The number of us suffering with anxiety has been rising year on year since the beginning of the age of tech and social media making us less able to switch off.

Now, the number of people suffering with anxiety, and the severity at which we’re suffering, may have just shot through the roof.

The coronavirus is all anyone is talking about, and all anyone will talk about for the rest of the year and beyond. 2020 will go down in history as the year we experienced unprecedented Covid-19 related fear, overwhelm and anxiety. And right now, we’re living this history.

In ‘normal’ times, the anxiety we suffer generally falls into five different categories:

1) Generalised Anxiety Disorder

2) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

3) Panic Disorder

4) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

5) Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)

But during these times of pandemic worry, most of us will be experiencing generalised anxiety disorder, brought on by a sense of worry over the unknown. Many of us have never had to deal with such unbelievably worrying circumstances involving our jobs, finances, the risk of illness and being separated from loved ones.

Those of us that have suffered previously in this way, are also most at risk now, with the coronavirus making no allowances for poverty, job insecurity, sub-standard and cramped living conditions and pre-existing chronic illness. It just rides roughshod over them all, making things unfathomably worse.

Anxiety can be defined as a persistent pattern of elevated worry and excessive fear, and it can feel unsurmountable to those struggling with it. Especially now, as we’re all facing the added worry of dealing with the big, scary unknowns of when this will all end, how it will end and what will life be like after this.

These ominous questions will be looming over us every day until life goes back to normal, or at least something resembling normal, when face masks and queuing at the supermarket are a distant, but ever real, memory.

This surreal reality is one we must face, whether we want to or not, making us also deal with the daily questions of our very existence. Survivor guilt, the guilt of still having a job, guilt over missing loved ones when neighbours live alone – they’re all very real and anxiety-building too.

We can’t manage these things. We can’t make the best decisions for the country. We must leave that to the politicians and doctors, whatever our political persuasion. We can’t promise our elderly parents when we’ll see them again, or explain to our young nieces and nephews from afar why their birthday party is cancelled.

But the anxiety of it all is something we can manage better, by following some practical measures for living with this constant anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation

Practising mindfulness doesn’t mean completely emptying the mind of all thoughts. Instead, it involves focussing on the breath to bring you into the present. The thoughts that do enter your mind can be acknowledged, labelled and sent on their way.

Being more in tune with the present can eventually help you to train your mind to better deal with anxious thoughts. It’s a grounding process that takes time, but is really worth the commitment. Using an app (there are plenty available) with guided meditations and daily programmes for beginners is really helpful for mastering the technique.

Being committed to yoga practice can also help you to become more at peace with anxious thoughts in the same way as mindfulness practice can. It forces you to concentrate on your breath and each movement, bringing you into the present. There are also lots of yoga apps and online tutorials available.

Use your outside time wisely

Spending time in nature is a wonderful way of helping to calm the mind and manage mild anxiety. As it stands, we can still go outside for exercise at a safe distance from others. Use this time to walk or cycle around your local green areas, urban highways or deserted high streets, and dedicate time to looking around you and really noticing where Mother Nature is still doing her thing.

Weeds growing in cracks, tree roots pushing up pavement stones, tree branches winding around bus shelters and roof tiles – spotting these is a timely reminder that nature still finds a way, in the face of adversity, and that life is still continuing. Perfectly manicured front gardens are also a sight to behold, and will gradually be changing their blooms as the Spring continues.

Try using CBD

We’re real advocates of the use of CBD, and not just because we sell it. Scientific studies are proving that CBD oil can help to reduce self-reported anxiety scores in those with anxiety. Unlike anxiety medications, those in these clinical trials report no side effects, except fatigue in some cases, which can be managed by altering the dose.

The authors of one such study concluded, “In this evaluation, CBD appears to be better tolerated than routine psychiatric medications. Furthermore, CBD displays promise as a tool for reducing anxiety in clinical populations”.

Dealing with anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic

Anxiety can be crippling, and now, perhaps more than ever, we need to recognise and allow our feelings. If you’re suffering with anxiety, Mind, the charity for better mental health has lots of advice and information on what to do if you’re concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on your life and that of your loved ones.

Know that you’re not alone, we truly are all in this together. Stay safe.