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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