Anxiety in an era of uncertainty
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Anxiety has become a universal experience in 2020. As a society we have experienced unexpected shifts personally and collectively as we have experienced shutdowns, working from home, homeschooling, and scrambling to buy basic essentials.
This pandemic has exposed weaknesses in our society in caring for those most vulnerable including the elderly, homeless and substance users while also laying bare systemic racism that has been woven into our society since the creation of the nation of Canada as a colonial state in 1867.
All of this coupled with our own individual struggles has amplified our levels of anxiety.
How can we wisely navigate this widespread anxiety?
Understand anxiety :
Anxiety has been described as overestimating the danger and underestimating our ability to cope.
Realistically remind yourself what the present danger you face at this moment, not tomorrow, in a week or next year
Review your abilities to cope including: support systems, family, friends, financial supports, and your personal coping skills (breathing, art, exercise, journalling, etc).
2. Notice your triggers for anxiety
Are you triggered to become more anxious when you are on social media? Or is it when talking to certain friends or is it when going outside in crowded places?
Depending on the trigger wisely choose whether to reduce your exposure to this trigger or find strategies to cope when you are faced with anxiety-provoking situations.
3. Do something wise that works for you!
In each moment when you notice in your body sensations that feel like anxiety (increased heart rate, increased energy, etc) just notice this and label this as anxiety without judging yourself negatively.
Take a moment and pause and ask yourself what do I need right now to feel more grounded?
For you this may be taking a walk, drawing a picture, reading a novel, or connecting with a family member.
After this activity pause and note how you are feeling physically and emotionally. If you want yourself feeling less anxious and more grounded consider using this action in the future. If you find yourself feeling more anxious, do not judge yourself, but note this and try a different action.
4. When in doubt just breathe and move your body!
When we take deep breaths we can move from fight or flight mode to rest mode. Breathing can be done for 1 minute or way longer!
Exercising, moving, stretching can release anxious energy from your body and help you become more grounded.
5. Seek connection and support from friends!
One of the ways we bring our bodies and selves into balance is by connecting with others with whom we feel safe and at home- this is co-regulation- and we all need this! Think about who you can call, text, video or visit with that is brings connection and joy into your life.