It’s no question that this unanticipated time has brought about significant anxiety for the majority of us. Between the health concerns that come along with COVID-19 and the added stress resulting from caring for family members, working from home, being stuck in quarantine and so on, we all have a lot on our plates.
Luckily, there are myriad silver linings that this circumstance has brought about – the ability to slow down, reconnect with loved ones and reevaluate what’s really important, just to name a few. But that’s not to say we aren’t still in need of a helping hand in order to navigate this “new normal” with grace and gratitude.
To gain a better understanding of how to combat these anxious feelings, I turned to my friend Angela, the founder of Chill Chief, an online community built to spread awareness and inspire lifestyle shifts within those who suffer from anxiety. She is a mental health advocate, wellness writer, science enthusiast and anxiety veteran who is passionate about sharing the benefits of natural, holistic approaches to health and wellness.
Check out our Q & A conversation below with tangible tips for re-grounding yourself and nurturing both your mental and physical health during these trying times.
Q: What inspired you to start Chill Chief? What’s the mission behind your site?
“I have lived with anxiety my whole life. From panic attacks to obsessive thoughts, anxiety has sat shotgun for most of my experiences. I understand how hard it is to live with a worried and negative voice in your head. I understand what it feels like to think you are going insane and to be too ashamed to share it with others.
Suffering from an internal battle is exhausting and can be lonely. It doesn’t have to be! I wanted others who also struggle with mental health to feel seen – which is why Chill Chief creates a place to raise awareness for mental health struggles.
While I was stuck in my head, my anxiety was starting to affect important relationships in my life. I needed to make a change. I set out to learn and try as many natural healing methods as possible. As a Human Biology major, I love science. I don’t only want to know something works but I want to know why. I am a research nut who loves to dig for evidence – and share it.
Chill Chief became a place to share my story, connect with others and allow others to learn how they could also manage symptoms of their own anxiety.
If readers want to learn more about Chill Chief they can visit my about page here.”
Q: What activities or tools are you using to combat the extra stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I’ve lived with high levels of anxiety since I was a small child, so most of the activities or tools that I utilize to combat COVID-19 stress are ones that have been ingrained in my routine for years. Although my anxiety has found new worries, like standing close to others in public or worrying about germs on packages, the overall level hasn’t shifted much.
What I have realized through this experience is that others who don’t typically experience high levels of anxiety haven’t been exposed to tools that help.
When experiencing extra levels of stress or anxiety, I would suggest focusing on two main areas.
Simply put, eating healthy and moving the body. Eating nutritious foods helps fuel our brain with the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. The top 3 nutrients I like to highlight for anxiety and brain function are vitamin D, Magnesium, vitamin D3 and B-complex. (1) Supplementation can also be helpful if you aren’t getting enough of these through your diet.
I actually supplement with all of these, as well as ashwagandha for cortisol levels and stress. Second, would be moving the body, which could include at-home-workouts, yoga or cycling. Any movement that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes or more. Moving the body helps increase feel-good brain chemicals, lower reactivity to stress, and improve sensitivity to anxiety. (2) Leading a physically healthy life also helps make the brain less “sticky” which means anxious thoughts are less likely to get stuck and become repetitive areas for worry.
While physical health aids in brain functionality, adding specific mental exercises is the best way to build a healthy relationship to intense thoughts and feelings – such as stress and anxiety. To build healthy mental processes I would recommend exploring mindfulness meditation, and practicing gratitude journaling.
Mindfulness meditation can help build an accepting and nonjudgemental attitude towards anxiety and stress, which can positively impact how these emotions effect us. (3) Gratitude journaling 2 times a week is a great way remind ourselves of the good in our lives and it ‘increases positive affect, subjective happiness, and life satisfaction.’ (4)”
Q: Any tips for staying calm and grounded while quarantining?
“Add self love activities throughout your day as simple as doing your nails, keeping your space clean, getting your favorite snack at the grocery story, painting outside or taking your favorite virtual yoga class. Make time for you.
And when things get tough, allow yourself to feel anything you are feeling. You don’t need to become consumed or weighed down by these feelings to allow yourself to feel everything and anything that comes up. Allowing yourself to feel is a healthy way to validate some of the intensity of our current experiences.
Sharing your experiences with others may also help. Just because we are physically distance does not mean we need to be emotionally distant. FaceTime with friends, do virtual happy hour with coworkers and Zoom calls with family! Socially engaging with others helps us feel better and more connected when we are stresses.
If you can, get outside! Fresh air and sunshine go a long way when it comes to mental health.”
Q: If there’s one piece of advice you could give to anyone feeling particularly anxious during this time, what would it be?
“It’s okay to feel anxious, your feelings are not dangerous and you are not alone. Anxiety often hides in urgent messages, all consuming questions with no answer and uncomfortable sensations.
All these symptoms can lead to a terrifying feeling of danger. When we realize that anxiety is just a feeling and thoughts are just thoughts – it takes away the power of anxiety. It also helps when we know that we aren’t alone in feeling these scary feelings.”
Q: Where can people find you to learn more?
People can find me on instagram @chillchief, at my website at www.chillchief.com and can email me at angela@chillchief. I also send out a weekly newsletter with tips all about natural wellness practices to overcome anxiety, if people are interested in joining they can sign up here.