I don’t know about you, but my anxiety is growing. I’ve always been pretty laid back, thoughtful. But now… it’s hard not to be anxious when, every day, we are faced with a nervous population, worldwide. So many problems are thrown in our faces – fear is spreading. CoronaVirus/Global Warming. We see the reminder either in face masks or crazy weather patterns. (In our area, What Winter?) Part of me feels Enough! I’m sick of hearing about these all day/every day. So, why am I putting my arms up in defense of hearing about these issues when they are so important to our future? Well, I think a lot of us are reacting the same way. Why? Because it’s scary to think about it. It’s easier not to face it, and go about our daily lives, unchanged, all the while harboring anxiety. And what’s more – one of these issues is controllable, yet the other is out of our control; and both are equally alarming.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to situations that make us uncomfortable. It’s when they begin to take over our everyday life, they become a problem. So now what? How do we handle this newfound anxiety?
First let’s define anxieties. There’s the type of hand-wringing, helpless anxiety that was quite common with our grandmothers. You might be agonizing over something and feeling stuck and stagnant because of it. Are you letting it run your life?
Another type of anxiety is the “I must fix this, or else…” kind. The problem-solver.
Now these 2 types of anxiety have one common denominator. Both leave you out of control. And your reactions are a way for you to have power over your anxiety.
Let’s talk control. So maybe your main anxiety surrounds the thought, “I’m terrified of dying from the coronavirus.” Here’s where rationalizing comes in. You are creating unnecessary and negative energy by agonizing over an issue of which you have limited control. This situation is far beyond one person’s solution. Here is where you can shift your thinking away from irrational thoughts, and focus on the realistic facts.
You can take personal action, without a guarantee, but at least you might feel you’re doing your part to help. For instance, I’m embarrassed to admit, I really never made it a habit to wash my hands before eating, or coming from outside, or shaking someone’s hand. I didn’t really think about it until now. We all know people who hold the title of Germaphobe. And you know what? They’re the smart ones. So it’s time to take off that derogatory suffix so they can wash their hands to their heart’s content.
Here are a few ideas you can try when you’re having anxiety.
1. What are things you can control? Write a list of things that make you anxious and think about which ones where you have the power.
Here’s an example: I have a pretty high standard of cleanliness and clutter and I get anxious when I see our shower getting a little grimier than I would like. So what happens is as weeks go by, it only gets more gross, and I start to feel pressured and overwhelmed by my lack of ambition to get it clean. I’m so busy, I have many more priorities than cleaning the shower, and cleaning it is a huge and time-consuming task. But… I can control this anxiety. How? Just do it. Change my priorities and clean the damn shower.
2. Think of your anxiety and think about what you’re afraid of happening. Determine whether you’re agonizing, or problem-solving. What’s the worst-case scenario? What’s the best-case scenario?
3. Lastly, think about a time when you were anxious. What steps did you take to resolve it, and what were you feeling before and after?
Now’s the time to practice taking control over your anxieties before they take control over you.