With the virus situation changing rapidly, and health concerns affecting everyone everywhere, it’s easy to let anxiety slide into panic. If you’ve lost someone you love, it’s very easy to wonder who you might lose next. It’s easy to feel a surge of chaos and fear. One thought leads to another, leads to another, and before you know it, your brain is preparing for everyone you love to die in the next minute. Brains do that. Run off like spooked horses.
The answer to anxiety is not to tell yourself everything will be fine.
For many of us, we’ve already lived through the unlikely, and we know things don’t always work out fine. Even solid tools like mindfulness practices and breath-work can be counter-effective in calming anxiety, especially if trauma is part of your history.
You cannot just “breathe and know that everything will work itself out.” So what can you do?
First, help yourself not panic:
A lot of panic is about the unknown, and a loss of control. Education and preparation are the most helpful things here.
Second, help yourself get grounded:
Remember that calming your anxiety is not about making sure bad things don’t happen. It’s about making THIS MOMENT, this very moment, have a little ease and space around it. It’s about helping your body and your mind calm down, so that you are able to make informed decisions about what you need to do.Remember that calming your anxiety is not about making sure bad things don’t happen. It’s about making THIS MOMENT, this very moment, have a little ease and space around it. Click To Tweet
Third, experiment with some tools to help your brain:
In acute anxiety (aka: freaking out) try something like this: look around and count all the orange things you see, or, run through the alphabet, coming up with 3 words for each letter (with a free pass for the letter x). Choose mundane and ordinary things to count or name. Focusing on something outside your body helps you mind relax. It calls those spooked horses back into the warmth of the stable.
As Lily Tomlin wrote, “We’re all in this together — by ourselves.” This community knows how to listen without advice or judgment. This community knows how to acknowledge fears, grief, sadness, and love – without trying to pretty it up or change it.
Acknowledging it, acknowledging everything – that’s how we get through. One moment at a time, alone together.
Look for more on tools for anxiety in the next few weeks. We’re working on some resources while we also juggle concern for aging parents, sanitized surfaces, and how long kale will last in the fridge before we’d need to brave the grocery stores again.
How about you? How are you managing your anxiety during this extra stressful and uncertain time?
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Donna Ball says
I have been reading your book, “It’s ok that you’re not ok” for several months. Two years into the loss of my adult son, I still have issues with short term memory. I read, highlight and re-read and am happy to report that I am almost finished. This book validates my ongoing journey. I have stopped caring what others think. I am processing this at my own pace. Life goes on and I am moving along with it, at my own pace. This past week, it dawned on me that one of my sources of sadness, irritation and disappointment come from the BS that is on social media. Because of that, I have stepped back. So far, so good. I will now be in control of what I watch, listen to and read. It is so freeing.
Many people private messaged me their phone number in case I need them. Very kind. I am glad to find your website and plan to join your community. As for the virus, I am not panicked. If it happens to be my time, that means I am reunited with my Adam. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry and want to be with him. God Bless us All and give us strength, courage and wisdom to continue to navigate this life.
I am feeling so hurt and annoyed by people sending me stupid articles about all the wonderful things we can learn from this pandemic. I do not need a virus to slow down and recognize what is important in life, the last two years have already slowed me down to near stand still. I have been confronting all kinds of fears on a daily basis for quite a while now, it’s actually not all it’s cracked up to be. I have learnt more than enough about what I can endure and what I can live without. And no, positive thinking will not make everything all right.
What I am really struggling with is similar to what Emilia is finding difficult. I understand that people want to find the good in the situation, the silver lining to every cloud. But I get so upset and angry when people say things that could to a casual observer almost make it sound like this virus is actually in reality, a good thing. How it’s a good thing that is making us realize our impact on our earth. That it’s teaching people how to feel appreciative of the people around them and their lives. How it’s dismantling capitalism. How it’s clearing up pollution. I even heard someone the other day allude to the fact that mother nature was taking care of business, cleaning up if you will.
I just want to scream this virus WILL kill my immune compromised, heart condition Mother and Brother if they get it. I will lose two more close family members. How dare you allude to this threat to my family as anything other than the monster it is. There is no good here. No silver lining to this cloud. People are dying. I could lose my family. Nothing you could say could make me feel OK with this.