Pandemic Anxiety - 5 Straightforward Tips to Cope Right Now
This is a scary time.
I'll admit, I didn't think it was going to get this bad.
But here we are. So what do we do?
Anxiety is everywhere right now.
Even people who don't normally have anxiety are becoming anxious.
We need to know how to respond.
We need simple, accessible information. Here's my attempt to provide just that.
5 Tips for Coping With Pandemic Anxiety
What you're feeling is normal
We're going through a crisis situation. There's no rule for how you're supposed to be feeling. Everyone responds differently to a crisis.
Yes, this can be considered traumatic for many. Yes, it can feel like it's all too much. But remember this: it is at the limits of your current capacity that you develop new strengths.
Keep going. Take it a day at a time. Try to notice the ways in which you're changing and growing.
Expect your body to tire faster than it normally would
You know that feeling after your first day on a new job? No matter how excited you may have been for it, you come home exhausted. It's just too much to take in--too many new names to remember, too many new processes to understand at once. That is how it is right now during this coronavirus pandemic. Every day comes with a barrage of new information. It's overwhelming, and it's too much for anybody to handle.
Be kind with yourself during this unprecedented time. It's totally fine if you need to take more time than normal to relax. Your body can only handle so much at once.
Uncertainty can cause anxiety
Uncertainty is one of the primary causes of anxiety. And this pandemic is creating massive amounts of uncertainty. How will the government respond--or not respond? When will I see my friends again? Is my family safe?
These are just some of the questions that are whizzing through the minds of millions of people.
Your goal shouldn't be to come up with the answers to all of these questions. Your goal should be to focus on what you can control, what's right in front of you. That's all you can do. The Stoics new this well. Their entire philosophy is based on controlling one's response, no matter the situation.
You can borrow the Stoics' advice and determine the specific options you have in reaction to the events whirling around you.
You'll have to find new ways to cope
To get through situations you've never encountered, you'll need to act in ways you never have. That's reality.
It's not a time for panic. It's a time for a subtle shift in mindset. When you adopt this new mindset, you'll find you're more prepared than you think.
But you absolutely must relinquish the actions that don't serve you. Make lists of what you've tried to solve your current issues. Cross off what no longer works. Keep what does. And then, after all that, write down new actions that you can take. It's time to find new and better ways to cope.
We're all in this together
Remember this: in times of darkness, the light shines through. We're all finding our way through the shadows right now. We won't always know how our friends and family are faring, but we can be confident that we're in this fight together.
Call it interconnectedness. Call it a form of spirituality. Whatever you call it, know that these are trying times we're all in. All of us. We need each other now more than ever.
Just as you'll need new coping skills, you'll need new ways of being in the world. What does all of this mean to you? What do you feel called to do? How can you serve your fellow men, women and children?
When situations become most dire, that is when humanity shines.
You're part of this resilient humanity. Play your part. Show up however you feel compelled to do so.
We need your contribution now more than ever.