3 steps to help coping with anxious thoughts in uncertain times
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
With the unpredictable situation in our nowadays world due to the Covid-19 pandemic that affects a lot of areas of our life - partnerships, family, parenting, work, business, hobbies, freedom, and so on, even the people who are not diagnosed with anxiety, can get a bit anxious. Or a lot, like me!
So, I hope this will be a helpful & insightful read from what I've found to be practical & effective!
Let's start from the beginning -- everyone has a different sort of anxiety, so your first step is to get acquainted with your own anxiety (no matter how small or big* it appears). It is recommended to write your thoughts down into a journal, doesn't matter which form - paper or digital, as long as it's possible to add & review. Obviously, the cure to minimize your anxiety will be particular to your own circumstances. So, let's dive in!
1. Introduction: Hello, my name is YourAnxiety!
Remember, in order to influence something you need to understand it, so find a calm moment and describe what exactly happens when you feel anxious. What is your anxiety to you - try to put it in words as if talking to a 3-year old, explaining when does it appear and when it disappears, and how it acts. Is it worse in the mornings or evenings, or weekends? Is there a specific space or a specific person around which you get more anxious? Do you worry more about the future or replay the past? Try to act as a curious spy, casually asking yourself WHAT.WHERE.HOW.WHEN.WHY type of clarifications while sipping martini. And try to start writing down any new situations arising that involve your anxiety to be able better to detect your anxiety's personality and patterns.
Once you understand what your anxiety eats for breakfast, you will clearly see what triggers her! And now the next step is understand better what calms your anxiety, so read on!
2. Your body-mind connection
Of course you've heard about calming your mind by taking care of your body and vice versa - making your body feel better by mastering your mind. My intention is not to explain why here, so you can google and choose the version that suits you best, however, the main conclusion to take away is that your mind and body are connected and affect each other.
First, lets try to calm the mind by trying to find alternative solutions to your worries using pure logic. As you might have noticed, some of your thoughts are especially worrisome, so please write them down, and underneath in the next line write what would happen if that was true, if that would happen. And then what would happen, and then? Till you get to the worst possible scenario. For example, if you worry you will loose your job, next to follow potentially is lack of income, or loss of self-worth, or attitude from society, not being able to pay the rent and ending up living under the bridge (yes, you can exaggerate!) And then write in the next column to each turn of events, what you could possibly do, to minimize the impact of the event or avoid it altogether. Can you start looking for a new job already? Can you ask for rent payments to be postponed due to current situation or move back in with your parents or flat-share with friends? You know it will not be for ever, but as a short term solution? Which of your costs you can cut for now? For living under the bridge, you might consider getting a tent while you can! The main idea is to show your brain, that there are solutions you can find and that your resourcefulness is amazing in any situation you end up! You have solved or avoided all the problems so far, have you not? ;)
Second, the body part.
So, what works best for your body to get your mind calmer? Which exercise can you start NOW? Depending on your country's regulations, you might still get out for a walk or a run. Or there are numerous free or paid online options for t.ex. indoor yoga and other workouts. (By the way, dancing in the kitchen also counts!) How many different meditations have you tried, and which ones you really liked? Where can you find more of those? Have you tried deep breathing techniques? Self-massage? Hot/cold bath or shower? How about your nutrition? Do you drink too much coffee or too little water? Alcohol? Do you have any allergies? Sleeping good? What is possible for you to change now in your daily practices and routines? Even a small thing is SOMETHING. Take the smallest possible step now and then the next. They say if you improve 1% each day you'll become 37 times better by the end of the year (try calculating it with numbers, t.ex. 100$ - great distraction but adds up!). And we people tend to overestimate what we can do in one day, yet underestimate what we can accomplish in a month. So, please write down a list of ideas what you could do and start implementing one or two each day, choice depending on your current days mood & energy level. But please-please-please promise, that you won't beat yourself up with the imaginary stick in case you don't follow thru one day - the idea is to increase your well-being by doing what makes you feel better, so be kind to yourself at all times! And keep on doing small steps from where you are now.
3. Your support system
It is hard to do it alone. We need people to encourage and inspire us. And to keep us accountable. So, find the people who can and want to support you, but also come to an agreement with the people who still matter in your life, yet don't seem to "get it" on how to support you. Honest communication kindly looking for deeper reasons usually unveils some issues that make them act the way they do around you being anxious. And deeper understanding of one another usually brings out more empathy.
Furthermore, check out the technologies that can support you - there are gratitude/meditation/exercise apps, online courses, webinars, FB groups and so much more, just choose which works for you and try! Or ask the people around you for suggestions - you'll be surprised how many of us have useful tips & tools to calm our stress or anxiety.
And it would be unfair if I did not mention coaching as one of those tools. So, if you are interested in a 10-session private 1-on-1 program to cope with anxiety, contact me! Or better yet, schedule a free 30-min introduction call by clicking here!
*please ask your primary care doctor for referral if you suspect you have heavy anxiety disorder or are severely depressed or suicidal. Please start by seeking help, and if you cannot reach your doc, here is the list of call lines worldwide!