Anxiety in the time of coronavirus
If you already struggle with anxiety, you may have found it has increased during this coronavirus crisis. This is a very normal response to the events happening globally and I would like to offer some guidance that may help you during this difficult time.
Many of us have found ourselves asking, "Did no-one see this pandemic coming?". Well, actually some did. Bill Gates held a Ted Talk in 2015, where he proposed that if a pandemic came, no-one was prepared. Virologists and epidemiologists have been warning about it for some time, but it appeared that few listened. It is this perceived lack of preparation around the world that has led to increased feelings of anxiety for many people.
It seems though, that crises, when viewed with hindsight, are typically an impetus for change, and this is a positive aspect we can glean.
It can help to know that human beings as a whole do not like uncertainty. And there has been a lot of uncertainty recently. When the coronavirus took hold, levels of anxiety rose. At times, the anxiety became full-on panic. The more that people were asked not to panic buy, the more they did panic buy and this can result in a self-perpetuating cycle.
So what can you do to help yourself in these anxious times?
Human beings are social creatures, and having to self-isolate feels - and is - unnatural. It can also be very frustrating, when you can’t go to work, or have lost your job or business. We all have a need to strive, not to mention earn a living. Enforced time at home with the family can become less and less attractive as the days pass.
Well firstly, recognise that this time will pass and most of us will come through this difficult period. This is not the plague; we have modern medicine and most people recover. Already developments are progressing on producing a vaccine, and that could happen within a shorter space of time than ever before.
Shining the light of day on anxiety can help you deal with those anxious feelings. If you are not a key worker, then the only option for most of us is to stay at home and self-isolate. Could you use this time to catch up on all those jobs you have been meaning to do for years, but were always too busy to do?
Cognitive activities will help. They won’t change the situation 'out there', but it might make you feel better to have cleaned out messy drawers, maybe do some decorating jobs that have been outstanding for years. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, it could be time to catch up with those outstanding jobs too. It won’t get your job/business back, but you will feel better for having done something productive and any of these activities will help to take your mind off the coronavirus problem.
It’s a strange sort of crisis when there is still alcohol available and Netflix to catch-up with, and of course in many ways, this is what helps us to keep our sense of 'normal'.
Then, of course, there is exercise. We are still allowed (at the time of writing) to go out once a day to exercise. And there are numerous online activities, ranging from weight lifting to yoga. Finding any one of these activities that resonate with you, and then doing it daily, will help. Any exercise promotes the feel-good endorphins that make you feel better. If you don’t already exercise, then you might find that you have now established a new healthy habit of exercise into your life.
Finally, it may help to know that some anxiety in your life is normal. We all have a level of anxiety. Those anxious feelings are instinctive and there to protect you. Anxiety is that sixth sense that prompts you to look again when crossing the road, and realise that the car coming is closer/faster than you realised on first glance, and tells you to wait and cross after it has gone. Anxious feelings should then take a back seat in your life, only coming to the fore when required. If you feel anxiety is your driving feeling however, then it is time to look at finding a new way of dealing with it.
Always remember, you can’t change what is happening, but you can change how you are reacting to it.
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