If you’re feeling a little anxious right now, you’re not alone. The world as we knew, even a few days ago, feels like it’s been tilted off its axis. So it’s pretty human if you’re feeling off kilter. Many are.
COVID-19 is disrupting all of our lives.My son’s final high school trip, cancelled. My upcoming book tour, cancelled. My income stream, largely through keynote speaking, cancelled. And a question mark looms large over summer plans.
I’ll bet you’ve got your own derailed plans to add to that list.
With so much uncertainty, it’s little wonder fear has crept into our lives and taken over the collective psyche in whole new ways.
But here’s the deal….
We don’t have to live in fear. Sure, we feel fear. It’s wired into our psychological DNA to alert us to threats and propel us to safeguard ourselves (and those we love) from them.
All highly constructive.
But left unchecked, fear can set up residence in our heads and hearts and leave us living in a real life nightmare… of our own making.
This is a challenging time. But it doesn’t have to be terrifying. It all comes down to how we’re choosing to deal with it.
Here’s five suggestions for keeping your fear and anxiety in check.
1. Double down on what strengthens you (not what scares you)
Dire images of apocalyptic scenarios have a way of capturing our imaginations. But stressing out about what scares you doesn’t strengthen your ability to combat COVID-19 or any virus, it weakens it.
There is a lot outside your control right now, which is all the more reason to focus on what lays within it. So when fear dials up, double down on whatever helps make you feel stronger – body, mind and spirit.
Exercise. Eat well. Get sleep. Meditate. Journal. Spend time in nature. Prioritize your schedule. Listen to music. Read an uplifting book (I know just the one!) Do more of whatever activities recharge, reset your headspace and reconnect you to your strength.
2. Speak calmly (and avoid talking up stress)
Our words create our reality. If you start describing a situation with Armageddon-like language that’s exactly who your body and mind will experience it. This isn’t about denying hard realities or downplaying legitimate dangers. It is about not talking them up.
As I wrote in my new You’ve Got This! “When you use language that reflect that you trust yourself to meet your challenges, it sends a message to your subconscious that just reinforces your ability to do so.”
Sure, this is a difficult time. Yet when you talk to people, use language that conveys how your own belief that you’ve got this, you’ll get through this and come out the other side of this stronger, wiser and better off than you went into it.
Telling everyone how stressed you are about getting sick just lowers your immunity, putting you at more risk of the very thing you’re afraid of.
3. Avoid ‘fear super-spreaders’
Fear is more contagious than any virus. It feeds on itself and spreads to those around us. So if you’re engaging in conversations with anxious people who are absorbed in fear-casting apocalyptic doomsday scenarios, exit them. Now. You don’t have to ‘unfriend’ the worrywarts and catastrophizers in your midst, but you do need to set some strong boundaries lest their untamed fears become your own.
4. Arm yourself in facts, not fear
Just this morning on Facebook someone in my orbit posted a graphic stating that if you gargle salty water when you first get COVID-19 it will stop it spreading to your lungs. Seriously? This sort of advice isn’t just irresponsible, it’s dangerous (In line with point 4 above, I unfriended this person). So find credible sources for your information. And block out (or unfriend) those who aren’t.
5. Prioritize your time
None of us wanted this disruption to our lives, but we mustn’t squander it. So if you’ve been spending hours scrolling newsfeeds, be all the more deliberate in using the extra time that your derailed plans have landed in your schedule to set yourself up to look back on this time for the gifts you found in it.
Use it to sharpen your strengths and hone your talents. Use it to learn a new skill or make that vision board you’ve never had time for. Use it to strengthen relationships, rekindle an old hobby or clear the mental and physical clutter from your life. Above all, use it to help you weather this storm better and emerge from it better off.
So before you do one more thing today, do this.
Breath in calm,
breath out fear.
Breath in calm again.
Then grounding yourself in your true strength, decide how you want to show up today – for yourself and those around you – as someone others want in their corner, a person grounded in self-trust, not self-doubt; in empathy, not insecurity; in faith, not fear.
Then tomorrow, do the same.
Use this time as a catalyst for discovering the mettle you’re made of.
You’ve got this!
Margie Warrell has just released her fifth book You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself. She plans to do a Take 2 You’ve Got This! Book Tour later this year.