If you’re like many of us, you’re feeling a certain amount of anxiety at the moment. Maybe you keep reading the various news channels trying to decipher which COVID-19 scenario will be most likely. You’re worried about your family, your job, your retirement savings, your food supply and your summer vacation plans. There’s so much unknown and COVID-19 is bringing this to the surface for you.
We are designed to be afraid of the unknown. This mechanism keeps us safe. The moment we hear something that could be a threat, our brains quickly begin to try and predict the outcome and decide on the the proactive measures needed to survive. This can be exhausting.
This doesn’t just have to be in the case of a pandemic, like the one we’re in now. This can apply to the stability of our friendships, our work or business, our own mortality, our abundance and romantic relationship. This is just life. The fact of the matter is nobody really knows what’s going to happen exactly and to live in this state of constant anxiety or fear over the unknown creates a life of simply surviving instead of thriving.
What happens, when we’re in this constant state of anxiety or fear, is that our sympathetic nervous system is turned on and is diverting energy from our rest and digest bodily functions to fight or flight. When this happens, we don’t digest foods well or absorb the nutrients we so desperately need to stay healthy. We begin to create biological imbalance that can lead to disease.
Peter Crone, Mind Architect, talks about the fear of the unknown. One question he often asks is “Am I really NOT safe?” Chances are you are perfectly safe at this very moment. Yes, I know there’s a pandemic happening and this is nothing to make light of. However, are you safe at this very moment?
I look around my home and see that I have a roof over my head, I have plenty of food for the week and easy access to more, my family is healthy as am I and it’s sunny out at this very moment which is a huge bonus here in the Pacific Northwest!
So, if it’s true that in this moment you are safe, how do you feel in your body? Even if this is just a momentary respite for you, do you feel a little lighter? Perhaps a bit happier? Do you feel just a bit of relief?
That said, I do know that it can be a challenge to get back to a state of calm when you’re in a state of anxiety.
Here are some practices that have helped me, during a particularly tough last year, and I hope you find these helpful as well.
Prioritizing sleep and relaxation
Refrain from watching or reading anything that increases your anxiety – be it a scary movie, the news or social media – at least 2 hours before bed. Instead, consider picking up a fun book, sip some herbal tea and turn down the lights to ease you into sleep. Be sure to make your bedroom dark and use a sleep mask if you can’t control all of the light penetration. If you use your cell phone as an alarm clock, consider turning it onto airplane mode.
Practicing meditation or visualization
I find both of these practices helpful in reducing stress and becoming more mindful. Meditation can be like a guided visualization or just sitting quietly while focusing on your breath. I find that apps like Headspace are extremely helpful when you’re just starting out. This is a favorite for some of my clients. There are also fabulous visualizations led by my favorite Tapping guy Brad Yates.
Sometimes, just having something to say to jar you out of an anxious feeling can be enough. “This too shall pass”. “I breathe in calm and exhale anxiety”. “I will release what I cannot change”.
Choosing another thought
When you hear yourself going down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts or worries, choose another thought. Choose a thought that’s the next highest level you can reach toward joy. Even just a small step towards a more joyful thought will help.
Doing something that makes you feel grounded
This might be walking outside with your shoes off or gardening or maybe it’s just clearing some clutter. Whatever it is, do a little of that every day if you’re able.
I want to be clear that I’m not dismissing the very real anxiety you may be feeling at the moment and I’m certainly not suggesting you feel something other than what you feel. I’m also not suggesting you quit the precautionary protocols recommended to “flatten the curve”. What I am suggesting is that having an open conversation with yourself and then taking steps to reduce your anxiety of the unknown will help you boost your immune system and create a greater sense of ease in this difficult time.
PS. As a health coach, I do work with my clients to ease their anxiety. If you feel you could use this support at the moment, book a chat with me to see how I can help.