How to empower yourself in a time of anxiety and uncertainty

Wow! What a crazy year it’s been so far, and we’re only 4 months in. 2020: a New Year, a New Decade and a completely new way of life for majority of the world. Last year was a tough one for me, so I was more than happy to see it go, I was overly optimistic for 2020 as it represented a new beginning in so many ways. I can vividly remember myself saying out loud “2020 – you’re going to be my year!” Fast forward 3 months later and I honestly can’t even comprehend all that has happened this year. A friend of mine jokingly said we went from World War 3 to World War Z in 8 weeks and honestly it does feel like we’re living through some crazy sci-fi movie.

As the coronavirus situation intensifies so do our anxieties and stresses. Everywhere you turn there is an article or a news report with the word “Coronavirus”, not to mention all those WhatsApp messages that your mom or your aunt keeps forwarding to you and all the crazy theories being thrown around. It can make you question everything you thought you knew about the world and the future of the world we all live in. Now add the fact that you’re probably going to be stuck in your house for the unforeseeable future. For many of us who are used to living a busy and social life this can be an extremely hard adjustment and can really test us mentally and emotionally and it can be hard to focus our attention on anything other than “Coronavirus”.

However, I personally have adopted a new positive outlook to the whole situation and it has made me appreciate the things that I would usually take for granted. In today’s world, where everything is scheduled, it can be very hard for you to find time for yourself. But this situation has really given us an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. To empower ourselves, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and to become the best versions of ourselves.

I’ve put a list of things that I’ve personally adopted to help me cope with my own personal anxieties and stresses during this time of uncertainty, and through doing them I’ve begun to get to know myself better. I hope that you find at least one of these helpful and that you can take something positive from this post and implement it into your daily life and hopefully get to know yourself better too and feel empowered.

1. Prayer

This had been so instrumental in me keeping my self and sanity in check. Not everyone may be religious but I think taking a few minutes a day to talk to God or the universe or whatever your higher purpose is important for staying grounded. Personally prayer has helped me find direction in my life and feel more purposeful in everything I do. It has also helped me find strength and clarity especially in a time of uncertainty.

2. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to quiet the noise around you and focus on yourself in the present moment. Meditation has also been linked to a number of scientifically proven benefits:

  • Reduces and controls stress and anxiety
  • Boosts self-awareness
  • Enhances gratitude and kindness
  • Encourages positive emotional wellbeing
  • Reduces blood pressure.

And it boosts your immune system according to some research!

And the great thing is that you can literally do it anywhere and at any time. There is a common misconception that meditation involves sitting cross legged on a chair and chanting mantras, although some meditations involve this not all do. There are so many types of meditations out there, that you can definitely find one that suits you. There is even lying down meditations, which can be done when you wake up or when you go to bed. If you’re a beginner to meditation, like me, then I would suggest looking for guided mediations. There are so many on YouTube that you can check out. Here are a few of my favourites. There are also loads of meditation apps that you can download these are a few my favourites Calm and Meditate and #Mindful. If you have kids there are also Kid friendly guided meditations that you can find on YouTube and you can make this a fun exercise that you can do together.

3. Journaling

I’ve been doing this for years! However I was never consistent with it, and my journaling was never structured, I would just scribble a few words on a paper and forget about it. I’ve now developed a really great journaling habit and I keep many different types of journals. There is something about putting pen to paper that helps relive the mind and manage thoughts. If you’re a beginner to journaling then I would suggest starting with something that feels right with you. There is no right or wrong way to journal, so you could just get a book and a pen and start writing. However there are many other ways to Journal.

I personally keep three journals, one for my feelings and thoughts, like a diary. The second is a gratitude journal and the fourth is a goals and habits journal. Journaling is also a way for you to express your worries, fears, anxieties and frustrations without exploding. When you’re done you will feel lighter. If you’d like a more structured way of journaling then there are so many gratitude journals and structured journals that you can get from amazon you can even find ones that lock so you don’t have to worry about anyone reading your deepest thoughts.

Another great way to start journaling is through written mediations, these are short books that have a daily meditations or messages of positivity that you can use to base your journaling off. These are a few of my favourites Self Discovery Journal for Women, Little book of Positivity and Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Colour.

4. Affirmations

This is something that is new to me, but I’ve been building a habit of it lately and it really does make all the difference to my mood and self- perception. I’ve been including this into my daily journaling by writing a page or two of my weekly affirmation. I personally have found phrases to be more effective rather than just one or two words. And I’ve also found sticking to the same phrase every day for a week more effective than changing the phrase daily. This week’s phrase is “I am a mountain, I am strong, I am solid and I am stable”. It is also really effective when you visualise your phrase while saying it. So I would literally visualise myself as a strong, solid, and stable mountain. Finding phrases that strike an emotion within you will definitely be more effective and ones that you can easily visualise.

5. Reading

I LOVE reading! There’s so many books on so many different topics out there. I personally like reading Biographies and Self Improvement books but occasionally I will read a novel, it really depends on my mood. Now is a great time to find a topic that you’re interested in and read about it. There are so many App’s now that are available for you to download that make reading really easy and most of these apps have a large variety of free books. Some of the one’s I like to use are Amazon Kindle which you can download onto any device, Books which is available on iPhone and Libby which is a really great app that allows you to access books from your local library electronically. However this app is for those based in the UK who have a local library card. I’ve linked these apps here. If reading is not really you’re thing then you can try listening to an audio book, and there are a number of great apps that offer audio books.

6. Colouring

I absolutely love colouring, it is one of my favourite things to do. It makes me feel like a child again and just takes my focus off everything else and concentrates it on the page I’m colouring. It’s a really great way to destress and relax. And if you have children this is a great exercise for you to do with them. You’re getting to spend time with them and you’re doing something fun. If you’re not really into colouring then you could draw something. These are great ways to get in tune with your creative side and make art master pieces.

7. Exercising and stretching

Since everyone is pretty much on lock down and all non-essentials are closed then you’re probably not going to make it to the gym any time soon. But don’t panic there are so many great ways that you can exercise at home. There are so many YouTube home workout guides that have popped up on my feed that you can definitely find one that suits you and your environment. There are also a number of apps that you can use. If you’re not really into exercise I would recommend doing some light stretches or yoga just to get the blood flowing and the muscles stretched, as we’re not using our bodies as much since we’re confined to our humble abodes. Another fun way to incorporate exercise is by doing challenges like the squat challenge. You can find loads of examples of such challenges on Pinterest. Here are a few of my favourites. Exercise is a great way to keep your mood up as it releases endorphins. It also keeps us active and is really good for our mental and physical health. You can even incorporate the whole family in your exercise regime. And you don’t have to spend hours doing it; 7 – 15 minutes is good enough and you will feel great after.

8. Music

A great way to get your mood up is by listening to music, and you can even dance along which could be your form of daily exercise. The great thing about music is that it is a multitasking genius. You can listen to music while you’re working from home, while you’re bathing, while doing your house chores. You can listen to music anywhere, anytime, while you’re doing anything! Take some time out and create a number of playlists and start listening to more music.

9. Watch something inspirational!

It is so easy to become the ultimate couch potato while you’re cooped up in the house. Instead of binge watching TV shows, look for a documentary on a topic you’re interested and watch that instead. Or go on to YouTube and look up topics that you’re interested in and watch videos on there. Spend some time learning about something new and you’ll find some inspiration.

10. Learn something new!

Have you ever wanted to learn a new skill, or language? Now is the perfect time to do it! You will literally learn so much about yourself by doing this and develop and improve your exsisting skills. I’ve recently been introduced to two amazing sites/apps that have allowed me to learn more about things I’m interested in. The first one is Udemy, which is an app with thousands of courses both free and paid that you can sign up for and do in your own time. With this app you can also upload a course yourself and others can take it. So if you have any hidden talents or expertise, you can take this time to create your own course. The second app is Coursera, this app offers really great courses in almost every field and once you’ve completed a course you can add a badge to your LinkedIn profile.

11. Have fun!

Since the whole family is stuck in the house, and probably driving each other wild, now is the time to actually have fun as a family. Every night can be games night, and you can use this time to get creative. It’s time to get those dusty board games out that usually only make an appearance around Christmas and start interacting with each other. A great game that I personally love playing is Charades and General Knowledge. And to be honest not a lot of kids have actually played these games in today’s day and age where everything is digitalised. If you’re family isn’t really into games and prefers watching TV during family hour. Instead of binge watching your local news channel why not find a funny movie that everyone can laugh at. It will lighten everyone’s mood and brig joy into the home.

12. Fresh air

Last but definitely not least get some fresh air. If you have a garden then I would really suggest going to sit in there for a little while. If you don’t have a garden then go and stand outside your front door for 5 minutes. Just try to get outside for at least 5 minutes every day. I know in the UK we’re allowed to go out for one daily walk but have to maintain the social distancing guidelines of 2 meters away from other people. If you can definitely go for your daily walk. The weather has been faily decent here in the UK for the last few days and some fresh air and sunshine are the best mood lifters. If you are however self-isolating then please don’t go outside and keep yourself healthy and safe.

The key is consistency; try and implement these practices into your daily routine and challenge your-self to build positive habits that you can implement into your life once everything gets back to normal. I know that majority of people are still working from home and don’t have the whole day available, but most of these practices take a few minutes to do and can be done during the time you would use to commute to and from work. Find what works for you and spend 20-30 minutes a day on working on yourself and you’ll be surprised at what you find!

Although this is a really difficult time for majority of us and we’re just trying to get by mentally, physically and financially, I would like to remind everyone to make the most of the situation and always look for the good in it. Get to know yourself, your family, your husband, your wife, your partner, your kids, your parents and whoever else you’re in quarantine with, find out what you enjoy doing and what they enjoy doing. Get in touch with the people that you care about, send them a text to see how they’re doing. Practice kindness and compassion to those around you and those far away from you. Practice gratitude and be thankful for everything that you do have, which is as simple as good health.

For those that are personally affected by this pandemic or have loved ones that have been or are affected, I send you all my deepest thoughts and prayers and I pray that God seess us through this and brings us together as a world.

I hope this post has been beneficial and I would love to hear if this has helped any one in any way and what others are doing to keep themselves grounded and empowered?

Peace, love, health and happiness to all.

Aliyah Mahomed is the author of the blog The Modest Mind.

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