As if people didn’t already have enough to worry about in their lives, adding a global pandemic into the mix is a sure-fire way to turn even the sanest person into a dizzying worry wort.
So what are the pros and cons of worrying? Is there such a thing as a healthy amount of worry? Or can too much worrying actually make you sick?
We are living in somewhat unprecedented times. This may not be the first global disaster to ever happen, but undeniably it is one every single person on this planet has been personally affected by in some way or another.
Humanity is in a perpetual state of avoiding catastrophe it seems, and on an individual level, this can create a disproportionate sense of unease. This type of large scale uncertainty has disrupted so many of our plans and can really make a person feel hindered in their ability to position themselves for a better foreseeable future.
So how can you identify the signs and symptoms of excessive worrying during a global pandemic? How can you differentiate what a normal amount of concern truly is, considering the circumstances, from spiralling out of control?
“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen” – Robert Downey, Jr.
This is by far one of my favourite quotes to help ease my mind when I catch myself caught up in a big ole bag of worry balls. The reason why I love this so much is that it reminds me of how powerful the human mind really is.
Staying informed and staying healthy therein lies a rather concerning disconnect. There’s definitely a visible spectrum of reactive vs responsive behaviour playing out and you can easily tell who’s keeping it together and who’s losing it a little or a lot. For instance, recall the toilet paper fiasco… Someone who would exude self-control over their concern for the looming downfall would have purchased a sensible amount of toilet paper for themselves rather than fist fighting a stranger in the isles of Walmart over a single roll.
But all jokes aside, when worrying becomes excessive it can lead to high levels of anxiety and even make a person become physically ill. These high levels of anxiety cause the body to go into fight or flight mode, increasing levels of cortisol and decreasing the ability to focus on reality and make rational decisions. Hence, toilet paper fiasco.
Some worrying to a degree is natural and may even be cathartic. If managed effectively this type of energy can actually be harnessed to initiate action and create necessary change and allow for clearer thinking.
For example, you may have a runny nose and be worried about getting sick. You could react by allowing your mind to go to all the dark recesses imaginable or you could respond by simply listening to your bodies naturally intelligent alarm system.
Instead of panicking or completely avoiding this awareness and running to the nearest Walmart to buy out an entire shelf of toilet paper, you could take a deep breath, acknowledge the awareness that something is off, and initiate the appropriate action and call 811 and take things one step at a time from there.
Breaking things down into manageable tasks instead of letting your mind wander into an abyss of negative “what if’s” is so crucial when faced with any challenging situation. Shifting your focus onto WHAT YOU DO WANT not what you don’t want is the KEY.
Shifting your focus onto your realm of influence is so important when you notice anxiety starting to creep up. According to Stephen R. Covey, the author of “The 7 habits of highly effective people”…Your realm of influence consists of the controllable variables in your life, the things you can do something about.
What you want to avoid isn’t the problem you are being faced with instead you want to avoid your realm of concern, those things that you don’t have any control over.
For example, you could perpetuate your worried mind and kick your stress levels up by watching too much negative media, by focusing all of your attention on things you don’t want to happen can actually create a physiological reaction in your body.
See reactive people focus their efforts on the weakness of others, problems in their environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Proactive people focus their time and energy on taking initiative necessary to effect positive change.
Determinism is a basic paradigm and the spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. Reactive people abdicate their feelings to have control over their free will. Instead, choosing to believe you are the master of your destiny instead of the victim of your own self-fulfilling prophecy is a powerful practice.
Creativity is the exact opposite of stress and according to Deepak Chopra ” Stress is the number one misuse of our imagination”. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent organisms designed to create warning signs when something is off balance. Learning how to identify and differentiate signs and symptoms is an effective tool allowing you to create deeper awareness, relax, be mindful and develop more effective ways of thinking so you can take charge of anxiety instead of letting catastrophic thinking get in the way of your life.
At the very core of our existence is our health, it is the hub that all other aspects of life rely on. Without it, our intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, career, relationships, quality of and vision for LIFE can fall out of balance. It is the one thing that supports all the rest. So how do we make it number one on the priority list?
There are seven pillars of good health to focus on to make all other areas of your life a little easier.
- Emotional Regulation: Talking to friends and family or journaling when you feel anxious or worried helps to regulate your emotions, and when your emotions are causing physical reaction or you feel you are not in control, you can speak to a psychologist and there’s even an app called MindShift CBT, it’s a proven mental health relief app that works to reduce anxiety and the best part… it’s free.
- Sleep- good sleep hygiene is so important. Using things like blue ray protective lenses when using computers and cell phones help to reduce anxiety. Not watching TV or using your devices the hour before you go to bed is incredibly helpful in getting deeper more restful sleep. Things like diffusing lavender essential oils can be helpful and even drinking tart cherry juice before bed helps to fight inflammation, its high in antioxidants and has naturally occurring melatonin to help you catch some Zs. My favourite is called Apothocherry by an organic plant-based superfood company called Purium, just mix one tablespoon with water and enjoy the perfect bedtime elixir. It’s also really important that you make sure you are getting enough full REM cycles and allowing yourself to wake up at the end of the REM cycle, not in the middle of deep sleep. Going to bed early enough to get 7- 9 hours of sleep important but so is how you wake up. You want to wake up slowly as you come out of a REM cycle rather than be woken alarmedly.
- Meditation- enough cannot be said about this powerful practice, just like you would take a shower in the morning to cleanse your body, this is a daily hygiene practice to purify your mind. Not only does meditation improve your focus and concentration, but it is also so helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. My favourite app is called Omvana and there are so many different meditation teachers featured on this platform with varying meditations and hypnosis on every aspect of life, from abundance to health to performance, this app has it all.
- Nutrition- you wouldn’t put diesel in a gas engine, so why put junk into your body. Proper nutrition is so supportive of your mental and physical well being, it’s a no brainer that quality of food you put into your body is the quality of energy and performance you will get out of your body. Or as Dave Sandoval would say ” the quality of your food equals the quality of your life”.
- Movement- is medicine, the human body is designed to move, and living a sedentary lifestyle is probably one of the most detrimental things you can do to yours. Getting outside in nature, grounding, walking, doing yoga, and working out are proven ways to help improve sleep, stamina, and strength and flexibility and helps to maintain mobility, so take advantage of the ability to move, not only is it good for your confidence and sex life, but it also releases all the feel-good hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.
- Relationships- connection and the deepening of our personal relationships also equal the quality of life we will live. Everything we do and achieve depends on our relationships with others. Having positive supportive relationships and people in your life that mentor, motivate and challenge you to be the best version of yourself is paramount. Having the ability to decipher who is toxic and how to let go of those relationships that do not serve you is also of equal importance.
- And lastly, you gotta laugh. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine.