Reducing anxiety in these unpredictable times - 3 easy steps
Unless you've been living in the wilderness with no access to any form of media for the last month, then you, like everyone else know we are living in unprecedented times. With the economy being so unpredictable, people losing their jobs and becoming sick or dying on a daily basis, it is easy to understand why we may be feeling anxious right now.
For many more Americans and citizens of other countries that have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs and steady income, there is still understandably a rise in anxiety levels. Old routines have vaporized over night and many now find themselves having to balance working from home, playing the role of teacher, parent and good partner. This huge shift in the economy and as importantly, daily routines being upended has left many feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of the future.
I want to share some good news... you can reclaim control of your feelings, even if you cannot control everything that is going on around you. I want to share with you some really easy tips and tricks that will help reduce anxiety, promote a positive outlook and help bring back a sense of balance, but first...
Without getting too philosophical of fluffy for many of you, it's important to understand that deep down there are very few (if any) events that are negative. No doubt some of you are instantly shouting at the screen as you read this but bare with me a second. How many times in your life has something happened to you that you immediately thought was terrible or a disaster, only to look back upon a few years later and actually say "although it didn't feel like it at the time, that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because.....insert your new path here."
I also want to make it clear that in no way am I saying that the current COVID-19 outbreak and all it brings with it is good. People dying, people losing their jobs, people being isolated, I understand all of these things are awful. However, I also understand that it feels the way it feels right now because we are in the middle of it. What if from this disaster we learn many important lessons, such as the need for medical research to deal quickly and effectively with future potential outbreaks that could possibly be even more sinister? Maybe someone who recovers from this illness or loses a loved one decides life is too short and changes their career path to pursue their dream and lives a much more fulfilling life. Maybe one of those people who changed their career path because of this discovers or creates something that brings enormous benefit to all of mankind that infinitely outweighs all the negative happeings we are currently experiencing.
The point I would like to make is that although something feels terrible when we are in the midst of it, the reason it feels terrible is usually because we're in the midst of it. This time will pass and if we can have the wisdom to accept right now, today, that there is something we can learn from this instead of labeling it as a truly horrific event that we have no way of recovering from then who knows what good can come of it? Maybe the chance to lower our anxiety, become a better partner, parent, employee, employer, happier person are all things we could attain right now.
Okay, now let me share some actionable items we can do immediately to relieve anxiety and help us focus on what we want to create, rather than all that is wrong.
1. Write down two things that you are grateful for.
I know there are an endless stream of things we should be grateful for, but for now just write down two of them with a brief explanation as to why you are grateful for them. Please write them down, don't just think it over in your head. It is not possible to feel anxiety and gratitude at the same time, so shift into a state of gratitude and give your mind and body a much needed break.
2. Practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique for 2 minutes.
For this breathing technique you take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, filling your lungs as best you can, then hold your breath for 7 seconds, before slowly exhaling for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle continuously for 2 minutes or 6 breath cycles.
3. Take some time to figure out one thing you want to create for yourself.
This could be something as simple as learning to eat healthier, or wanting to spend more time with your children once things return to "normal". Whatever it is, write it down on the same piece of paper you use for your gratitude list.
I hope this helps in some small way. Please know that you are welcome to reach out to me and I will respond. You can get me at Max@completecoachingkc.com
Take care and best wishes.