The one thing bonding many of us together right now is anxiety. Fear about the pandemic, the economy, politics, social justice or climate change. So much big, important stuff. So much unknown. Any one of these by itself is enough. For many of us, we worry about all of them. Yet in order to not lose our mind or create more stress for ourselves, we need to find ways to get grounded, stay healthier and calmer, and find healthy ways to cope. Here are a few that come to my mind:
Focus on What You Can Actually Control: By this I mean what you can Really Control. Which is only YOU. I know, I know, but what about ________________ out there. It’s awful, it’s scary, and it’s important and it needs to change you say. It does, but what can you specifically do today to impact it? If there is, then do it. If not, send good intentions out into the universe and bring the focus back to you. One thought I always find helpful is to think about ways at least I am not a part of the problem, even if I don’t have the power to solve it. Being mindful of my behaviors is something I CAN change, and even though I am one person, who knows what impact I may have? I may be kind to someone on a day they plan to end it. Or my kindness and caring can spur others to do big, caring things that move the needle.
Focus on What’s Most Important Right Now. Yes, I know. It’s All Important. But when we can get our priorities in order – like are our top three – I think we move into a place of choice and out of so much fear. If your top three are family, work, then community, it will help guide where you focus your time and energy today. Every day can be different too…perhaps today was the day you had a lot going on at work. But if your young daughter woke up feeling well, you might tend to her first before you focus elsewhere. We are constantly sifting and sorting to see what matters most right now in this moment, and what are the compromises we must make in order to honor this. I think we are always making these choices, but when we aren’t cognizant, we may just focus on fear instead of our internal guide. When you become more mindful and intentional of what your priorities are and WHY, it will help greatly when you are trying to choose what’s best today and feel good about it.
Practice Self-Care. I know you keep hearing this, but let’s talk about why this matters when you are feeling stressed. When we are not taking care of ourselves, we create more anxiety. We aren’t rested, eating well, or taking down time. Maybe we’re not practicing the other part of self-care which includes taking care of things in a timely manner, so now we have some chaos happening. So we are tired, stressed out, resentful and now in fear because the car that never was serviced was acting up. Lack of self-care can create the ripple that goes far and wide. This also means the long-term effects on our health and our relationships.
Now of course there are a million other ways to refocus your energies when life is difficult and the unknown brings lots of fear. Setting boundaries for yourself like the ones mentioned here can be a place to start. I hope that you can begin or continue practicing something or some things this week so you can feel more glued together. That matters, because here’s the thing…if we’re a mess and cannot therefore do anything in the future when we NEED to, such as speak out or vote or volunteer, what good is that?