What worries you most about the virus? Take a moment to think about it. I’m certain that your mind immediately filled with concerns about health, money, boredom, employment – a whole host of worries waiting there on standby to flood in on request. Anxiety and fear that pours into your mind as easily as water from a tap.
Disruption and fear
We are living in a time of unprecedented disruption and fear for all but the oldest amongst us. Most of us have never experienced the upheaval of a World War, and that’s the closest event this experience can be compared to apparently.
This means fear and worry are abundant. And the scary thing is that worry can dictate how we feel, how we interact with others and even affect our immune system.
Worry is like a disease in itself. It infects us all and changes our approach to life.
But unlike COVID-19, we have a choice when it comes to allowing worry to infect us and take over our lives. We can choose a different outcome, we can take a different approach.
In it together
Now don’t get me wrong, I worry just like everyone else, but I worry less than I once did and I am now aware enough to be able to drag my mind away from worry when it crops up. I realised a couple of years ago that worry was a total waste of my time. Literally. It struck me that I could spend a whole day worrying about something with all my might, giving it every single ounce of my effort and concentration, and yet I could not control the outcome of what I was worried about.
Think about it – imagine there is an event that you are dreading that takes place in a few weeks time. Imagine yourself as two people. The first You spends all of those weeks worried sick, stressed and anxious about the event, losing sleep and becoming more and more fearful as the event draws closer.
Now imagine the second You – this time, you recognise that the event is approaching but you decide to put it out of your mind and not worry about it. You have a great few weeks enjoying yourself and sleeping well.
Now imagine both of these You’s arriving at the event. The first You arrives feeling exhausted and over-wrought, and the event unfolds as it was always going to do.
The second You arrives at the event feeling a little unsettled but alert and awake. Again, the event unfolds as it was always going to do.
All of that worrying that the first You did had zero impact on the event but exhausted you and ruined all those weeks before….the second You fared much better.
Worry will only ever hurt you
As recent weeks have shown, worry can cause untold chaos when the worry is shared by millions. Worry creates fear which in turn creates panic – and there you have the reason behind a nation-wide rush for toilet roll, pasta and now, pretty much everything in the shop!
Worrying won’t stop you getting COVID-19. It won’t stop the people you love getting COVID-19. It won’t save your job, pay your mortgage or deliver your food shopping to the front door.
What it will do is distract you, disrupt your behaviour and impact how you relate to the people you are probably worrying about. It will cause you to lose sleep, make bad food choices, forget to wash your hands and release something called Cortisol into your blood stream, which lowers your immune response.
So what’s the answer?
My advice is to focus on this moment. This moment now. As you are reading this. Now. Breathe in and feel the air as it travels into your chest. Tell yourself that you can control now. You can control this moment, and every moment that you are in….but only when you are in it. Take every moment as it unfolds. Do your best in that moment and you will be protecting yourself in more ways than you can imagine.
Understand that the present moment is all you can control, Use it to make good decisions now. Focus on what you have now.
This focus will keep you safe far more effectively than allowing your mind to act out an untold number of imagined doomsday scenarios, over which you have no control.
Worrying is as disruptive as the virus. But unlike the virus, you can control it. Decide to try and see what a difference it can make to how this situation feels.
And if you need more support to manage your worrying, reach out. Let’s talk.