For the last two weeks I've been working diligently to manage my anxiety. For someone who struggles with the fear of losing people close to them, an epidemic is your worst nightmare. Add in a healthy dose of empathy and you spend your day working to manage your emotions so good luck getting anything done! I feel genuinely lucky that as a trained mental health professional, I have the tools and support I need to navigate this crisis.
It's well known that once your body is in survival mode your ability to apply rational thinking is turned off, yet what we really need to survive and thrive in this type of situation is to do just that. Think rationally. Now, how do we manage our fears without just pretending the situation doesn't exist? We don't want to pretend nothing is going on because that will perpetuate the problem (ie, ignoring social distancing), yet if we think about it we risk being overcome with fear and anxiety and not being able to manage our lives and emotions in the coming months.
When it comes to managing anxiety, I always counsel my clients to reduce their baseline anxiety as much as possible. In this situation, one of the most important tools for doing this is going to be self-awareness. Knowing when you are thinking about what you can't control, or what might happen vs. what is happening will be key in managing your emotional response. You will also need to dig into what works for you, in a healthy way, to ease your anxiety?
Does having the facts help most? Stay away from the news and stick to briefings from the government. Turn off social media.
Do you feel better when you share how you are feeling? Set a daily video call with someone. If you can't do video, then do phone. Video is best though. The sense of connection is even greater when you can see the other person.
Do you feel calm when you feel in control? Make a list of everything you can do in your situation, then make a plan to do it. Even though you can't control the spread of the disease, you can control your own immediate environment, as well as your actions.
Finally, give yourself some time to process your emotions yet remember there is a difference between processing how you feel and allowing yourself to worry about what could happen sometime in the future.
If you need support, please join my weekday checkins on zoom. 4-5 pm PST.
Melanie Schroeder is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: #coronapocolypse check in
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