to remember: when was the last time you didn't do anything? When was the last time you just sat still looking at the trees outside, listening to the wind, enjoying the birdsong in your garden, noticing your very own breath, and realising that you are the miracle of life manifesting itself?
In our culture, we criticise non-doing as being lazy. But non-doing is actually a good and healthy way of silencing our inner chatterbox.
WATCH: The surprising benefits of mindfulness. Story continues below...
So in the coming weeks make good use of having to stay at home, without feeling guilty. Stop stuffing your precious mind with panicky news updates and random Facebook discussions, but instead give your mind a break. Allow your mind to wander freely and practise the art of pondering inspiring concepts that make your soul sing.
From now on, take time to stare out of the window, to just stretch out on the sofa, to just sit in a chair without doing anything.
Behind the initial restlessness and guilt, you'll soon discover a formerly unknown realm of calm and creativity. Your mind may open up to possibilities that you'd never before given the opportunity to enter your consciousness. Don't be surprised if, when this is all behind you, you might find yourself choosing a new path and bravely carving out a bright new life, all because you simply granted yourself time to slow down during lockdown.

A final thought

Did you know that the Chinese character for 'crisis' consists of two elements: 'danger' and 'opportunity'?
It is up to you which path you choose to walk. Will you choose fear, panic and stress? Or will you choose opportunity, by having an honest look at your life and contemplate if it could do with a bit of a renovation?
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented decisions, such as this lockdown. Now is the time to make up the balance, harness your creativity and come up with unprecedented personal resolutions that will encourage you to follow your dreams and change your life for the better.
Mindfulness expert Marisa Garau helps people reduce their stress and create a more fulfilling life with her meditation-free mindfulness approach. In her in-depth article How mindfulness helps to unlearn stress you'll find more tips and practical advice to give your life the positive boost it deserves.