Last week Dr. Ashley Solomon with Galia Collaborative provided us with a list of tools to cope with anxiety. You can read that here.
Below, we’re including the original introduction to her article along with three additional strategies you can use to help cope with increased anxiety at this time.
Job insecurity (or loss), economic instability, loss of routine, the potential for ending up in a hospital, worry for your loved ones, juggling work and kids, no Lysol?!? If you get anxious just reading that list, then you are definitely… human.
Even if you have struggled with anxiety in the past, the current situation is most certainly not business as usual. We are facing so many threats to our bodies and minds right now that our brains don’t even know where to start trying to process them.
I’d love to offer a quick fix, a way to calm your nerves and give you total zen, but just like we won’t see a vaccine for some time, we have to also recognize that finding our peace is going to be a work in progress as well.
However, there are a few tools that I want suggest as we wade through the pandemic anxiety of 2020. The great news is that if we start practicing them now, they will get incorporated into our routine and serve as well, even when the world goes back to “normal” — whatever that is!
Recall a time where you overcame a crisis
Given that we keep hearing about how “unprecedented” this pandemic is, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that there’s no roadmap. Sure, we haven’t dealt with this exact scenario before, but we have all managed to get through some really heavy stuff in the past, and there are things there to learn.
This is an evidence-based strategy for increasing our resilience. Take a few moments and physically write down an experience you’ve had where you overcome a big obstacle. It could be something that you accomplished over time or an experience of managing a crisis. Focus on the skills, temperament, beliefs, and supports you brought to get through that time and how you felt after it was over.
Research shows that focusing on our successes and reminding ourselves of our innate ability to survive helps us be more confident and stronger in our current circumstances.
Give yourself the gift of self-compassion
If you aren’t sure how to navigate a global pandemic, welcome to humanity! We can look at our collective uncertainty as frightening, or we can look at it as a chance to be fully in something together. That means that whatever you are feeling, someone else is feeling it too.
Lately, I’ve heard a lot of us being so hard on ourselves for how we’re coping, how we’re parenting, how we’re working, and even how we’re feeding ourselves.
Let’s all agree that we get a great big pass on perfection right now. It’s out the window. Impossible. Done. All we can do is the best we can do, and that’s going to have to be enough.
If you’re still struggling to offer kindness to yourself, try this: write a letter from someone who you know loves you dearly (it could even be a grandparent that you no longer have, or a pet) to yourself, reassuring yourself that you are doing the best you can. Then keep it close and read it when you need a boost.
Reach out for the support of a therapist
If you notice that you are struggling to get things done because you feel overwhelmed by your emotions and stress, it’s likely time to reach out to a mental health professional. It’s 100% reasonable that you would need support right now. We all do!
A therapist will work with you on more individualized strategies for your mental wellbeing. They are a skilled, non-judgemental professional who can help you figure out where to focus and the best next steps to take.
While most therapists have moved to telehealth to help reduce the spread, most are still accepting new clients. It might feel weird to talk to a therapist online, but it actually can be really natural. And you can do it in your PJs (assuming your PJs are video-appropriate!)!
This stuff is hard, there is no doubt about it. But the beauty of hard things is that we are forced to grow with and through them.
If you’re looking for a mental health professional, you can learn more on Galia’s website here.
Dr. Ashley Solomon is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Galia Collaborative, an organization that helps purpose-driven women elevate their impact and mental wellness through therapy, coaching, and content. She blends her scientific acumen, her warm style, and her real-life wisdom to help people during challenge points in their lives. She's committed to busting the stigma of mental health and helping people heal, grow, and lead.