I am writing this on April 27th for the June edition and realise that when you read this some of the issues we are currently facing may well have changed. Or, they may not have. This provides me with a very real example of just how uncertain looking ahead is at this moment in time.
I can make some assumptions about the circumstances we may be facing in June, but, right now, the truth is that I do not know what restrictions will have been relaxed — or if anything will have even changed at all. Individual reaction to this level of uncertainty is a very personal one as is the level of anxiety experienced.
We can all become fixated on the future and constantly be asking ‘what if’ questions. The content of our ‘what if’ thoughts tends to lead us to a worse case answer which, in turn, generates greater fear, thereby increasing our anxiety. I must stress that the issues many of us are currently facing are very real and personal. Concerns about health, finances, food, the roof over our head, schooling for our children, and the health and wellbeing of our loved ones are just some of our very present concerns. These give rise to anxious thoughts and feelings which almost always travel into the future ending with one or two disastrous outcomes. The encouraging truth is that we also do best, in these highly anxious situations, when we stay close to the present, the here-and-now, as much as possible.
There is a mass of information available aimed at helping us to cope emotionally with the anxieties and distress generated by the current pandemic, some of which is very helpful. I have set out below some approaches that I hope you will find useful. When reading them, my suggestion is that that you approach each area with this thought: ‘Any action I take, I will do it on purpose!’ We are not all the same and the following only include some examples to help you. Whatever you choose to do, make it personal to you and do it on purpose.
1) Stay in the here-and-now
Pay attention to whatever you are doing. For example: Notice how a shower or bath makes your skin feel. When exercising, notice your surroundings and how your breathing and body is reacting. Notice when your mind wanders, which is just what minds do, and choose to focus on something that is present in the here and now.
2) Talk with others
On purpose, maintain contact with others. This can provide opportunities for you to vent your concerns while also concentrating on living in the present.
3) Manage your news input
Build in periods of ‘news-free’ time.
4) Aim to do at least one purposeful activity each day
Choose something that will give you a sense of achievement and control—something that, for you, creates a ‘feel good’ moment which you can focus on.
5) Watch, read, listen to something or do something that will make you laugh, smile, and experience happiness.
This will be very personal to you.
I hope the above suggestions will help you during this unprecedented time.
If needed, professional help and support remains available by phone, video call, or on-line. To get in touch, please click here.