Four Steps to Managing Anxiety During COVID
We are all worn out.
We are struggling to manage our emotions in a world out of our control. We are feeling fear, anger, confusion, and just plain exhaustion. Lead counselor Beth Pfitzenmaier shares four ways to navigate your emotions and uncomfortable feelings.
We all experience uncomfortable, unpleasant, and undesirable feelings from time to time. It’s a normal, natural part of being alive. Not every moment can be full of joy or pleasure; we need the dark to appreciate the light.
Every feeling is meant to be felt and to be experienced. For many of us, the tendency is to push these uncomfortable feelings away; to escape from them, or to numb ourselves. And as many of us have discovered over and over again–this does not work.
For many of us, the tendency is to push these uncomfortable feelings away; to escape from them, or to numb ourselves. And as many of us have discovered over and over again—this does not work.
Are you ready to try something different?
Here are some tips based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, an evidence-based practice used at SouthLight.
1. Become Aware
Take a moment to notice your experience in the present moment. As you observe your inner world of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, do so with a sense of kind curiosity.
What do you notice?
What is happening inside of you?
If you are able and if it feels helpful you may wish to name or identify the feeling.
As you continue to observe, you may begin to become aware that this feeling shifts and changes from moment to moment. Maybe you notice changes in intensity or maybe you notice the feeling moving into a different place in your body.
These may be big shifts and changes or smaller, more subtle ones. Everything inside of us and in the world around us is always changing; ebb and flow, start and stop, rise and fall. This is the nature of how things are.
2. Gain Perspective
The essence of who you are or who you are at the core of your Self is bigger, deeper, wider, and more expansive than the feelings you experience. You are the sky and the feelings are the clouds. While this rainstorm feels big and intense and like it will last forever, it won’t.
The invitation is to experiment with shifting your perspective to recognize that these feelings will come and go and that these feelings are just one part of the present moment—not the entire moment itself. The sky is so much bigger than the clouds.
3. Practice Acceptance
Acceptance does not mean that we like the feeling or want it to be there; acceptance is simply an acknowledgment that it is happening. Remind yourself that these feelings are natural and allowed. You are absolutely allowed to be sad, scared, angry, worried, fearful, resentful, or uncertain. If you want, this may be an opportunity to take your kind curiosity to the next level.
- What’s at the root of this feeling?
- What it is trying to show you?
- What you can learn from it?
We can choose to struggle with the feelings or we can choose to make space for them in our lives which frees us up to focus on what we do have control over: our actions.
These are strange times we’re living in and there is a lot we cannot control. There is nothing we can do to eliminate these feelings from our life. We can choose to struggle with the feelings or we can choose to make space for them in our lives which frees us up to focus on what we do have control over: our actions.
4. Take Action
Take a moment to connect with what matters to you in your heart.
- What kind of life do you want to have?
- What kind of person do you want to be?
- Would you like to have a life of connection, adventure, or courage?
- Would you like to be a person who behaves with compassion, integrity, or discipline?
DO THAT NOW. Live that way now. Take a baby step in that direction.
In each moment you have a choice—do you take action by moving toward your anger or fear or do you take action to move toward kindness and hope? When you move toward fear, you move away from hope.
You get to choose, you are the creator. Over and over every day you get to choose. You can choose to be positive when faced with negativity, you can choose to have faith when you are afraid, you can choose to be kind when it’s tempting to be rude. None of us choose “right” all the time.
You can choose to be positive when faced with negativity, you can choose to have faith when you are afraid, you can choose to be kind when it’s tempting to be rude.
Reconnect with that sense of kind curiosity when reflecting on your choices and remember that you will be presented with an opportunity to choose again in the very next moment.
By Beth Pfitzenmaier, MS, LCAS, RYT-200
SouthLight Program Manager, Adult Outpatient Services
Learn more about SouthLight’s Adult Outpatient and Community-Based Services. About Beth: I value authenticity, courage, vulnerability, growth, and connection. I work in the Intensive Outpatient Program at SouthLight and I help adults in early recovery from substance use transform their lives and relationships and learn skills that move them towards independence, stability, and flexibility. I recently completed yoga teacher training and am now a certified yoga teacher. I look forward to being able to more fully incorporate yoga into my work with the people I serve.
When you're ready, we're here for you.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health or substance use, call SouthLight.
Call (919) 787-6131