Let’s be honest, Covid-19 has thrown many of us into some sort of anxiety. And it’s not necessary about getting infected by the virus, but the social and financial disruption it has caused.
According to CNA, with the lockdown lifting, for some people, the idea of reconnecting with the outside world and ‘adjusting back to normal’ may provoke more distress. “How will I find a job again with such an unstable economy?”, “is the public really germs free and safe?”, “Sian, my boss is gonna start piling loads on me again!”
The more we worry, the worse we feel; and the worse we feel, the more we are worried.
We know what anxiety does to us but how can we get rid of it?
First, you can recognize what types of worries you have and distinguish the useful worries from the useless ones. Next, you remove those that are useless and you would have easily removed at least 90% of your worries.The three types of useless worries are: the unimportant, the unlikely and the unresolved.
The unimportant anxiety
The next time you experience anxiety, ask yourself this question: “How important is the thing that I am worrying about?” and use these three strategies to help answer the question.
Strategy 1: Ask yourself, “will this matter in 5 years from now?”. The number of years doesn’t matter. The point is, we tend to have short-term perspectives towards our actions and this makes molehills look like mountains. If we view our worries from different and longer-term perspectives, it helps us to work more calmly as well as to separate the important worries from the unimportant ones.
Strategy 2: Ask yourself, “where, on the spectrum of bad experiences, is the outcome I am worried about?" Use a terrible experience as a yardstick and ask how dreadful it is compared to the yardstick experience. By comparing the experiences, it will not eliminate any worries but it allows your to compare the molehill and the mountain and look at the problem with a new perspective.
Strategy 3: Ask yourself, “How much is this worry worth?” Is the what-ifs worths struggling for? Does worrying bring you closer or further to the goals you are set to achieve? By coming clear to the worth of your worry, it helps to prioritize and focus your energy on the right things.
The unlikely anxiety
A lot of horrors and disasters are possible but unlikely. This means that it is not impossible for a disaster to happen but what are the chances of it happening? Once you allow yourself to worry about the things that are unlikely, you imagine the worst, and you start developing anxiety about things. Try looking back at things you have had anxiety over that were unlikely, you will see that most of which never happened.
The unresolved anxiety
Premature worrying is dangerous. You may worry about someone close getting infected with the coronavirus, and even if it would almost certainly happen at some point, there is no point in worrying in advance as this may be a problem to be treated. Worrying in advance is not going to help anyone and simply stops people from living life most fully.
“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste. ” - Seth Godin
Now that you have removed the useless worries, you are left with the ones that are significant to you that still continue to bother you. What can you do to deal with them?
1) Turn worries into actions. Ask yourself, “can I do something about this?”. If the answer is yes, develop strategies for solving the problem and make plans to solve it. The unpleasant feeling of anxiety goes away when you are tackling the problem. If the problem cannot be solved, then treat it whenever needed.
2) Use a worry decision tree. Just like how you take steps to make decisions, you can use a structured way to solve the problem causing the anxiety. This can be done by asking yourself a branching series of questions. This is an example:
What am I worried about?Is there anything I can do about this? If yes, find out what you need to do. If not, find ways to distract yourself and stop worrying.
Writing it down or working through the branches with a friend will give you more clarity and hence worry less. By having this structure, you tend to work on problems that can be solved. If they can’t be, worrying will not do anything good anyway.
3) Creating boundaries for your worries. Set aside time for worrying so that worries will not creep into your head when you don’t want them to, causing disruption to your life. Setting it in the day will be helpful as you can be vulnerable at night. You can also create zones dedicated to worrying where you are allowed and not allowed to worry. This will stop the worrying for spreading and allow you to tackle each worry as a problem to solve.
All in all, anxiety is an emotion that we faced everyday. But never let it sabotage your life. All the best!
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” - Nelson Mandela