With the Covid-19 virus situation still unfolding, it’s easy to let anxiety slide into panic as you think about the days to come.
Schools reopening or staying online, travel plans on hold indefinitely, people getting lax on best practices (Don’t do that, people. Wear a mask.) – all this stuff can keep your nervous system in a constant state of alarm.
When you’ve lost someone you love, it’s very easy to wonder who – or what – 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 and/or the world to go even more sideways. 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?
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.
Second, 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. It seems dumb, but focusing on something outside your body helps your mind relax. It calls those spooked horses back into the warmth of the stable.
Wear a mask, wash your hands, and follow best public health practices.
And help your nervous system calm down: one moment at a time.
For more on grief and anxiety, and how to help calm your mind, check out my book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK.
Wishing for some company inside your grief? Now, as always, the very best place I know to connect YOU with other grieving folks is inside the Writing Your Grief community. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is always someone there: when you feel invisible inside your grief, these folks see you. When your friends have their own sh*t to deal with and you can’t lean on them, your WYG family is there. I mean it folks, this community is unlike any other place – online or IRL. The September session is open now and we’ve got room for you. Follow this link to join us, and pass it on.