Steps to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety
In the last two months I have had numerous conversations with friends, family and clients who have found themselves circling down the black funnel of Corona Virus panic. It can come in many forms. Racing heart rates, spinning thoughts, absentmindedness, nervous stomach and sleepless nights are just a few ways that worry, panic, fear and anxiety manifest themselves.
The negative effects of fear and anxiety on the world population today is a very real problem and can be very damaging to whole health.
Taking steps to harness these volatile emotions is extremely important not only in the midst of a pandemic but also as we begin to consider opening up the world again. Throughout our lives we will have circumstances that present us with the opportunity to turn to fear and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are emotions that can stem from our perception that we cannot control our circumstances or foresee how things may work out.
Your child has a fever and you are not sure why. Your team didn’t meet work standards and you are afraid how your boss may react. Your husband is out later than normal more often than you would like.
Spiritual speaking, fear and anxiety basically come down to “trust”. Who are you not trusting? If you are trusting yourself or other people to fix your circumstances, you will be left wanting.
Good news! The only One you can fully trust to be in control of all circumstances is the One who created the world in the first place and by His power holds it together. He is also the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb and knows the number of hairs on your head at any given time. He is also above every world leader or nation and can wipe them out with the brush of His hand. God is the only true source of strength, comfort and peace during troubled times. First and foremost, trust that God is in full control, loves you and knows all you are going through and all you need.
The second piece of good news for those of us who deal with fear and anxiety is that we can control it. We cannot control our circumstances, but we absolutely can control how we think about them. If we choose to control how we think we will also control our feelings about them which will then control our response.
For example, first, we need to identify the thought behind the emotion. This can be the most difficult part but might sound something like this.
“I am feeling panicked because I think I might die from COVID-19.”
Say it aloud. Acknowledge it. Sit and feel it. You are ok.
Second, take the thought and rework it to focus on the truth and what you can do about it. “I do not need to feel panicked because God is in control and I am doing everything possible, on my end, to protect myself. I will follow the mandates and take care of myself.”
Changing your thought will change your emotional and behavioral response. Work hard to make our thought full of positive truth.
Often when we are fearful and anxious if helps to focus on others. Be creative and do acts of kindness for others who need help. Is there a neighbor who needs yard work done? Can some goodies be dropped off to a friend? Can you call or text those you know who are alone.
Reaching out to others will help ease your own anxieties because you are giving of yourself to help others and that provides an automatic blessing in return.
It would be beneficial to limit your exposure to news and social media. This has a tendency to feed anxiety and fear. Focus your thoughts again on God and your healthier thought. We cannot change the circumstances, but we can respond to them in a healthy way.
“If I have to be at home anyway, this would be a good opportunity to get some projects done or read that book sitting on my nightstand.”
Set up a consistent daily routine as if you were going to work or school. Sleeping and eating at set times as well as exercising, showering, and getting dress for the day will set you up for success during times of work, study or play. Lounging around in the same pajamas you have worn all week will only add to your anxiety and stress.
None of this mind work is easy. We must train our minds; not let our minds train us. Ignored thoughts create stuffed feelings that eventually leak out in many damaging ways. Acknowledge the feelings. Identify the thoughts. Change the thoughts. Put the new ones, the truthful ones, into action.