Currently, the world feels very overwhelming. It feels somewhat strange to be writing a blog post on how to cope with anxiety induced by a pandemic. However, it also feels important. In the war against this virus, lecturers and college staff are on the frontline. They are putting themselves at risk to keep the cogs turning in the machine called society. I for one extend my absolute gratitude to them. Thank you. Watching my friends who teach get through this and listening to how their day-to-day lives are changing every day, I think it’s prevalent to consider techniques on how to weather the storm.
To some this may feel silly but even practicing simple breathing techniques can help settle your busy mind. The mindfulness app Headspace offers free access to primary, secondary and college level educators, where they can access a variety of different exercises to help unwind the mind.
Taking a walk in nature
Although the news may look dreary and bleak, Spring brings the promise of sunshine. Take a walk after finishing those all-important home calls and Zoom meetings, even if it’s just down the road or into your local forest. Walking in nature boosts stress-busting endorphins and reduces fatigue. Spending time outdoors can put your brain into a meditative state, where you can relax away from all the noise and commotion.
Sometimes you may not have time between marking and planning to pop outside for a walk or sit for a ten-minute meditation. However, taking a few moments when you’re feeling at your limit could help you to recharge and keep going. There are so many breathing techniques out there, it’s all about finding one that suits you. I find breathing in for four counts, holding for four and breathing out for six about three or four times helps to bring the heart rate down and press pause on the anxiety.
Enjoy a hobby
Sure, our usual haunts may be inaccessible but reconnecting to autonomous hobbies can be liberating! When was the last time you had a chance to sit and read a book? Bake a cake, paint, pick up that old guitar collecting dust in the corner. Fortunately, we still have the internet. There will be hundreds of how-to videos or blogs to learn a new skill and keep your mind occupied on something positive and affirming. Check out your local businesses to see if they’re creating any at-home content to take part in.
Gyms may be a no-go and your favourite class might be postponed until further notice but that won’t stop you from grabbing the trainers and going for a run or pulling the yoga mat out of the cupboard and finding a YouTube lesson. Yoga is a perfect way to destress and calm the mind and there’s lots of different versions out there to suit your personality. Your local yogi may even be hosting live web-sessions. Just don’t start splashing Fairy Liquid on your kitchen floor as a makeshift treadmill.
Talking to friends
The idea of having a ‘normal’ conversation now seems an alien concept. However, it’s human nature to want to discuss something concerning you. Give your friends or family a call to talk through each other’s day or take socially distanced walk together. We may not be able to physically comfort each other right now but staying connected is one way to avoid feeling totally isolated.
Whatever technique works for you to cope with the current climate, be it cross-stitch or singing in the shower, why not share what helps you with others?
About the author
After completing a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, Tammy worked as a Learning Support Assistant, with a focus on helping students develop their literacy skills. She then taught as an English teacher at an all-boys comprehensive school in Berkshire. Now she has turned her sights to a career in writing, with education at the heart of it.