How to Turn Paralyzing Anxiety Into an Action Plan
Our world has completely transformed in the past few months due to the proliferation of coronavirus. If you find yourself struggling to maintain a positive attitude, you’re not the only one. People around the world are having difficulties handling the prolonged stress and uncertainty associated with this changed reality, as well as worries about what comes next.
The good news is, you can make paralyzing anxiety work to your advantage. Here’s how to turn anxiety into action and stay on a more even keel when worries about COVID-19 threaten to overwhelm you.
1. Be Judicious About How You Consume the News
While it’s essential to stay in the know about the spread of coronavirus, be careful not to become obsessed. A steady diet of bad news will only increase your anxiety. Choose one or two trustworthy sources for information updates – such as your local health department – and check them only once or twice per day.
How to turn anxiety into action: If you find yourself automatically assuming the worst-case scenario will come true, recognize that as an unhealthy thinking pattern and try to approach new information by thinking critically about it.
2. Minimize Your Risk of Contracting Coronavirus
Understandably, we are all worried about an illness that has spread so quickly across our planet. However, there are specific steps you can take to keep yourself, your family and vulnerable members of your community safe and healthy.
How to turn anxiety into action: If you haven’t already done so, adopt thorough handwashing habits and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like door handles, light switches and your phone. Stay home as often as you can, only leaving for essential errands such as picking up prescriptions. Decrease your amount of exposure to people outside your immediate family.
3. Be Practical
As difficult as it is to avoid bad news lately, it is unhealthy to dwell on coronavirus concerns every waking moment. It’s OK if you’re feeling stressed, but you still need to maintain a sense of normalcy during this crisis.
How to turn anxiety into action: If you have friends or family members who find ways to inject their fear into every conversation, try to gracefully change the subject. If they insist on talking about it, set boundaries for your mental health. For example, you could say something like, “I can only talk about this topic for 10 minutes before I need to move on.” If you have kids, try to limit their exposure to bad news, but give them time and space to discuss their concerns as needed. While coronavirus is frightening, it can also become a teachable moment.
4. Give Yourself Space to Grieve
Coronavirus has upended our daily lives in many ways. We all have something we’ve lost, whether it’s a favorite pastime such as going to the theatre or an upcoming concert or sporting event you were looking forward to attending. Perhaps you were planning a long-awaited vacation you’ve had to postpone, or you merely miss the simple pleasure of going out to eat with friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with being angry or sad about these lost opportunities.
How to turn anxiety into action: You may find habits such as journaling or meditation are valuable practices to adopt in these trying times. You can work through your emotions more mindfully, instead of falling back on unhealthy coping strategies.
5. Take Things One Step at a Time
Much like 9/11, coronavirus has already divided our lives into “before” and “after.” In these unprecedented times, nobody knows for sure when – or if – things will return to normal, and that can be scary to contemplate.
How to turn anxiety into action: Be patient, and understand that other people are working through the same sorts of struggles right now. If you feel stressed or exhausted, make time for self-care. Protect your mental health, so you can be there for those you love.
Addiction Treatment During the Time of COVID-19
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