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Managing Anxiety in an Ongoing Global Pandemic

As we approach August, it’s becoming clear the COVID-19 pandemic is not ending anytime soon. Adjusting to our new normal can be incredibly difficult leading to increased levels of anxiety and difficulty maintaining focus. For individuals in a position of power or leadership, within their companies or homes, this can cause difficulty dealing with the ongoing changes as a result of COVID-19 and the normal day-to-day changes. The longer we remain in a heightened state of stress/anxiety, the more likely we are to begin focusing on the wrong and less effective things. It’s completely normal to begin taking action to decrease our anxiety and help relieve the stress/pressure in the short-term without being able to view the big picture. It’s easy to fall back on past experiences instead of focusing on the specific situation we’re dealing with now and acting based on the present reality. It’s important to take the time to reflect, consult, and think through decisions despite the instinct to relieve our discomfort by making quick, impulsive decisions. Below are ways to manage our impulsivity and pause to come to a well thought out decision. 

Take Your Time

Whatever position we may hold within our place of work or our homes, we frequently feel the need/urgency to make decisions quickly. When presented with a problem it makes complete sense to want to solve the problem as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, while urgency can propel things forward, it can also cause decisions to be made that are ineffective or even destructive. Allowing yourself to take the time to process things, consult with others, and think through the pros, cons, and potential consequences of different decisions can allow things to play out in a more beneficial, productive way. 

Ground Yourself

It’s very hard to make unbiased, objective decisions when our own feelings and perceptions of the situation cloud our judgement. This issue is very present at this time due to the continuation of Coronavirus. In order to clear our minds, practicing mindfulness and taking the time to get grounded can make a big difference. Making sure you’re fully present in your body and mind is vital before making a decision. Calming your senses and slowing your breathing can help slow your thoughts in order to think clearly and effectively.  

Observe Your Emotions

It’s beneficial to externalize your emotions in order to observe and understand them. Just because you’re having anxious feelings doesn’t mean you are anxious. The first is a feeling you’re having and the second makes the feeling an aspect of your identity. When you externalize your emotions by identifying them as things you’re feeling and not something that defines you, it allows you to observe them, place them to the side, and acknowledge you will come back and process them later. 

Break it Down

Dealing with a task or issue can feel overwhelming if it feels too big to handle. Taking something on your list and breaking it down into small actionable steps is a great way to make what you need to do more digestible and easier to process. Are there small steps that you can take to move you towards a solution? If there are, that’s a great place to start. Also, look around you and acknowledge and utilize the people around you. They’re there for you to rely on when needed. 

We are all working through uncharted territory which can be scary and unsettling for many people. Taking the time to feel things out, utilize trial and error, and spending time talking to others can be very beneficial. There is no past precedent that has been set for how to handle the circumstances we’re now in. While that can be scary, I encourage all of us to look at it as an exciting opportunity, as we get to decide on our own what our life/responses look like moving forward. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling with anxiety, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our licensed therapists for in-office therapy or online counseling in Chicago.

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