Feeling anxious in these strange times?
We are often fearful; it’s a very common emotion. Whether it’s creeping unease, daily anxiety or deep terror – fear is elemental. We can’t do without it completely for sometimes it protects us and helps us survive.
But amidst the Covid chaos it’s easy for anxiety to become overwhelming.
Anxiety often centres around uncertainly, our fear of the future. And in times likes now, with Covid chaos around us, anxiety can hit even the calmest amongst us.
What if I catch Covid? Will I get very ill? Will my family get sick? How will I keep working? How long will I be isolated? When will I next see the “high-risk category” people in my life?
Anxiety may be familiar to you. If you often feel anxious, the Covid situation is likely fuelling it. Some of our most powerful fears are the deep hidden ones, the ones we don’t even know are lurking, like fear of being alone or fear of depending on others, and if these have become a habit, something like Covid can make it harder to cope – but it’s certainly possible.
All fears are of course totally normal. Anxiety is something we all have to go through at some point. But the Covid virus doesn’t help.
If we don’t acknowledge and begin to do something to address our ongoing anxiety it’s bad for our mental and physical health, and ultimately can downward spiral to depression and victimhood:
Take a look at this film, Ten Meter Tower, capturing fear in various guises – it’s hilarious. And moving, fascinating, and inspiring. Here’s what’s great about it: in all its real, human, empathic jubilance it proves to us that fear can be conquered.
In this film, the fear is of the height, of jumping. Sometimes it’s not so obvious to us what we’re really scared of. But it’s important to try to identify our fears as once we’ve acknowledged what it is that we’re really anxious about, and say it out loud — then often we find it’s power lessening, and we have more control over it and choice in how to deal with it.
“When we voice our fear, its power lessens”
Whatever our method, Ten Meter Tower shows how time and time again in all their different ways, humans conquer their fears.
Like in this film, conquering our fear involves some kind of first step – a small first step that forms a leap of spirit, of bravery, that proves to ourselves that we can do it, that we are and will be OK — and the first step is simply acknowledging and speaking about our fear first.
That’s half the battle won.
A well-known coping technique that can be useful in the immediate short-term is “Apple”:
ACKNOWLEDGE – Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
PAUSE – Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Just pause, and breathe.
PULL BACK – Tell yourself this is just the anxiety or depression talking, and this thought or feeling is ONLY A THOUGHT OR FEELING. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements of fact.
LET GO – Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
EXPLORE the present moment – because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing, and the sensations of breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then, shift your attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
In the slightly longer term and for recurrent anxiety, here are our 7 steps to getting closer to calm:
Find your therapist
These are uncertain times, and uncertainty is uncomfortable. But there is support out there and you have calm inside you; together we will get through this.
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