Creating Calm in Uncertain Times
by Richard G. Wirtz, PsyD
Coronavirus/COVID-19, stock market volatility, job instability, mandatory school closings, political divisiveness.....need I say more?
We are faced with unprecedented challenges and uncertainties enough to make anyone at least just a little bit anxious. By definition, we are living in very anxious times because the future is unclear. In such times it is difficult not to fret about how we will be affected by all of the forces impacting the world around us. But....we are NOT helpless!
Here are some suggestions that can help reduce anxiety and create calm:
Arm yourself with information - Knowledge is power. When we know what we are facing and what are considered to be the best practices for dealing with the problem we can now begin problem-solving. Ask questions, seek guidance, create a plan.
Do what can be done - The future may present us with challenges that we couldn't have anticipated but until those challenges actually materialize we can stay focused on what we need to do today. Tomorrow will present us with what we need to do tomorrow.
Stay in the present - Do not become the "victim of a 1000 disasters that never happened". Reserve your energies for what you need to take care of today.
Treat every fear as a chance to be creative and problem-solve - If you must worry about some possible future challenge don't stop your thinking with a question like "What am I going to do if......?" Answer the question! Think your way through the question to the best possible solution you can imagine.
Don't isolate yourself - Even though we are being urged to keep greater than normal physical distance from one another, there are so many ways we can stay connected. Use them!
Ask for help - We are almost always stronger together than we are apart. Not only can we brainstorm with others, challenges do not feel quite as great when we are not alone.
Take care of yourself physically - Eat well, stay hydrated, get sufficient sleep, and be physically active every day. Exercise is a powerful tool against stress and anxiety.
Use stress reduction techniques - The internet has put 1000s of meditation, relaxation, imagery, and mindfulness exercises at our disposal 24 hours a day. Do an internet search of any of those terms and experiment with as many approaches as you can until you find a handful that work for you.
No storm lasts forever. This one will end just as they all do.