- Deep breathing—this one works. I know because I have used in a lot. It's quick and easy and has been proven to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
- Write it down—journaling is another proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. You may not have time to write a three page journal entry, but you can quickly note your thoughts and feelings to address them later.
- Smell something calming—lavender has calming properties. You can rub a bit of essential oil on your wrist and smell it when you're feeling anxious.
- Have a drink of water—if you're dehydrated, you can't concentrate or think properly. By having a drink you hydrate yourself, but it's also a distraction.
- Chew gum—this has also been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Relax your muscles—focus on long neck, low shoulders and loose fingers.
- Use positive self talk—remind yourself that you are capable and can do this.
- Look at the evidence—remind yourself that you have overcome every obstacle in the past and can get through this one too.
- Listen to music—it's not always possible to do this but you could listen to music before an exam or other stressful situation.
Anxiety and panic attacks usually happen at the most inconvenient time. You can't exactly do a 20 minute mindful meditation in the middle of an exam, but there are other things that you can do. Here are nine things that you can do if you need to calm down in a hurry—some of them you could even do in the middle of an exam:
Let's talk about getting high. Many people turn to alcohol and other drugs to get a high, to find some relief from the stress of life, or to escape. There are other ways to get a high that do not have the same risks and possible side effects. Here are just a few:
It's Mental Health Week. Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation that provides early intervention and support to 12-25 year-olds. Their website is full of information, articles and interactive activities. You can find them at https://headspace.org.au.
It's so easy to get stuck on your screen and while away hours watching YouTube videos or scrolling through social media. These things aren't inherently bad, but you can end up spending a lot of time watching and not living. Here are some things to do that don't involve a screen. Note: you may not be able to do some of them during lockdown.
When you were a kid you marvelled at everything. You were curious and asked why a thousand times a day. By the time you become a teenager, you've lost some of that child-like wonder. It's something that we should nurture all our lives. Even when you're in high school or in the middle of a global pandemic, you can take time to encourage that awe and wonder. I was just sitting in the sun, watching a bird look at his reflection in the side mirror of a car. Take a minute to get outside, if you can, and see what you can find. Rumage through your bookshelf and find a book. Scroll through Netflix and find a documentary. Find something to stimulate your curiosity and wonder.
Hugh van Cuylenburg, co-founder of The Resilience Project, author and public speaker, was a guest on the Mamamia podcast.* He had some great suggestions about surviving lockdown. One of them was to make plans so that you have something to look forward to each day. These plans will obviously be different for everyone. Some people might really look forward to spending two hours sorting through their wardrobe, while for others, it might be their worst nightmare. Here are some suggestions:
The fear of missing out has been around for centuries but it has been exacerbated by mobile phones and social media as we compare our ordinary lives to other people's highlight reels. Researchers have found that the fear of missing out is linked to smartphone and social media usage. This is not surprising really - the more we see other people doing fun, exciting things the more we feel that we are missing out. Ironically, when we are feeling depressed or anxious, our social media usage increases which then increases our fear of missing out, which increases our depression and anxiety etc.
How to minimise FOMO:
Self-care is an important aspect of a healthy, balanced life. There are six main categories of self care: body, mind, emotions, work (study), relationships and spiritual. For more information on this visit https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au. Self-care is a very individual thing - you might hate having a bath but for someone else it's bliss. Find what works for you and try to schedule in a bit of self care each day. It doesn't have to be expensive or take a lot of time. Taking five minutes to brush your hair before bed is quick and free.
You can download our free self-care plan below.