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Light On Anxiety Expert Perspectives: LOA in the News

Stuck at Home? Practical Activities to Tame Anxiety and Depression

By Debra Kissen

We all know that uncertainty is the enemy of anxiety. Add a touch of feeling out of control with limited access to your coping tools and routines, and you may just feel like all your work is going down the drain! At a time when everyone is terrified of the unknowns, or close to panic – How about us, the anxious creatures of the world, show everyone how we can be masters of refocusing on what we actually can control? The tools you worked tirelessly to cultivate are at the ready when we all need them most. Why not use this moment and create a plan to keep us moving forward?  As I speak with my clients about how they are dealing with our current situation, I am amazed by their resilience and creativity, and I would like to share below a list of activities that can help you to create structure in your day.

The first step is thinking about the A.C.E. of well-being – ACHIEVE, CONNECT, ENJOY. Try making a list by separating all activities into these three different columns and set targets for each day.  Bonus points for adding an M. column for MOVEMENT. Don’t wait for motivation to come! The truth is, getting up from the couch after your fifth episode of binge-watching Netflix, in order to start rearranging furniture, will probably feel like a losing battle. Instead, set up a calendar, or phone reminders, so that you are engaging in these activities simply for the sake of being in the present moment, and observing your body and your mind. This situation may very well be an opportunity for us to stop spinning in a world of expectations and tasks, and to start truly noticing ourselves, and the vitality that exists within all of us. I have listed these activities thinking about people of all ages. Enjoy!

  • List movies/TV shows/books/podcast episodes and set up a daily “review club” with friends and family
  •  Work on creating or updating your budget 
  •  Learn a new language (duolingo is fantastic!)
  •  Take a free class online
  •  Amp up your self-care routine, tending to your body with compassion and kindness
  •  Organize videos and photos on your phone 
  •  Keep a journal of your experience during this time
  •  Learn to play an instrument
  •  Bundle up and go for a bike ride
  •  If you have to work from home, create a nice work space that makes you want to be productive. Make sure it is separate from the rest of your living area (even if that means having a little corner in your bedroom)
  •  Follow a recipe, create your own, or ask somebody to teach you to cook something new  (depression buster!)
  •  Take your pet on a walk and notice how they take in the world
  •  Do a family scavenger hunt around the house
  •  Play hide-and-seek throughout the house
  • Make fancy cocktails
  •  Revisit memories that reflect your courage, resilience and creativity 
  •  Make homemade gifts for those you love (another depression buster!)
  •  Write letters to loved ones
  •  Write a letter to your future self (or to your younger self)
  •  Make a business plan (or several!)
  •  Go through your clothes and put outfits together, making sure you take pictures so you can catalog them for the future
  •  Do a science experiment with items you have around the house
  •  Bake a cake
  •  Plan a trip
  •  Create a visual board (pinterest to the rescue!)
  •  Create a play and perform to whoever wants to see it
  •  Have a dance party 
  •  Create some art or affirmation messages that you can hang on the window to lighten up someone’s day
  •  Research and make a list of restaurants you will want to visit after all of this is over
  •  Meditate (apps like Calm, Headspace make it easy to follow!)
  •  Take a nice bubble bath with some relaxing music in the background
  •  Keep your brain busy with sudoku and other logic games
  •  Go through your house and think about items that are no longer interesting to you, you can leave them outside for others to take!
  •  Prepare meals that can be frozen for later
  •  Do some online shopping
  •  Reorganize your fridge or pantry, it its quite pleasant to look at a neat space stocked up with food!
  •  Build a new lego set
  •  Reorganize your furniture
  •  Paint your furniture!
  •  Do some online yoga (look up Yoga with Adriene on Youtube)
  •  Write a novel, a poem, or an autobiography
  •  Create a podcast, Tiktok videos or a youtube channel 
  •  Read for the sake of reading
  •  Setup date nights/ game nights via video chat
  •  Do a homemade face/hair mask 
  •  Exercise your senses: blindfold tasting, touching, smelling or hearing can be highly entertaining 
  •  Look up “housework workout”, there are plenty of ideas on youtube 
  •  Connect with old friends online
  •  Think about topics you are curious about and research them online 
  •  Take online physical activity classes (a lot of places have started offering them for free)
  •  Update your resume 
  •  Go down memory lane; old picture albums or even your social media profile can be great sources
  •  Be creative: embroidery, knitting, painting, drawing, tie-dying, clay work, slime making
  •  Work on your dating app profile
  •  Blast your favorite music and mindfully clean your space
  •  Planting seeds/ tending to plants
  •  Join groups online (there is one for everybody, just think about things you enjoy, traits you share, or areas of curiosity) 

Whatever you do, try to focus on the activity itself and how you experience it, rather than fixating on the purpose or end game. This might be our chance to reconnect with ourselves, let’s use it wisely! 

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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