by Alana Gregg, MS
Anxiety is something we all struggle with. As human beings, it is normal to feel fear and anxiety.
Our anxiety tells us we need to be assured that everything will be fine or that we or our loved ones will never get sick. We need a cure or a vaccine to be found now. We need 100% certainty this will end. We need life to go back to normal now. We feel deep pain when we look around at the grief and loss so many, or even we ourselves, are experiencing. No one is unaffected.
Life in a pandemic is extremely difficult, but the reality is, life is always hard. People lose jobs, they get sick, we lose people we love. We just are more aware of it right now because it is on a much grander scale.
We wish there was a cure for anxiety. A magic wand, maybe, that will take it away. There are things that will numb our anxiety in the moment, but we know they wear off eventually. Our minds continue to race, our hearts beat faster, it becomes more difficult to breathe. While we will never be completely free from anxiety because we will continue to live in a world that is hard, we can learn to recognize and manage the anxiety we do have.
Here are 4 ways to help reduce the impact of anxiety on your life:
- What are we believing about the situation? When we are feeling a strong emotion like anxiety, we have certain ways that we automatically respond. But what we don’t often realize is that there is a step in between how we feel and how we respond. That step is figuring out what we are believing about what is going on. For instance, if someone makes a joke about how we look and we are already believing that we are ugly, then our response will be much bigger. But if we believe that what people say about us does not matter that much, then it will be a lot easier to let a joke roll off our backs. We cannot change our response until we first figure out what we are saying to ourselves.
- Stay connected. We were not created to live life on our own. We were created for connection and community. Yet oftentimes our initial response is to isolate. We can shut down on the inside or the outside. But either way, we are not asking for help or allowing people to share our burdens or pain. Sometimes we do this because of fear or shame. Maybe there’s a voice in our head telling us we don’t deserve to be helped, or if we asked for help, the people we love might reject us. But those are lies that keep us trapped in our pain. Being overwhelmed is extremely difficult. Being overwhelmed and alone is insurmountable.
- Focus on what you can control. The hard reality of life is that there is very little that we can control. Even when we do everything “right,” bad things still happen. This is part of living in a broken world. We cannot control how other people respond, what other people think of us, or other people’s thoughts and feelings. Yet we waste a lot of energy trying, energy that we could be spending doing things that are in our control. We can control our own responses and the boundaries we set. We can control how well we take care of ourselves. We can control what we say to ourselves and what we are choosing to believe. We need to let the rest go so we can experience more freedom and joy.
- Pray. Unfortunately, prayer is not the ATM machine that we want it to be. But it does remind us that we are not in control and that there is Someone bigger than us who is. Problems become a little smaller in our perspective when we take refuge in God, and He allows us to experience the peace that surpasses the circumstances we see with our eyes. Whether it’s the serenity prayer, on-your-knees kind of prayer, or the desperate “help me!” kind of prayer, we need to talk to God about what we are anxious about so He can remind us He is bigger.
Anxiety Counseling in Pennsylvania
If you feel like your anxiety is ruling your life, please ask for help. Our team at Lime Tree Counseling is ready to help you however we can. One of our caring counselors would love to come alongside you and create a safe space for you to share your anxiety struggles. We offer anxiety counseling for children, teens, and adults. You can also schedule an online counseling session from the comfort of your own home. Call us today and set up a free 15 minute phone consultation.