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Most people experience some form of anxiety. In fact, humans are biologically prewired for anxiety. Quick biology lesson: when we were animals on the savannah, we needed some way to recognize threats to our physical world. Hence the fight or flight response. The bunny who comes across a bear in the forest will make a quick assessment of the situation and hop away. She isn’t dumb!  As we have evolved as humans our brains do not differentiate between physical and psychological stressors. In other words, our body has the same reaction to an oncoming car as it might to an upcoming deadline at work. 

Regardless of where you usually fall on the worry spectrum, it is impossible to not feel some sort of anxiety with the pandemic we are living through. Our daily lives have been turned upside down and the uncertainty is causing chaos and stress. While it is probably unlikely to completely eliminate the anxiety there are some daily strategies we could all be using to better manage whatever is ahead of us:


Sleep is probably the simplest way to help manage anxiety. When we don’t get enough sleep our defenses are down and our resources are limited, making it really difficult to fend off stressors. Aim for a regular sleep schedule- going to bed and waking at roughly the same time each night and aim for 8 hours. This is especially important now that many of us are not on a regular schedule. Engage in a good sleep hygiene routine; do something relaxing before bed and GET OFF OF YOUR PHONE before bedtime.  I am fully aware that you NEED your phone right next to your bed so you can hear the alarm in the morning. Invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock and turn your phone off at night. For those who have trouble falling asleep here are some remedies that KG recommends, Natural Sleep Remedies


I cannot stress this enough. Exercise (in my opinion) is probably the most important habit that can mitigate our stress response. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day and choose something that you enjoy doing. It does not matter how many inches it will lift your bum or how many calories you are burning. Just do something! There is unlimited content online so don’t use the spin studios closure as an excuse. Bonus points if you get some fresh air while doing your daily workout.

Some of the workouts that the GLW team is doing are @vanessacostanzo @jonchaimberg @melissawoodhealth @gabigarbarino as well as walking outside! 

Keep Things in Perspective

No doubt, we are living with a scary situation and we need to be informed, but obsessively refreshing the news is not helping to reduce your anxiety. Get the basics and then move on. Take a break from reading the news and focus on the things that are positive in your life and things you have control over.

Take a TIME OUT and Do Something You Enjoy

 Sounds simple right? Think about your daily routine? How much time do you actually spend doing something you enjoy doing? We are so programmed in our modern lives that often taking this time has been forgotten. Now we have the time! Take a walk, soak in a bath, watch a tv show, talk to a friend or a family member, paint. Doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you ENJOY it.


You don’t need to be a hard core guru to meditate. There are lots of great apps out there that can teach you. Start with a minute. Clear your mind. Focus on yourself. Learn about deep belly breathing and use it. It can be a game changer.

Do Something

Human beings like to feel productive. As many of us are not working right now it is especially important to

find activities that give you a sense of accomplishment; do your laundry, colour code your closet, sort through all of your old documents. Start something and finish it, you will feel good.

Stay Connected

While we are experiencing this very strange time of social distancing, please remember that it does not have to mean that we are isolated socially. FaceTime your friends and family, phone old high school friends, join an online forum.

It may take practice and repetition to find the anxiety relieving strategies that work for you. Be kind to yourself, remember that anxiety is hard wired, and recognize that we are living through an unprecedented reality but that we will all get through this.


This article was contributed by: Mara Riff, PhD. Clinical psychologist, co-founder and director of Openspace Clinic.

As a clinical psychologist, Mara has been a member of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec since 2003 and a credentialed member of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists since 2015. In private practice in Montreal since 2003, she currently works with adolescents and adults, treating both individuals and couples.

​Mara’s clinical focus includes eating disorders, bereavement,  and general insight-oriented therapy. She has a special interest in gender care, including LGBTQ+ issues and gender and identity issues. She offers a warm, supportive, and directive approach to help her clients meet their goals.


Feature image via Pinterest

Mara Riff, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the co-founder and director of openspace clinic, a multidisciplinary wellness center in Montreal. 

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