The pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of anxiety across the globe which has been partly due to the mass hysteria perpetrated by the media. This week, I was talking to a friend from China and he said that his family in Shanghai thought that the new mutant virus strain spelled the end of the world for UK residents. Personally, I have heard from lots of people who have tested positive but nothing like the Armageddon that the rest of the world thinks we are going through.
Psychologists are also suggesting that isolation from family and friends especially during the holiday season has led to people worrying more.
Are there any practical tools we can use to help us worry less?
- Distinguish Between The Things You Can And Cannot Control – Try and define what you cannot control. This then allows you to focus on what you do have power over. There are always people who you can turn to for a little bit of support or activities you can participate in to change your mental state such as taking a short walk, having a warm drink, or reading a book.
- Create A Family Tradition – This year, many people are feeling stagnant as they have not been able to share the holidays with their loved ones. Consider creating a family tradition such as preparing your favourite dish such as roast lamb, chicken biriyani, marble cake, apple strudel or a black forest gateau to mark the New Year. In so doing, you are setting a marker marking the end of 2020 and can look forward to the New Year feeling rejuvenated.
- Thoughts Are Not Facts – When worries pull you down, take note of the recurring thought and check the facts regarding it. Normally, 99% of our worries never come true. Ask yourself what are the chances that this catastrophe will actually take place? If this thing you are worrying about is unlikely to happen, surely you can spend less time thinking about it.
- Worst Case Scenario– Think about what is the worst that can happen. Normally, we just get caught up in our thought cycles without actually facing up to what we are actually afraid of. Once you know what the worst-case scenario is, you can then come up with a plan that will help you get through it.
- Name It– If you find yourself worrying, you need to recognise it. By naming it e.g., black mood, pulled down by an undercurrent, pit of despair, you can then take action to stop this happening. Many people get so used to worrying that this becomes their default state and they do not even realise that they are anxious all the time.
- Complete Your Stress Response – The natural human response to stress is fight or flight. With the pandemic we have been living in this heightened stressful condition for a long period, we can complete the stress response to this invisible threat by shaking it out. If you imagine a dog coming out of the rain and shaking its fur to get dry. This can be embarrassing so to avoid your neighbours and loved ones from calling the police, I recommend you do it in private.
- Soothing Gestures –When a baby cries, the Mother hugs the baby, and the baby is immediately comforted. One technique that helps is after your shower, spend a few minutes giving yourself a self-massage so you feel comforted and supported.