Anxiety in Uncertain Times

Full from Video Transcript Below

So these are very strange days, for us all. Every day, something different seems to be happening and there is an awful lot of uncertainty at the moment. Anxiety in uncertain times. Right now, I’m working from a small room at the back of my house. I do have a nice view – I can see the sky and my life has been located to here in terms of work.

And so for us all, we’re trying to come to terms with this change in reality. This reality may be temporary, but nonetheless, it’s uncertain at the moment. So it’s understandable that we can feel quite a lot of anxiety. Certainly for me, that anxiety has been noticeable in terms of worrying about the future, wondering what’s going to happen, trying to make predictions, reading and watching lots of news reports and social media discussions. And I’ve been becoming aware that it’s having a negative effect on my mental well being. So I’ve been really trying to work on creating a distance, having a space away from that during the day. I still want to watch the news, I think that’s important for me. But I need to be able to find a space whereby it’s not COVID-19 all the time. And so this vlog came, in part, because I was going to write a blog about anxiety during these uncertain times but I thought a vlog was good because of this idea of social connection. We’re being told to create distance from one another but we need to make connection more than ever now and that’s through online means and we need to really utilize that – And I certainly do! We need to make connections and to keep those connections alive. They’ve become more important than ever. That human connection seems to be key. So I want to talk to you about a few things that I’ve been finding useful for myself that you might find useful too.

Focus on the Moment

One of these things is to really try to focus in on the moment. Right now. And we talk about it, you know, here and now. But more than ever, when we have lots of uncertainty, what we can know is, right at this moment in time, right this second, I’m okay and that can really help with anxiety. That is all we have because five minutes time hasn’t occurred yet, it hasn’t happened. The future hasn’t happened. The future just keeps happening as we go on in the present moment. So if we can spend time really helping ourselves, that can be helpful for anxiety. That can be some grounding techniques. For me, I find it very useful is literally just sitting in a chair, and putting my feet on the ground and I feel my feet and I literally I bring my energy and my attention in to my feet. I notice them, I notice them on the ground and I start paying attention to the sound of my feet. I start paying attention to the the way both of my feet feel different on the ground and then I might notice myself sitting in the chair and really feeling the chair supporting me. And spending five to ten minutes just being really present with myself sitting in the chair, really present to what my feet feel like, maybe noticing my breath also. We call that mindfulness practice but really, in a way, it’s quite simply staying present to the very present moment. And right now, particularly for me, attending to the present moment is really important I think for managing anxiety.

I have been working with clients online in a small room at the back of my house during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting Lost in Something (Flow)

The other thing that I think that is really important is to find something that you can get lost in: a good book, a hobby or a project. There is some really interesting research around this idea of Flow and it’s this idea that if we can find ourselves doing something that takes our attention, that we have to attend to (not something too complicated that it’s too hard to follow and not something too easy, but something that gives us a slight challenge) and we can focus our attention on that. Research suggest that this can have a positive influence on our anxiety levels and makes us feel less anxious. It is here that Csikszentmihályi introduces this idea of Flow. So finding something that we can concentrate. That can be knitting, I know for some people, that are friends of mine, they are avid knitters. It could be writing. It could be something that I can attend to, that I can connect with and that matters to me. For some of us it can be listening to music. The research suggests that things like watching TV doesn’t really help in terms of Flow but certainly playing a game could be useful, doing some gardening, getting lost in gardening work. Even painting the house. There are many number of things. Again, none of those things appeal to me but I do have a guitar that I’m trying to learn at the moment.

So really I just wanted to say to you all that these are really uncertain times and we are all trying to come to terms with a very different reality. And hopefully some of the things I have said can help manage that anxiety in uncertain times.

Physical Exercise

The other thing is physical exercise. Exercise is a very important one. However, we really need to pay attention to social distancing. So, if it’s going for a walk, go somewhere quiet. Personally for me, it wouldn’t do my anxiety levels any good at all to go somewhere busy so I try and go somewhere quiet, even going out to the garden and doing a workout, stretching. Anything like that can help me become more present in myself.

I’m going to be doing more vlogs. I’m going to be doing one on searching for meaning in time of uncertainty. Today is my first one. Apologies for going off a little bit and getting lost in my words but bear with me and thank you for listening. Remeber, you are not alone if you have felt anxiety in uncertain times.

Stay safe – Chris