It’s officially been a year since we went into lockdown. The days may be getting longer and brighter but for many people this is not translating into things getting easier and more upbeat. The struggle to stay compassionate, clear headed and convinced is increasingly more challenging.
Anxiety exists any place where we don’t know the outcome. As a rule, us humans prefer certainty to uncertainty. Studies have shown that people would rather get an electric shock right now than wait for the possibility of a shock later. This shows we get more stressed and anxious when waiting for an unpredictable shock (or unpleasant outcome) than an expected one. Where people differ is the degree to which uncertainty bothers them.
A global pandemic is the perfect storm for anxiety to strike. All of us are more than likely experiencing it on some level whether low grade or at a more elevated intensity. It’s worth noting anxiety can show up in different and unexpected ways. I remember being stunned when I learned anxiety and depression can show up as anger and even rage.
It’s always darkest before the dawn has never felt more apt yet with the light at the end of the tunnel still just a flicker how do we manage the increasing overwhelm, anxiety and anger we may be feeling.
Below are four tips for building resilience and dealing with anxiety.
- Name it and tame it
The first way to deal with anxiety is get a pen and paper and write it down. You can write a list, use bullets or free flow. It doesn’t matter what you write or how you write it, just get it out of you onto paper. Keep going till the fog starts to clear and your breath starts to calm. Read it back if you need to but you may not. The process of writing should bring some relief, understanding and insight.
- Now, what can you do about it?
We can ‘t control anxiety, we can’t control Covid, but we can control what we can control.
Have a Plan A, then a Plan B, then a Plan C. Don’t let yourself feel hopeless, you do have options.
- Mind your P’s
When we experience a setback in life it’s easy to think 3 things- its personal, permanent and pervasive. But it’s not.
The challenge you’re facing today is not a personal failing. There will come a time when it ends and most importantly don’t feel like a set-back in one area of your life means your whole life is impacted. Very often a challenge is specific to one part of your life (you know like when your job is going great, but your love life is not or vice versa).
The trick here is to acknowledge negative events but don’t blame yourself, view the situation as a temporary one and absolutely expect further positive events in the future.
- Ask for help
When all the fresh air and walking stops working, when the mediation and zoom calls miss the mark, when you are doing everything right and you still feel wrong, go and get some professional help.
Don’t pause, don’t hesitate, don’t question. Don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel embarrassed, don’t feel disheartened. Just do it. Tell someone you are not ok, and you need help. This too shall pass.
For more information on resources and help available to you in Ireland please visit https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/get-support/