Kate King can’t seem to make herself relax. Coronavirus is always on her mind.
“Anxiety is a natural response to the situation we are in,” she said. “I have low-level anxiety all the time.”
Most of the time, she can manage. But sometimes the stress can feel overwhelming, she said. “You can have waves of it—watching news coverage, thinking about your health and other people,” she said.
Kate is far from alone.
A poll by American Psychiatric Association found that 48% of Americans are anxious about the possibility of getting coronavirus. Forty percent said they worried about becoming seriously ill or dying from it. More than a third (36%) said coronavirus is having a serious effect on their mental health.
Many are turning to the bottle…the pill bottle.
The number of prescriptions for antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and insomnia meds spiked by 21% during the first month of the pandemic.
The problem is that the drugs most often prescribed for anxiety, benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium, are extremely addictive. A person can become physically dependent on them in just a matter of days. Some drug counselors say they are more difficult to quit than heroin.
Kate has found safer methods to stop anxiety from overwhelming her:
- Going “out” for coffee. Before the pandemic, Kate loved going to a coffee shop with friends. Now that she can’t do that, she’s has virtual coffee outings. “I can’t go out for out coffee, so I sit down with people online, or my daughters, and have a coffee every morning,” she said.
- Staying “in the moment.” Instead of worrying about the future, Kate tries to focus on what she’s doing at the moment. “I try to enjoy what I do minute to minute,” she said, even if it’s something as mundane as doing laundry.
- Music. She finds that listening to music makes her feel better. During the quarantine she has even started playing an old accordion she had in her home. “It works for me,” she said.
4 Science-Backed Strategies to Beat Pandemic Stress
Don’t fall into the trap of using anti-anxiety drugs to cope with pandemic stress. The first-line mainstream anxiety medications, benzodiazepines, are shockingly easy to become addicted to. One study found that 44% of people who use these drugs, commonly called benzos, eventually become dependent.
Here are proven stress-reducing solutions that are effective and safer than addictive drugs:
1.) Two calming nutrients: Researchers at the University of Georgia found that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements have potent anti-anxiety effects. And they have few—if any—side effects. For the study, 59 participants took either a daily placebo or a combination lutein/zeaxanthin supplement.
The researchers found that the supplement significantly lowered feelings of stress. It also reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers said they consider the results “groundbreaking.”
Both nutrients can be found in deeply colored foods. Lutein sources include leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach. Zeaxanthin sources include yellow-orange vegetables, such as orange peppers. Foods that contain both nutrients include egg yolks and corn.
The most reliable way to get lutein and zeaxanthin is through supplements. They are widely available online and at health food stores.
2.) CBD: A study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology split people suffering from anxiety disorder into two groups. One took daily cannabidiol (CBD) supplements. The other took a placebo.
Almost immediately after the subjects took CBD, they reported feeling calmer. Scans showed they has less activity in areas of the brain that produce stress.
A 2015 analysis in the Neurotherapeutics reviewed 121 studies on CBD. It concluded: “Evidence from human studies strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders.”
It’s important that you buy CBD from a source you trust. Some CBD products have been found to contain unlabeled THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that makes you high.
3.) Stay active: You’ve heard it before because it’s true… Exercise is one of the best remedies for stress.
Studies consistently find that people report feeling calmer after 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Their level of the stress hormone cortisol goes down. They become more mentally focused. And they sleep better.
Resistance exercise may also reduce stress, but the evidence is not as strong. However, mind-body types of exercise such as yoga and tai chi are consistently found to be effective in fighting anxiety.
A study published in the journal PLOS One looked at the Hong Kong flu outbreak of 1998. It found that people who did little or no exercise had a high risk of dying. Those who worked out between 20 and 40 minutes three times a week had the lowest death risk.
During the pandemic, take time at least every other day to do an aerobic activity. It can be anything that gets your heart rate up.
4.) Calm your mind. Mindfulness meditation became popular following a 2017 placebo-controlled clinical study that showed it sharply reduced anxiety.
Research at Georgetown University tested it in 89 patients diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The subjects were split into two groups. One took an eight-week mindfulness course. The other group took a stress-management course that did not include meditation.
After the course, the subjects were asked to give a public speech, which is a stressful activity. The researchers found that people who had been meditating were able to remain calm during their speeches. The non-meditators, however, reported strong feelings of anxiety.
For a step-by-step guide to mindfulness meditation, go HERE.
Taking these simple steps not only makes you feel calmer. They can improve your overall health so that your body is better able to fight off contagious illnesses.
Editor’s Note: Discover the simple ancient health practice that researchers believe may offer a “ray of hope” in the fight against COVID-19. It takes just minutes a day.
Find out why one doctor is doing it himself and is recommending it to all his patients. Get all the details in the October issue of Independent Healing. To get your copy, go HERE.