Here are a few ways of working with anxiety:
- We can reflect that life is full of things that can make us anxious. Even before this current crisis most of us were coping with worries about work, money, health, family ..... a very long list. Things are more intense right now but we can still focus on making ourselves as contented as we can. Focusing on our anxiety will only increase it.
- Our mind has a built-in negativity bias making us think of and remember negative events better than positive ones. From an evolutionary perspective, this was important so that we would remember not to eat certain foods that made us ill a second time, for example. But this also means that we notice and remember negative
news over positive events.
Knowing this, when you feel anxious try to make a conscious effort to overcome the negativity bias. This might mean changing your perspective, and trying to remind yourself of the many
positive things that have happened because of coronavirus – such as examples of kindness, or reductions in pollution. Research shows that increased hope strongly predicts decreases in anxiety.
- We might find that the answer to helping ourselves feeling anxious is already available to us. Instead of watching the news all the time, and talking about the challenges of the situation, we can look into our own minds and hearts to find some peace.
- Meditation is a great way to do this. Taking a few moments here and there throughout the day to relax your mind and allow it to calm down will help a lot to reduce your anxiety.
- Meditation can also allow us the space to take a step back and do a 'self-check.' We know ourselves quite well—what our strengths are, where we can get stuck. Try to spend some time each day checking in with yourself to discover how you are and what you need for your wellbeing.
- Pay attention to the present moment. Our anxiety is often based on wondering what will happen next. If we can train ourselves to simply be mindful of what we are doing in each moment it will help us to be more calm. So while you are eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, washing your hands—just rest your attention on that activity. When thoughts come rushing in, just let them go and re-focus your attention on what you are doing.
- Here's a few ideas for when you can fit in a moment of mindfulness.
- The situation right now feel very uncertain and it is easy to feel that we have no control. That can make us feel very anxious. The thing is that we never know how things will turn out but we tend not to think about it. The pandemic is forcing us to face this uncertainty. It's not easy but learning to find ease with uncertainty will certainly reduce our anxiety.
- One way to do that is to reflect on how everything is changing all the time. Spring is coming now in the northern hemisphere, in spite of the crisis. Our bodies are changing moment to moment as we digest our food, age and breathe. This is the rhythm of our lives. The not-knowing is simply part of that rhythm.