Erin Lightman Renner
Pandemic Anxiety and what to do about it
Feeling trapped at home. Risking your health and maybe even your life to earn an income. Competing against thousands to replace the job that was taken away. Seeing increasingly bleak news headlines. There are so many potential places for anxiety to grab ahold right now. I feel it and my clients have been feeling it.
So what is there to do in the face of so much fear and uncertainty? When the challenges I face seem to overwhelm my ability to cope, I like to come up with a plan. Here is what I came up with for myself and what I’ve been sharing with my clients:
Step 1: Acknowledge and accept the anxiety. Part of this is remembering that anxiety evolved with us humans to help protect us survive. At its best, anxiety helps us mobilize our resources.
Step 2: Take deep breaths. Breathe in, filling my lungs, belly, sides for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Breathe out the tension for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. In for 5, out for 7. In for 5, out for 7.
Step 3: Make a list of things I cannot control. Some items are absolute; for example, “I cannot control whether people in the grocery store wear masks.” Some items have exceptions; for example, “I cannot control my partner’s behavior, but I can ask them for help when I need it.”
Step 4: Make a list of things I can control. “I can control how clean or dirty my house is.” “I can control how much time I spend scrolling on social media and news sites.” Find ways to spend more of the day engaging with these items.
What strategies and plans have you created for coping with pandemic anxiety?