Managing your worrying during Covid-19
We have no control over many of the things that happen in our life. Never before has this been more true……
A resistance to this fact may induce in us controlling behaviours such as micromanaging - a refusal to delegate tasks, and trying to force other people to change. We might be holding the idea that if we gain enough control over other people or situations, then we might just be able to prevent bad things from happening. In certain cases this might actually be true although it probably has more to do with being prepared than holding control per se.
Or, it might be that we are indeed accepting of this fact, but worry incessantly anyway, fretting about everything from natural disasters to deadly diseases. Being tied up in theses worries is ultimately a waste of our time and energy since worrying can’t change the outcome in any way.
Consider these six points instead, as they might help you to re-frame
your problems and reduce your worrying:
1. What is within your control?
Examine what you do have control over next time you find yourself worrying. You can't prevent a pandemic, but you can prepare for it in certain ways. You can't control the impact of the pandemic, but you can control how you react to it.
Recognize that, often, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. Diverting your energy into the things you can control will give you some agency (personal power) and make you far more effective.
2. Focus on your influence
Having influence requires us to change our own behaviour by being good role models and setting healthy boundaries for ourselves. Thus, we may be able to influence people and circumstances, but can't force things to go our way. You might be observing social distancing rules, but that does not necessarily mean everybody else will.
3. Identify your fears
What are you afraid might happen? What catastrophic outcome are you
predicting? Do you doubt you will be able to cope? Sometimes we are so busy
thinking things like "I can't allow my business to fail" that we
don't take the time to consider, "What would I do if my business did fail?"
It can be very helpful drilling right down to the worst-case scenario and
acknowledging that you will be ok, despite it being very difficult. It can help
you put your energy into more productive exercises like getting yourself
More often than not, the worst-case scenario isn't as catastrophic as you might envision and there's a good chance you're stronger than you think!!
4. Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving
Replaying conversations in our head, or imagining catastrophic outcomes over and over again isn't helpful. But solving a problem is. Consider whether your thinking is productive - are you actively solving a problem, trying to find ways to increase your chances of success? Keep working on solutions. However, if you're ruminating, try to switch channels in your brain. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren't being helpful at the moment, and get up to go and do something else for a bit, focussing your brain on something more productive.
5. Make a plan to manage stress
Managing our stress is super important as it allows us to operate more
efficiently. Exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep are essential
to managing our stress. Some other healthy stress relievers may include meditation/prayer, an engaging hobby,
or time with friends.
Be mindful of stress levels in your body, and notice how you cope with distress. Try to avoid unhealthy coping strategies like complaining to others or drinking too much – these will only cause you more stress in the long run!
6. Develop healthy affirmations
You might be thinking: what an old cliché!...... but the words we use have an enormous impact on us unconsciously, so pay attention to what you tell yourself and use positive words that instil a sense of capability, such as: ‘I am enough’, ‘I am OK’, ‘I will cope’. A few healthy mantras will keep you mentally strong, combatting self-doubt, catastrophic predictions, and endless rumination. Do what you can to make it happen or deal with the things you have no control over.
So you’ve tried these techniques and find you’ve been able to manage your worrying during the day…. Bravo! You lie yourself down in bed and as you sink your weary head into your soft pillow, and there it is! Sound familiar? Worrying has a way of sneaking up on us just as we are trying to go to sleep. If you find yourself in this position you could try some breathing exercises to help relax you, diverting your thoughts to your breathing and away from your problems. Alternatively there are some great apps like Headspace and Calm to help you practice some mindfulness.
And finally, talking (not complaining) to someone can help reduce your worrying. Getting another perspective, whether it’s over a cup of coffee with a friend you trust, or some counselling if your problem is more serious, can be very helpful and grounding, allowing you to find solutions instead of just worrying.