Coping with Anxiety and Depression During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Nearly one third of all Americans are reporting signs of clinical anxiety and depression during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent survey by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) partnered with the Census Bureau.
The hardest hit groups among all ages surveyed included young people ages 18 to 29, women, those with less than a high school diploma and those reported as non-Hispanic, other races or multiple races.
The survey was taken over the period of April 23 through May 19, so this is a current picture of how many of us are feeling right now.
As the author of not just one but two books about how to heal depression naturally and another book of breathing exercises, hand mudras and affirmations that lowers anxiety, I have a few thoughts on how we can all cope with anxiety and depression during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Know where you are on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
- Cultivate compassion for yourself and others.
- Give yourself time to process.
- Take care of your mind with repatterning, breathwork, meditation and prayer.
Know where you are on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. I’m a big fan of encouraging all my clients to know where they are on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. This is the self reported inventory of how many major life stressors you have endured over any 12-month period.
The sum of the life change units of the applicable events in the past year of an individual’s life gives a rough estimate of how stress affects health.
|Life event||Life change units|
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Gain a new family member||39|
|Change in financial state||38|
|Death of a close friend||37|
|Change to different line of work||36|
|Change in frequency of arguments||35|
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan||30|
|Change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Child leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Spouse starts or stops work||26|
|Beginning or end of school||26|
|Change in living conditions||25|
|Revision of personal habits||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in working hours or conditions||20|
|Change in residence||20|
|Change in schools||20|
|Change in recreation||19|
|Change in church activities||19|
|Change in social activities||18|
|Minor mortgage or loan||17|
|Change in sleeping habits||16|
|Change in number of family reunions||15|
|Change in eating habits||15|
|Minor violation of law||11|
Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.
Of course, not every major stress is listed here. For example, there’s no place to consider if you’ve just broken up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. But you can get a general idea.
If you recognize you have a high score on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, I recommend you do not pile on. Don’t add to your stress by pushing yourself harder.
The higher your stress score on the Holmes and Rahe scale, the more self care you will need to recover.
Although there may be times to grit your teeth and push, personally I don’t believe now is the best time for that particular approach.
Cultivate compassion for yourself and others. Recognize that just as you are more stressed than usual, so are literally all the other people around you.
This is a good time to remember the second of the four agreements recommended by Don Miguel Ruiz: “Don’t take anything personally.”
Even though it feels intensely personal to lose your job, to get very sick, when someone you love passes away or your income gets slashed in half, we have to remember that people all over the globe are facing the same challenges, often with fewer resources than we ourselves may be privileged to enjoy.
When you don’t take what happens personally, you stay out of the victim-perpetrator drama.
When you see yourself as a victim, you disconnect from your personal power.
When you see other people, the government or the virus itself as a perpetrator, you will remain angry, depressed, anxious and frustrated.
Compassion is a quality of the heart.
When you feel compassion for yourself, you cut yourself some slack.
When you feel compassion for others, you let go of the habit of judging everything and everyone.
You allow other people to go through their own experience without needing to control, correct, fix or condemn.
Give yourself time to process.
When you go through a lot of changes, you have to allow your whole mind, body and spirit to catch up.
The bigger the changes, the more time you will need to process everything that has happened to you.
What does it look like to process?
- Spending time in nature
- Allowing yourself to feel what you’re actually feeling without judging yourself for feeling bad
- Getting more sleep
- Giving yourself permission to get more rest
- Talking with your friends and loved ones
- Reconsidering where you have been and where you might like to go next
Processing is a lot like digestion.
Many people overlook the energy it actually takes for their body to process the food they eat.
If you find yourself feeling highly emotional or experiencing sudden outbursts, you may not be allowing yourself time to process.
Create the space to process by not piling on more activities, to-do lists, expectations or requirements right now.
Take care of your mind with repatterning, breathwork, meditation and prayer.
It’s good to remember that your soul controls your mind.
Your mind controls your emotions.
Your emotions control your energy.
Your energy system controls what happens in your physical body.
The thoughts you think about what has happened to you, about the virus, regarding the planet and the state of our government – all of those conclusions you have drawn in your mind – creates the way you’re feeling right now.
Unless you have integrated your right and left hemispheres, when you are stressed, half your brain is literally 75 to 85 percent shut down.
As one of my clients wisely observed years ago, “It’s like I’m operating with half a brain.”
When you are stuck in your left hemisphere, you feel anxious.
When you are stuck in your right hemisphere, you feel depressed.
You can integrate the two hemispheres of your brain by repatterning.
This is a natural healing remedy not only for anxiety and depression but also for increasing your access to your full brain potential.
Meditation not only calms your mind but creates the space for new insights, also known as soul guidance or intuition, to drop in. You can watch and listen to a Global Healing Meditation I co-created at this link.
Many people feel so overwhelmed by mind chatter that they are unable to quiet their mind enough to meditate.
Breathwork is one of the most powerful tools you have to calm your mind, access a peaceful state and create the space in your mind where meditation is actually possible.
You can literally cut your anxiety in half by practicing the Eight Minutes to Inner Peace, a breathwork routine I put together that is described in detail in The Little Book of Breathwork.
Since the middle of March, I have given The Little Book of Breathwork to people in 12 different countries.
Many people are surprised just how quickly these breathing exercises, hand mudras and affirmations actually work.
Plus, you can practice these anytime, anywhere – a foolproof tool to make it easier for you to cope no matter how deeply depressed or anxious you feel.
Last but not least, we have to remember the power of prayer.
I grew up in the Christian tradition – Christ Church Episcopal in Savannah, as a matter of fact.
Because our soul controls our mind, there is no tool more powerful than reaching out for divine connection.
Those of you who have read my books know that my books are filled with prayers.
There are times in life when nothing anybody can say can make you feel better but forming and maintaining your own divine connection can bless you with the strength to pull through.
What is healing? Healing happens when you honestly face how you actually feel and take the steps necessary to feel better.