What seems to be happening is that many people are feeling an increasing level of anxiety.
So, what can we do to cope with feelings of anxiety and, for some, panic?
One thing we can do is to take some control in a situation, in which, we feel many things are beyond our control.
We experience anxiety and panic when we feel fear and uncertainty. However, we can ask “is the fear that some of us are allowing ourselves to feel really justified?” Or, could we be doing things that are heightening a lesser fear?
There is a great deal of uncertainty about how the coming months will look like and what will happen.
There are questions that we don’t know the answers too, such as:
- Will anyone close to me, or will I, contract the virus?
- If so, will we survive?
- Will my business go under?
- Will my important event go ahead as planned?
- Will I lose my job?
- Will I be able to pay my mortgage or rent or feed my family?
…..and many more….
These are certainly big questions with the potential to adversely affect lives.
Living every day with these questions going around in our heads can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress.
So what can we do? Well, amongst the uncertainty there can be a feeling of not having any control and while we can’t control the spread of a virus…. we CAN take some control of NOW, the next 24 hours …..and after that, the next 24 hours and so on, a day at a time and in doing so, we can calm our escalating fears.
Currently many people are choosing to watch many hours of the 24/7 media coverage which is peppered with worse case scenarios being described to us.
Gosh, on this day last year, had anyone woken up and been bombarded with all the worst case scenarios of what could happen to affect them negatively over the next few months and they had listened to that day after day it would most probably caused a long period of high anxiety which would have been detrimental to both mental and physical health and which would probably have been pointless.
We don’t know if our anxious feelings and fears are justified or not, but we do know that these feelings are not beneficial and there are things we can do to help ourselves in a positive way.
- We can wake up each day and choose to assess what fears are justified because they are actually going to happen, or extremely likely to happen on that one day.
Many of our fears are about things that could possibly happen, rather than real ones and right now, for many people, these thoughts are destroying the chance of enjoying that day.
- We can limit our media exposure to a half hour awareness update each day to keep up to date with guidance and information rather than tuning in to the hours and hours of catastrophising that our being broadcast which are heightening and feeding our fear, anxiety and distress.
- We can adapt to our changes in circumstance and look for the positives and good opportunities we may be able to take, as a result.
Perhaps working from home may give us an opportunity to do some different enjoyable things we may not usually have time to engage in, such as: reading, getting fresh air, sorting the garden or some neglected D.I.Y, spending more time with our children or some home baking. You could decide each morning to do some pleasurable things during that day.
- We can help other people and experience the rewarding feeling gained from helping others. Some people, particularly older people or those who do not have good physical health may feel more vulnerable and really appreciate knowing that neighbours and friends will help and support them if they are needed. If we are aware that a colleague or friend has an anxiety disorder or depression , we could make efforts to keep in touch if working remotely.
- We can also look after ourselves physically and mentally by getting good sleep, eating as healthily as possible, taking exercise and connecting with people, especially by picking up the phone.
In summary, we can choose to feed our fear, or we can choose to see ways of enjoying our day as much as possible and helping those around us to do the same. Both options use our energy but one has the outcome of raising our stress, which is damaging to both our physical and mental health and the second calms our stress by giving us some control over the day and also results in the release of feel good chemicals which protect our mental and physical health.
Instead of seeing the negatives of what we can’t do, we can look for the positives and enjoyable things we can do. It does take discipline to choose to fill our heads with positive thoughts but the results are definitely worth the effort.