In these times of global unrest and uncertainty, I’m sure we’re all experiencing symptoms of anxiety to one level or another. As a therapist I am not exempt from this experience. At the moment the future is unknown for all of us and I don’t have any answers as to what will happen or how we will get through. What I do know is that uncertainty is one the most difficult experiences for us humans to bear and I want to offer my thoughts on how we can support ourselves right now, to keep our anxiety levels down and stay connected to ourselves and each other in helpful ways.
- Take the right precautions for you and your family. There is a lot of conflicting advice and opinions out there but the bottom line is that this situation is unprecedented, and while everyone has an opinion, no one has all the answers. We all need to make the decisions that feel right to us, based on the current guidelines and advice from credible sources. We do not need to justify our decisions or judge others for theirs.
- Limit exposure to media. Once you have updated yourself and made the right decisions for you, try to limit your media consumption. This includes social media as well as news articles. There is a lot of fear and understandably people want to share their concerns but reading some of these posts and articles, when in an already vulnerable state, can really compound our anxiety. Make sure you only read material from credible sources that is helpful and supportive and take regular breaks from all media.
- Look after yourself. It is important to keep as healthy as possible and support our immune systems as best we can. This can of course mean many different things, but in the most basic terms, eat well, keep moving, drink water, sleep, get plenty of fresh air and try to keep anxiety levels down. Try to stick to healthy routines to create a level of predictability and security around yourself, as an antidote to feelings of not being in control.
- Accept the unknown. I know this is easier said than done, but if my work and own practice has taught me anything, it’s that ignoring or denying our feelings doesn’t help. This includes distracting ourselves with substances, behaviors or even slapping on false positivity or platitudes such as “It will all be fine”. If we can embrace our fear and learn to accept it, we can meet ourselves and others in a more honest and integrated way, which will ultimately feel healthier and more valuable than living in denial or anxiety-driven escape. This can include talking about our feelings with someone who is able and willing to be present with us in our fear.
- Take a break. Once we have ways of processing our feelings, rather than denying them, it’s important to also take deliberate breaks. No one can be fully immersed in their difficult feelings all the time and we need to make time for rest and replenishment. Schedule time for activities you enjoy and aim to do things that feel normal to give yourself a break.
- Connect with yourself and others. If there is any benefit at all to living in this time of threat, it is that it brings life and our values into perspective. If we can muster up the courage to take in the magnitude of life, what it really means to be here and how we actually feel about our loved ones and the world, we can open up to a new sense of connection through our shared humanity. We can acknowledge what is really meaningful and let go of the rest. I am already seeing people in the street smiling more at each other, neighbors reaching out to offer help and families coming together to spend quality time with each other. The recognition that we’re all in this together and the sense of connection and belonging that brings, is the gold we can mine from this situation.
- Shifting from fear to love. When we feel under threat our human instinct is to shut down and go into protective mode. Our nervous system goes into overdrive as we prepare to defend ourselves from the threat ahead. This is a horrible feeling and one that will not serve us now. A way of breaking out of this state is to shift our attention to “how can I help?” This empowers us to think about what we can do and opens us up to connection and co-regulation with other people.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. In order to help with all the above we will need to support ourselves from within. Different types of mindfulness, meditation and inner practice can be helpful at different times, including grounding, breathing techniques, mindful compassionate presence, inner inquiry and journaling to strengthen our faith.
How I will help:
I am committed to being of service during this difficult time and whilst keeping myself updated on the latest guidelines, I am also in conversation with other professionals in my field about how best to offer support. I will continue to see clients in person for as long as it is safe to do so (increasing hygiene measures to reduce risks) and offer sessions via video call to those who aren’t able to attend in person.
I will continue to share my thoughts and advice online and will be offering free guided mindfulness sessions in my free Facebook community group. This is completely free and open to all, so please come join and take part in as many sessions as you would like (you can also watch previous guided practices on replay any time).
If you would like more tools to coping with anxiety, you can access my online resource Coping with Anxiety – a Holistic Toolkit to bring back Calm here.
You can also download my free guided meditation – Finding Your Inner Peace HERE.
If you would like to book a session for individual therapy, please contact me.