Since the corona virus pandemic hit at the beginning of the year, we have all in one way or another, been managing our anxiety levels. If like me you've been up and down, but have found a new norm, then right now you're doing ok again. But what happens once lock down lifts once and for all? Do we all just pile back onto the London tubes without a care in the world? Do we all simply stop in our tracks, change lanes again and keep on keeping on, without a second thought? My guess is that anxiety is going to rear its ugly head again, causing distress and dis-ease. And so, here are my thoughts on how to handle anxiety and fear in a post lock down world.
The single most important thing that you can do, is actually to stop doing something. Stop taking ownership of your anxious feelings. By which I mean, stop referring to it as "my" anxiety. It's not yours. You do not own it. It is not something that you can tangibly pick up and put down. It is a behaviour that you are exhibiting and once that hits home, you will make efforts to change your anxious behaviour. By holding it close and referring to it as "my anxiety", you give it power and relinquish responsibility. The simple act of changing your language will trigger empowerment. You are running this show. Not anxiety. Not fear.
Once you have changed your language, you are then able to acknowledge your fear or anxious feelings. Don't try to bury them or hide from how you feel. Admit you are feeling scared, anxious, nervous, fearful (delete/add as appropriate). Then, do something brave. Ask the emotion what it wants, and then have the courage and patience to listen.
What is the fear or anxiety trying to achieve? Does it want to keep you safe? Does it want to protect you from further harm? When I want to conjure up a visual of fear or anxiety, it usually presents itself as a child or younger person. If so, perhaps fear is frightened? Really take the time to hear what it is saying to you.
Then and only then will you be in a position to accept that this fear or anxiety is a part of you. But here's the important part. It does not define you. In the same way as our kids may have a say as to what they eat each week, but we don't let them manage the weekly shop, nor should we permit our individual negative emotions run the show. It is, after all, our show. The anxiety is there for a reason (which you have already heard) but it is not in charge...that my lovely, is you.
And so we come to the final steps. Having acknowledged the anxious feelings and asked what they want, the final part of this process is to ask what they need from you, to enable them to sit back and behave themselves. Again, listen...is it forgiveness? Is it peace? Is it love? Take the time you need. Once you have the thought and hear the words, ask yourself, can you give it? If the answer is yes, then do so freely, with everything you have. As balance and harmony are restored, so the anxiety that you felt will lift.
My final piece of advice would be, that if you are struggling to remove your anxious feelings once and for all on your own, ask for help. You do not need to live in an anxious life. Your life is yours for the taking. Pandemic or no pandemic, get out there and reclaim it.