I’m wondering when we last faced such a conflation of causes of fear and anxiety. We’ve had two years of the pandemic and while the acute effects are past for the time being there are still many cases of COVID with people not being able to work because they are ill. Then for businesses, there is the effect of Brexit on the ease of doing business, higher taxes, changes to patterns of working and many employees are choosing a hybrid model which some managers find difficult. Affecting both business and individuals are higher and more volatile energy prices. We will all start to feel the effect of an increased cost of living. Some may have been affected by extreme weather events caused by climate change. And on top of all of that comes a war in Ukraine. The biggest factor in all of this is that a lot of it is beyond our control.
It is also very easy to focus on ourselves and how other people behave in very difficult circumstances can be enormously inspiring. We’ve all been moved by the many stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Such stories enable me to find courage.
What else can we do to prevent ourselves from being overwhelmed by anxiety?
- Being disciplined in our use of social media. The constant stream of news can be very addictive, and doom scrolling doesn’t help. There are plenty of people catastrophising which is only likely to increase our anxiety.
- Check our sources of information especially at a time when there is plenty of misinformation on all kinds of topics.
- Routines can also help. During lockdowns I’m sure I was not alone in finding that daily and weekly routines gave me a structure which helped me get through, for example, making sure I took breaks and went outside.
- Keeping a sense of perspective. One of the things that can help with this is gratitude practice. Thinking of at least three things to be grateful for before going to sleep makes for a much better night and reminds us of all that is positive in our lives.
- Mindfulness. How this works when it comes to anxiety is that we need to stop and observe ourselves and how we’re feeling to help us manage our feelings. Mindfulness creates a gap between feeling and responding and stops us from just reacting in a way which might not help.
- Look for a way to get involved, especially in the Ukrainian situation. There is no shortage of charities who need money, clothes or food which they are transporting to Ukraine to support the people there.
- Random acts of kindness can change our mindset and make a difference to others.
- Exercise. There is plenty of evidence that shows that exercise is a very good way of dealing with anxiety.
- Talk to someone. Stay connected, don’t get isolated, don’t withdraw. Keep in touch with your family and friends and if you need professional help don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. There is no shame in feeling anxious, especially now.
We’re here to talk if you’d like to get in touch.