5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Boost Happiness during COVID-19
Soon it will be two months since I’ve been in quarantine. Some of you may have started it earlier or later, but regardless of when you started, we’re all in this together. I haven’t left my front yard since March 14, which may seem ridiculous. Even though you’re in a better place than most people, that doesn’t make this situation any easier. We have to find ways to stay happy while managing our stress/anxiety levels.
1) Add more variety to your day.
One of the key factors in eliminating your boredom is incorporating a variety of activities during your day. If you indulge in activities you enjoy, then your dopamine levels tend to taper off for that activity (hence why dopamine detoxes are becoming trendy). Even a simple break can boost how you feel. Try mixing up your daily routines, meals, and fun activities. You can keep the core activity the same, but change the approach. I make a protein shake every day, but sometimes I’ll use the same ingredients to make pancakes or brownies instead. Also, if you’re watching too much TV or on social media, then take a break for a few days.
2) Try using valerian root extract.
Valerian root extract (VRE) comes from valerian, a perennial plant. In ancient Greece and Rome, people used this herb. The roots of the plant contain the extract, which can treat insomnia and anxiety. One study shows valerian root extract “alters functional brain connectivity with anxiety” (1a). VRE “increases GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) in the brain” and blocks the reuptake to induce relaxation (1b). Other studies show the benefits of ingesting GABA supplements, which might be interesting to test in the future (1c).
The first time I tried it, I used a liquid dropper and mixed it with herbal tea. I fell into a deep sleep and woke up after 6 hours, feeling energetic. I did have some vivid dreams, so beware of this as a side effect. Increased anxiety affects your sleep while poor sleep affects your anxiety. The cycle can only end when you learn how to stay calm and manage stress.
3) Treat someone else besides yourself.
Did you know that spending money on someone else can make you happier than spending it on yourself? Treat a family member or friend to a meal (gift card), order a present, or even mail a handmade card (1d). Find local charities that help disadvantaged students and families to send donations. It’s important to help your community during this time.
4) Become calmer by going within.
Meditation can help reduce anxiety and stress. I incorporated meditation into my life in 2018. I was inconsistent for a while, but as of 2019, I’ve been meditating daily. It’s okay if you cannot allocate 30 minutes every day to meditate. The goal is to start small and reap the benefits. I’ve been able to have more clarity in the decisions I make, stay calm, and reduce my stress.
How to get started
Every morning, set a 5-minute timer when you wake up to start your practice. I followed the Honest Guys on Youtube when I first started. You can also download Headspace, Simple Habit, or Insight Timer.
5) Distract yourself from our current reality.
If you’re following the current news, then you’re bound to have some volatile reactions. Sometimes the only outlet is to put a pause on our current reality and shift our focus. Work on personal development with certain brain exercises, go outside (ecotherapy), read books, or listen to music while finishing your chores. Remember, everything is temporary, so this too shall pass.