If you’re feeling anxious and scared about the virus situation, you’re not alone.
It’s weird and unsettling and escalating a little too fast, isn’t it? Two weeks ago we were making jokes about who had it around the office, but now we’re all practicing ‘social distancing’ and working from home. It’s a bit spooky, and it’s inducing an enormous amount of anxiety. Take me for example—I’ve shit my pants and cried myself to sleep three times today and it’s not even lunchtime. Awful. With that in mind, here are some ways you might reduce your anxiety and have a much chiller pandemic.
Ten Breaths: One of the best ways to calm down quickly is to take ten big breaths. Close your eyes and inhale through your nose, imagining the air traveling down and filling your belly (place a hand there and feel it expand). When you can’t inhale anymore, hold it for a second then exhale through your mouth with a nice, loud Ahhhhh. Ten of those and you’ll feel way better, I promise. Failing that, you could always just breathe into your junk, which I just found out is a thing…
Headspace: I’ve used Headspace on and off for a couple of years, and it really is a great way to calm yourself and your mind. The app features guided meditations to help you sleep, focus, worry less, and even perform better at gross things like sports. There’s a whole library of stuff tailored to pretty much any issue you could have—including anxiety. In my experience, Headspace dissolves anxious feelings super-quick, and you can try it out for free! Download here.
Waking Up: Neuroscientist, philosopher and New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris created this app, and from what I’ve heard it’s brilliant. The blurb at the app store says, ‘Go beyond mere stress reduction to make profound discoveries inside the laboratory of your own mind,’ which sounds pretty good. Sam also offers a full refund if you do the complete course and don’t feel you’ve benefitted in any way. Try out the meditation below, and if you like the sound of Sam’s voice you can download the app here.
Exercise: I know, totally disgusting, but exercise burns up anxiety, releases endorphins and makes you feel pretty good. If you skate—skate. If your surf—go score a table for one in The Green Room. It’s probably not the best time to join a gym and start touching things, but a run or even a brisk walk can and will help you feel better. And besides the short term benefits, exercise will make you physically stronger in the long run, which will make you mentally stronger. It is also free. Plus old mate from Oasis is well into it.
Transcendental Meditation: I just began doing this last week, and I can testify that it’s worth the hefty price tag. Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is a mantra-based technique that a lot of very chill people swear by. I’d been interested in TM for at least a decade but always balked at how expensive it was. But then a couple of weeks ago I read Nick Cave’s thoughts on it and that made me take the plunge. Glad I did. Contact your local TM center to see what their teaching schedule looks like.
Getting to Sleep: As a professional worrier, I know what it’s like to toss and turn all night like a frog in a drier. It sucks. But there are a few things you can do to calm your mind and drift off to sleep. One thing I like to do is read. Reading knocks me out. I have a Kindle I can read with the lights out, and when I inevitably fall asleep after three minutes, it turns itself off. Another good way to fall asleep is to try and remember every second of your day from the moment you woke up; it takes ages and it’s a major snooze. Another technique: counting your breaths down from a hundred: Inhale—one-hundred—exhale—one-hundred. Inhale—ninety-nine—exhale—ninety-nine and so on. Don’t say it out loud, obviously. When you forget what number you’re up to start again. Counting stuff is like boofing a bag of heroin up ya leg.
Be nice: Lastly, be nice. Being nice makes you happy and it’s impossible to be anxious when you’re happy. Be patient, be kind and think kind thoughts. Don’t garrot a stranger with floss because they beat you to the last can of baked beans. When you behave or even think like an asshole you hurt yourself as much as the people you’re focusing your negativity on—so don’t be an asshole. And if you encounter an asshole, don’t be an asshole back. Be nice and maybe they’ll be less of an asshole to the next guy. Jesus, who am I, the Dali Lama? A bunch of assholes just went ‘NO, YOU’RE NOT!’ Relax, assholes. We’re all in the same boat. Om Shanti. Now here’s Eno’s Music for Airports to really chill your tits off.