One of the reasons so many mental health conditions are known as a type of disorder is because they are when life seems to have gone out of order. Everything seems chaotic – and we don’t know what to do.
For many people, this chaos in life can seem to be never-ending. That is unless they seek help from a professional therapist who helps them understand why it’s happening.
Then the person can be guided back towards a life that is in order once more.
None of this is new. People have been telling and writing stories about humanity’s battle to retain or regain order since time began.
Sometimes this is due to our internal patterns of thinking and responding to various aspects of life. At other times, some sort of chaos is thrown upon us.
This could be the uncertainty that comes from such as losing a job, a relationship break-up, a serious illness or accident or a bereavement. Or it could be something that has never happened in our lifetime, as is happening around the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has thrown everyone into an era of uncertainty. Despite predictions, no one can definitively say when or how this will all end.
We are understandably worried for the future about such as our businesses, jobs, finances, homes and our children’s education. There is no direct experience for any of us to base this on – and it all seems so uncertain.
Then, people are worried about catching the virus and some in certain groups due to an existing health condition or their age are particularly concerned. Or we are anxious about these people if they are someone we care about.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
These feelings of uncertainty are really a form of anxiety. We all have some anxiety – it’s an emotion that’s needed to help us stay alive.
For instance, if you’re walking near a big drop it’s useful to feel some anxiety. It causes us to focus.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease about something with an outcome that’s not certain. This can clearly apply to many things in life.
But anxiety can become so incessant and severe that it’s defined as a serious mental health condition. It can debilitate someone from living a normal life on a daily basis.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition diagnosed in people who are constantly anxious about a range of life events and situations.
People with their own business or who are executives are particularly prone to such as GAD. This is because they frequently have to make big decisions that have a bearing on many other people and other businesses.
They need to be looking ahead to prepare, for example, to meet future markets. Consequently they will have to consider worst-case scenarios. This can also lead to executive burnout.
In a time like this with increased uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 virus it intensifies the importance of making the right choices. Anxiety and stress levels can go to new levels.
So it’s vital to know the major signs of anxiety. These include:
- Panic attacks, including breathlessness.
- Dizziness and/or faintness.
- Concentration difficulties.
- Feeling restless, irritable and discontent most of the time.
- Insomnia or sleeping problems.
The best ways to beat uncertainty & anxiety
Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön, originally from New York and the author of several books including When Things Fall Apart, says about uncertainty:
“Rather than being disheartened by the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it?”
It’s excellent advice.
But most likely it’s difficult for most people who haven’t spent years gaining spiritual growth as a Buddhist. That’s not to say we should not keep it in mind and try to aim towards it.
There are also some other positive things that anyone can do right now.
- Meditate, particularly first thing in the morning and then again before bedtime.
- Write a gratitude list every morning after waking up. Anxiety cannot sit easily next to gratitude, which is why grateful people are less anxious.
- Focus on just one day at a time. Mindfulness and being in the now are hugely beneficial.
- Get into the great outdoors. The stillness and quietness will spread into you.
- Quit smoking.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, including tea, coffee and energy drinks.
- Do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week.
- Watch comedy.
- Read a book.
- Do regular yoga sessions.
- Stroke a cat or dog or other friendly animal. It gets our feel-good chemicals flowing.
- Be conscious of your breathing. Keep it slow and steady.
- Be kind. If you do something kind for someone else it will take you away from any anxious thoughts going on in your mind. It will leave you feeling more positive.
- Stay connected. If you spend lots of time alone there is more chance of anxiety spiralling up. People suffering from such as GAD often think they are the only ones with those problems of uncertainty. It’s one reason why group therapy as we practise at White River is so beneficial.
It’s also useful to know that uncertainty – although more prevalent than usual at present – is part of life.
In fact, if we could always predict or know the future it would make life quite boring!
It’s good to know too that in these sort of uncertain times we can grow the most. As psychologist Susan Jeffers, author of Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, said:
“Each time you have the opportunity to stretch your capacity to handle the world, the more powerful you become.”
“This too shall pass” is another useful phrase to recall next time you catch yourself feeling anxious about the uncertainty ahead. It’s a truth for every emotion and situation in life.
Remember as well that people can often find energy that we didn’t know was there, because we didn’t need to previously dig for it. But we are – in almost every instance – stronger than we think.
Contact us today to talk about how we can help you or someone you care about to deal with anxiety and uncertainty in a positive way.