Feeling Anxious During Our Pandemic?
I hear a lot of fear, anxiety, boredom, and hopelessness during this difficult time of isolation. We as human beings are social, and social distancing can cause anxiety even in the best of us. So how do we deal with this and not be paranoid or go crazy with our “new normal” for the next few months? One reason for anxiety and paranoia is when we think we are alone in this and there is no hope. Another factor is fear.
Here are some things my clients have been sharing with me:
What if this happens to me? Then what?
I have never seen anything like this before!
I am going to have severe money problems! I won’t be able to pay my mortgage.
I have children and what if I can’t care for them?
I’m bored! I have no mental stimulation and it’s driving me crazy!
I’m starting to give up on humanity.
I can’t watch the news anymore. It’s too depressing.
What if I can’t get groceries?
The stores are running out of things!
I am scared!
We all can relate to these fears and comments. It is a scary time but we don’t have to be filled with fear and anxiety. Here are a few tips to combat your trepidation.
1.We will get through this. Our ancestors had their share of adversity and they got through it too.
In 1889- 1890 the world had a flu pandemic. The virus spread rapidly throughout St. Petersburg before it quickly made its way throughout Europe and the rest of the world, despite the fact that air travel didn’t exist yet.
In 1916, we had an American polio epidemic. By 1954 a vaccine became available and polio cases drastically declined. By 1979 there were no new reports of polio in the United States.
The list goes on from the Avian Flu, AIDS, Swine Flu, Ebola, and the Zika virus. We got through all of these epidemics and we will get through this too.
2.We are in this together.
We are not alone in this. Japan sent several cases of relief supplies to China. On the outside of the carton they wrote this message: “Even though we live at different places, we live under the same sky.”
We are working with doctors, hospitals, biochemists, and researchers across the globe to understand this virus and come up with solutions to stop the spread and eventually eradicate it from our society. The good news is that we have been studying the corona virus for 10 years. This new virus, COVID-19, is a new strain of the corona virus and researchers are working around the clock to stop the spread and find a vaccine.
We are all sheltered-in-place to stop the spread of a virus. That is our common goal. If we can work together and keep our focus on the outcome we can do this! This means supporting each other when we get tired or run out of ideas to keep motivated.
3.How to resolve your fear and get through this?
Our fears stem from a loss of control over our daily lives. Fear comes from uncertainty, the unknown, and a feeling of helplessness. To combat this, confront your fear, really face what it is that scares you. Then accept it. Don’t fight the feeling of fear, just accept it and work through it.
You can work through fear by gaining control of your daily life. Even though we are all restricted, we ALWAYS have control of our thoughts, actions and feelings. So choose activities and make them part of your daily schedule that you can adhere to. I empathize the word choose, because it gives your power back. You choose the activities you want to do each day.
Here are some ideas:
* Talk a walk outside.
* Read a book.
* Call your family and friends daily. Daily support and communication is great to create normalcy.
* Play with your pets.
* Meditate to relieve your stress and gain inner balance.
* Watch movies.
* Play video games.
* Read and/or write poetry.
* If you ever wanted to write a book, this is a good time to start it.
* Puzzles are a great activity for a family.
* Use your creativity and invent a new game for the family.
* Have the kids draw pictures in the driveway with colored chalk.
* Write down 5 things you are grateful for and recite them every day.
* Write down your thoughts and chatter. This is a good exercise that gets the stress out of your body.
* Go on social media to listen to pod casts, join in on streaming videos pertaining to interesting topics. Make sure they are are positive and not fear based.
* Allow your ideas to originate from a place of love, not fear.
* Listen to music and sing/dance.
* Write thank you letters to your letter carriers, pharmacists, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, UPS and Fed Ex drivers.
* Get artistic. Learn to paint or draw. Explore your artistic side.
* Believe in your faith.
* Visualize. This is a great tool to keep your mind in a positive state. Visualize a positive outcome and see how close you can come to making that a reality.
My grandmother lost 10 of her 12 children in the Armenian genocide. She moved to the United States and started a new life. At 47 years old she was pregnant with my father and withstood all the negative comments in her community. They said she couldn’t possibly be pregnant, it must be a tumor and she should just give up. My grandmother never succumbed to fear or negativity. In 1926 she gave birth to a healthy boy. That boy was my father. Through all the devastation and catastrophes she endured in her life she always found the joy in Life. If she could get through all of her struggles, we can get through a couple of months of social distancing.
This too shall pass.
In every crisis the world comes together to help.
Our ancestors have been through a lot worse than us. We will get through this.
Be kind and help one another.
Don’t be fearful, be triumphant.
Don’t listen to politicians, listen to doctors.
Look for the silver lining that every uncertainty provides.
Keep your faith and spirituality alive.
You can make a difference.
Marla Sloane, Ph.D.
Marla Sloane, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved © 2020