It’s likely if you suffered from anxiety before the pandemic, you are having a hard time at the moment. It’s understandable when the situation is constantly changing and there is so much uncertainty.
Along with the threat to health of your loved ones, it’s understandable that you may be worried about your family, your business or your job. Uncertain of who to trust and unsure of the right actions to take can leave you feeling worried. Decision making can feel tough and many of us struggle when plans change or are cancelled- we like to feel like we are in control. So whats the best way to manage anxiety in times of change?
So important to reframe anxiety and remember that it is a normal response to a threat. It keeps us safe, alert and helps us to act. Anxiety can increase our performance, our responsiveness and our resourcefulness in the first instance. We are built to deal with it for short periods of time.
However, prolonged anxiety and constant worrying about the future can feel overwhelming, causing us stress and panic. It can impact on our ability to respond constructively and put things into perspective. Over time, this can manifest in stress, impacting on us in all different ways. For example, low mood, reduced energy levels, poor sleep, high blood pressure and chronic pain. With this in mind it’s important to get a handle on your anxiety, recognise when it’s debilitating you, and help yourself by developing strategies which support you to manage the anxiety- rather than feeding it.
Here are 4 simple strategies that you can use:
- Be aware. The news, social media etc. is taking you into the future- what if, when…next, you should…. while it’s important to keep yourself up to date, an obsession with the news and media and from conflicting sources can fuel your anxiety. Limit your exposure to the news and social media and go only to trusted resources.
- Be here. When you’ve updated yourself and gained the information you need bring yourself back to the now. Remember the present is the only moment that is real. Observe your breath, feel your feet on the floor, be here now. Grounding yourself in this way will provide you with health benefits, helping you to feel calm and connected to your body whilst improving your ability to cope. Get into the habit of stopping at a certain time each day to practice this technique, everyone can find 1-5 mins per day to do this. There are many great apps which can help you with mindfulness and breathing exercises too.
- Be active however you can. In your garden, out for a walk or a run. So many people use the gym to de-stress. It’s likely that the gyms will close at some point for a set period of time. Don’t panic, you can prepare for this by downloading some home workouts, plan a safe route to walk/ run (including the natural environment if possible) and get into an alternative routine with exercise as soon as possible.
- Be human “What you resist persists” as Carl Jung put it. Rather than avoiding or distracting yourself, facing anxiety in the moment will improve your ability to tolerate and cope with it over time, reducing its power. Notice how you are feeling, describe aloud what’s happening without judgement, accept and be honest about the way things are can enable you to feel more confident about your ability to cope. This will make you more resilient.
Anxiety will negatively impact most of us at some time in our lives. Important to recognize the triggers in the situation you are in and take action to ensure you don’t get into a unresourceful state which can compound the situation further.
In the current Covid19 situation, getting into good habits and cultivating self-management strategies will enable you to stay informed whilst, protecting both your mental and physical health and ability to function and support others through this period of uncertainty. Remember, this too will pass.