We’ve now been living with a global pandemic for nearly a year and anxiety levels are at an all-time high – especially for mums who are stretched to their limit with juggling work, homeschooling and managing day-to-day life.
It’s no wonder our mental health has taken a beating and many people who don’t suffer from clinical anxiety are now suffering from a “low” level of consistent anxiety due to forced lifestyle changes.
Having spoken to clinical psychologist Dr. Clare Roberts, it is normal to be experiencing low levels of anxiety given the loss of equilibrium in our lives.
So how do we deal with the anxiety we feel now?
Did you know that when your body holds tension, it signals to your brain that you are anxious which then makes you anxious? It’s a vicious cycle.
So, what do we do to manage these low levels of anxiety? How do we stave off the walls closing in on us?
Here are 7 ways to reduce (or get rid of) pandemic-induced anxiety and stress that will not only help you with the here and now, but create habits that will continue to help you in your life going forward.
1. Mindful body check
Do a mindful body check. This can take just 1 minute. During this process, you will notice where any tension is sitting in your body. Being conscious of the tension means you can actively try and reduce it.
Do you feel tension in your tummy or your neck? Do you clench your jaw? During this quick exercise, you notice and are able to reduce the tension. This will send signals to your brain that you are no longer anxious.
For an example of how to do a 1-minute body check, jump into my free FB Group where I did a masterclass with Dr Clare Roberts. If you don’t have time to listen to the full masterclass, speed through to minute 26:30 where we do our 1-minute busy mum meditation. It was amazing how quickly this worked for me.
If you have a little longer, here is a link to a 10-minute meditation for anxiety by Dr. Clare Roberts.
2. Deep breathing
This is a well-known practice and technique to reduce stress and anxiety.
” Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.” *
Here is a Generation Calm 5-minute guided breathing exercise.
3. Flow State
Find your flow state, even for just a few minutes. This is when you’re completely immersed in a task and only focused on that task. It allows your mind to switch off and calm itself. What activities can you do that calm your mind? What could you do to reduce your stress and anxiety?
For me, it’s gardening or cooking. Dr. Clare Roberts said she sits outside and star gazes for 5 minutes. My hands have to be busy to switch my mind off. We are all different and star gazing wouldn’t work for me.
Can you think of what would work for you?
Some people knit, read, dance or exercise.
Top tip: If you exercise, try and avoid doing anything else like watching TV. Let your mind focus on your body.
Getting into your flow state doesn’t need to be for a long time, just a few minutes to allow your brain to quieten the noise, focus, and regroup.
4. Clutter in the home & workplace
It’s been proven that a cluttered home or workspace contributes to a cluttered mind. Since so many of us are working from home, can you find a way to reduce the work clutter in your living space?
Here are some possible ways:
- Clear your workspace every day. If you’re working at home in a communal space like the lounge or dining room table, clear your work space at the end of the day and put your laptop and work-related stuff to one side. It will help set work-home boundaries since we now feel like we are living at work.
- If you have an office space, clean it up at the end of every day. This gives you a way to sort your work as you tidy-up and helps clarify what needs to be prioritised the next day.
5. Top 5 to-do list
Write down your top 5 tasks for the next day. I do this every day and I do it on post-its. A friend emails herself every evening with her “to-do” list for the next day. Write it on a piece of paper and put it on your closed laptop. Do you have a whiteboard or task list on your phone?
These top 5 tasks don’t have to be all work-related and can include personal tasks.
This takes the priorities out of your head and makes them actions to execute once written down. It also removes the stress of having to continually think about them because they are written down and can be retrieved the next day.
6. Stop multitasking
This is a major one for busy mums. We’re always doing a million things at once, but it has been proven that multitasking reduces your efficiency.
At first, this may take a bit of discipline, but it is a good habit to start. Start a task, complete it and move on.
Other ways I avoid multitasking:
- Only have browsers open that pertain to the current task.
- Switch off email notifications while working on that task.
- Stop push notifications on the phone temporarily to allow me to concentrate and not be pinged and pulled off task.
- Set a timer either on the phone or the tomato timer (Pomodoro technique) in my browser.
7. Quick Brain dump or journaling
Do a brain dump or journal. I know you’re rolling your eyes and saying, “I don’t have time for this!” I’m not saying write pages and pages of your feelings… we don’t have time and we don’t live in the movies. (Unless you love writing of course, then go for it.)
Take 5 minutes to jot down what you’re feeling. It can be bullet points. Often you don’t know what emotions you are carrying with you or what you think about something until you stop and write them down. Simply writing those down acknowledges the emotions and releases them, which in turn, clears your mind. Although it may not give you answers, it will definitely help you clear the brain clutter.
These 7 techniques can instantly reduce your anxiety, stress and mental clutter. All of these can also become healthy habits that help cope not only with our tumultuous lives now, but our busy mums’ lives going forward.
In conclusion, small incremental changes to our lifestyles over the long term have lasting positive effects on our health and well-being.
P.S. When you’re ready and want my support to create healthier lifestyle habits to thrive as a busy mum, here are five ways I can help you…
- Take my free quiz: ‘What kind of busy mum are you?’ and find out. Then get access to tips, tools and techniques to help you thrive.
- Join my community Healthy Thriving Career Mums. The No.1 free group for career mums who want to build healthier habits and thrive.
- Subscribe and listen to the Healthy & Thriving Career Mums podcast all about health, habits and mindset.
- Grab a copy of my ‘Healthy Hacks Toolkit for Busy Career Mums’ (e-book) to work on healthier & sustainable habits so you can thrive.
- Work with me in my Healthy Habits Reset coaching program or 1-2-1 with my coaching packages.
Dr. Clare Roberts’s channel Generation Calm is where you can become a master at reducing your stress and anxiety naturally in your own time, so you can keep your body and mind feeling great. Remember to hit the LIKE button and SUBSCRIBE for a new video every week.
* The American Institute of Stress