Quarantines, travel restrictions, remote work (with children underfoot), isolation, and financial loss due to cancellations, reduced hours, or the stock market all contribute to individuals feeling a lack of control. A lack of control increases stress, worry, and anxiety because you feel you don’t have the resources to handle what’s in front of you – whether that’s money, skills, support, energy, or time.
Since uncertainty also causes more attention to be paid to concerns, eliminate the pressure and panic now by taking control or letting it go! Next time you experience your heart pounding, rapid breathing, or fantasize about screaming at someone with good cause, pause. Breathe in, breathe out, and ask, “Is this IN or OUT of my control?”
Why? A powerful first step to dealing with stress is identifying the source because the source determines the best strategy. Again, “Is this (source) IN or OUR of your control?”
If the answer is IN your control, take control because action is the antidote to worry, anxiety and stress. Making decisions and stepping into solutions reduces worry and anxiety. In other words, turn towards, rather than away, from the situation. This is not the time to procrastinate, sit, or stew. It’s time to do. Here’s why. When we step towards the source of our anxiety, it lessens. When we move away, it grows. Minimize the moment between your first stressful thought or feeling and your first action towards a result.
An excellent follow-up question to ask: What is the smallest action I can take right now that will have the biggest impact?
For example, rather than invest mind time about the possibility of catching COVID-19, educate yourself through reliable sources such as Mayo Clinic. Refrain from watching repetitive news channels predicting gloom and doom and get your updates online. Concerned your business may take a financial hit? Reach out to your best customers to connect, listen to their concerns, and provide support, if possible. Concerned about financial loss? Identify all sources of income/expenses and create a realistic budget. Organize closets and sell unused items through online sites or consignment stores. The sooner you take even a baby step toward the issue, the more you will feel back in control which is the ultimate goal.
If the answer is OUT of your control, let it go! Yes, the current state of the COVID-19 world disrupts your patterns, practices, and people nearby or far away. Yet, you can only control what you can control. No matter how much autonomy you demand. No matter how much you desire to support, serve or be surrounded by others.
Listen, the truth is life is messy and currently downright dirty. Even still, your mind can only hold one thought at a time and every moment of every day you get to decide what thought to hold. You can spend energy on why you don’t control the universe and everything that goes on in it, or you can recognize you can only control you.
Stressing about your current situation isn’t going to make it go away, stay away, or prevent it from coming back another day. Worrying about life outside your control doesn’t change anything but YOU! Side effects include headaches, high blood pressure, heart attacks, indigestion, depression, diabetes, back aches, and sleep problems to name a few.
Stop yourself from catastrophizing the worst possible scenarios and ask, “Based on prior circumstances, what do I believe will actually happen?” Visualize the best outcome based on your history and wisdom. When you catch yourself in a negative thought pattern, create a pattern interrupted by shaking your body like a dog after a bath, clapping your hands, or mentally saying, “stop”. Replace the thought with a vision or mantra that brings you peace such as, “All is well in my world. This too shall pass.”
Remember, don’t let the things you can’t do interfere with the things you can do. Take control or let it go.
Please let me know how you’re coping and staying connected through this challenging time.