Managing Anxiety In An Uncertain World
Managing Anxiety In An Uncertain World
While I have always been one to question the possibility of their being alternatives universes, never did I imagine I would be living in a time that quite felt like one. Skeptical and worried eyes behind masked faces everywhere. I feel fortunate when I can interpret those covered smiles. A playground dressed in bright yellow caution tape.. a visual that creates such eeriness, I can almost hear the faint and haunting harmonies of Enya’s ‘Boadicea’ playing in the background of the new landscapes. But, in each surreal moment I remind myself that there is a message in mother nature’s present demeanor, and I am most definitely not alone.
This is a time to go within. A time to listen closely to the silence, and a time to release the illusion of control to allow growth. Easier said than done, I know this is hard. That isolation over time can be as detrimental on the soul, as a virus can be on a body, but with my heart and empathic soul; I tell you that we can make it through this will new dignity, pride, love and especially hope. However, like most moments of realization and awakening, they come with hindsight post the challenging circumstances, and I realize that for most, managing the unknown and the monsters under the bed seem impossible at this time in the distancing puzzle. In those moments when you feel you’ve tried your last meditation, or you no longer experience relief from your favorite songs, here are a few practices to try to keep your spirit afloat and your dreams close to your heart.
Practice shorter moments of gratitude: Within the passing moments of each day, remember how fortunate you are. For the roofs you live under, for the lushness of spring rising all around you, for the breaking of each dawn. Feeling gracious for the simplest of things and what you once may have considered the more mundane of moments.
Gain perspective: Do not beat yourself up for still feeling overwhelmed even if you and your family have remained healthy. This is no joke.. this is NOT ‘normal.’ But, do try to realize how blessed and lucky you really are. I have a client who is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. When asked how she is, she explains ‘My ancestors hid in a basement, took shifts sleeping under the warmth of a blanket, and witnessed unimaginable acts of crutelty. I feel lucky in many ways right now.’
Keep Breathing: It’s easy to practice mindful breathing when things are easy to process in the mind, and even while coping with daily stressors. But, when faced with catastrophe these rituals may easily fall by the wayside. Wake up each morning and breathe. Close your eyes if possible, if not enter a state of gratitude and take 30 mindful breaths. Your amygdala, body and soul will thank you.
Practice self-care and use aromatherapy: Treat yourself to a little spritz, the scent of a burning candle, some soothing lotion or a long bath. It is proven that the emotional center of the mind which generates anxiety, slows down and begins to generate more positive thoughts during self-care and the use sense memory through scents. Why not find a little you time, with all of this new time?
Be forgiving and patient with yourself: We will all have bad days. This does not mean you are failing. It does not mean all of the emotional and spiritual work you have done is gone. It simply means you are human. There is beauty in the world, there is hope within us, and we are designed to prevail. We are all going to grow together in this.
Loosen your grip: This is something I tell my patients often. There is no sense nor reward in trying to control or hold onto anything too tightly right now. Except, of course, your loved ones. We cannot change nor control what is occurring at this time. Control in itself is only an illusion and a maladaptive form of fear. Take each day at a time with grace and remind yourself to let go. When I am working with a patient who has struggles with control, even the ones who don’t realize they do; I suggest a variety of exercises to aid in recognizing the anxiety the need to control causes, and that the impetus to control is actually fear. These are additional practices I prescribe clients as means to harness their own addictions to the need to control.
When the urge to control arises, take a pause and connect with what the deeper feelings are. Are they fear? Are they panic? Are they insecurities or jealousy? When you have identified a feeling, first create a loving space for yourself and for having those impulses. We are all capable of being triggered and there is no reason to shame ourselves for experiencing emotions such as these.
When the feeling has been identified, write it down. Then follow that with a list of fears that surface while you are feeling that way. Next, make a list of how you feel when you are safe in a moment. When there is nothing to worry about, nothing to change and nothing to dictate. Become grounded in that feeling of peace. Embrace the feeling of trust. Trust that you are okay, you are exactly where you need to be, and each savored moment provides insight and growth. Embrace the freedom of not needing to control things around you and savor the feeling of not having to always push or grasp. Let go and breathe..
Lastly, create an imagery or a phrase for yourself that resonates with the peaceful feeling you have created for yourself. Make it unique and independent to you only, and each time the urge to control reappears, repeat this phrase or visualize the imagery and allow yourself to come back into the safe space.
If you are experiencing anxiety that seems unrelenting, reach out for help. There is no shame is seeking guidance and there is no reason to suffer. We all need a hand, an ear that listens or a hug at times. You never need to do anything alone. If you know a friend or loved one in need, encourage them to seek help. Remember, giving advice does not necessarily help.. well trained therapists DO NOT give advice, nor do they ever relate anything to themselves instead they guide with questions. So, the next time someone comes to you in need, try only to listen and offer sympathy.
Allison Chawla is a Licensed Psychotherapist, certified life and coach, and writer. She maintains private practices in both Manhattan and Rhinebeck, New York. Allison holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University, and a Life Coaching Certification from The Life Purpose Institute. Before obtaining a clinical degree, Allison mastered certifications in Reiki Energy healing, meditation and Meridian Tapping for Anxiety. Allison also holds certifications in applied Neuropsychology and Neuroscience, for Treating anxiety, worry and panic.
Over the years, Allison has graced the pages of the “New York Times, and “O” Magazine, inspiring women to embrace their strengths and uniqueness. She was featured on the popular web sight “Mommy Nearest” as one of New York’s top postpartum Life Coaches and contributes pieces to Huffpo.com , Mother.ly, WellandBeing.org She frequently sited on other on social media platforms and in scholarly articles. Allison believes in the treatment of the combined mind, body, soul trio for optimum wellness, and incorporates both clinical and holistic approaches to her patients. Contact: Allisonjchawla@icloud.com