How to Deal with Anxiety in Uncertain Times
Almost every client over the past few weeks has come into my office discussing the Coronavirus. Whether it be due to the fear of contracting and spreading the virus or the financial ramifications, anxiety has been significantly felt. Most clients come in asking for some direction or way of managing their anxiety.
The first direction that makes sense is discussing what is your anxiety trying to do. Emotions serve a function and anxiety’s function is to heighten awareness to determine if fight or flight is needed. In a time where the threat is known, and society is asked to stay still it leaves a lingering anxiety tormenting us trying to get us to create movement that can return us to safety. Fortunately, we have knowledge about how our minds work so that we can create a sense of fulfilling anxiety’s function. In order to do this, we have to use our creativity and imagination.
Let’s break this up into the two areas that have been most concerning: contracting and spreading the virus, and financial ramifications.
Regarding contracting and spreading the virus we know that anxiety decreases our immune response. In order to best protect ourselves and make life more enjoyable in stressful times decreasing anxiety makes sense. In order to do this, we have to imagine a situation that requires “no movement”. Essentially, send your mind a message that “there’s nothing to be done” and our emotional mind will respond with giving us freedom to just be. One example of this would be acting healthy now by washing your hands today and then imagining a future version of yourself appreciating completing the thing you were in control of that would help you have a healthy future. Another example would be thinking of being relieved having survived contracting the virus. Focusing on being in control of the things we have control over in this technique permits our anxious energy to be used and relieved.
On the other hand, financial ramifications appear to be a worldwide impact regardless of any movement we may take to protect us. The most helpful thought may be thinking what we have control over. As of now, our future is a huge question mark so what will be the best way of soothing? Might it be thinking we are united as a world going through this? Maybe. Might it be pinching pennies and taking a conservative spending approach? Maybe. Both of these options do give us some ability to deal with our anxiety. However, I think a more practical approach would be best for our anxiety. Rather than thinking how impacted we are going to be, maybe thinking how we are going to eventually respond to the currently unknown to us reality is a soothing option. We have limited ability to fix the fall, but we have a tremendous ability to research how to recover from a recession. Future focus of successful decisions is what can impact our anxiety about current circumstances that are out of our control.
I anticipate that each person reading this blog would have different examples that would be personally helpful to them, but I hope that each of the examples illustrate the concepts well enough to decrease or eliminate your anxiety.