Overcoming COVID-19 Anxiety
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
by Talita Setyadi
The only word in everyone’s mind lately, is Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our everyday routines, schools, businesses and the world as we knew it came to a screeching halt, all for this enigmatic, invisible adversary we do not entirely understand. Anxiety ends up being the most common reaction the world has towards this problem. This emotion - biproduct of fear paired with uncertainty, has the power that overtakes our rationality and bring tension and panic into our lives. It can lead us into making illogical decisions and propel us into negative reinforcement loops that keep us in its panicked grasp.
So, what is anxiety, and how can we overcome it? How can we consciously find the balance point between complete alarmism and ignorant nonchalance during this atypical occurrence? What is the most conducive use of our intellect during this lockdown, and how can we get back our calm and clarity? So, let’s unpack anxiety together and understand why we can have this very natural fear response.
Throughout times of anxiety, our flight or fight survival response is triggered. Worry makes our prefrontal cortex go offline, and it becomes harder to think logically and have clarity in our minds. It is too easy to catastrophise and ruminate in our own concerns, especially when we become influenced by those with defeatist perspectives. To find peace in these times, we have to condition ourselves to be okay with uncertainties, and to be comfortable with change. Even when it seems like our outer world seems to be coming undone, we will benefit from getting in touch with our inner harmony.
There is truly no better time than now, to come to awareness with the irrationality of our fear-based emotions. Worry only gives the illusion that we are doing something useful and that we are in control. The thought of “trusting the process” and “surrendering” troubles many, as they mistake it for “giving up” and “not doing their best”. But it’s time humanity wakes up to the fact that all anxiety really does is distract us from the truth. We could benefit from to channelling our energy and thoughts into doing something that really matters; to be part of the solution and not stew in the problem.
It’s time we recognize that crises create character. And that crises generate opportunities for us to grow and to change. We’ve gotten so comfortable with our previous routines and habits that the thoughts of changing perhaps send shivers down our spines. Dear friends, do not underestimate our resiliency. Our parents and grandparents went through world wars, poverty and hardships, and lived to see another day. Psychological studies have shown time and time again that we tend to overestimate how badly we’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well we’ll cope with and adjust to difficulties. Be mindful that we are more adaptable than we think, this will help to further attenuate our fears.
So let us accept our anxiety, and not judge ourselves for having it. It is a natural evolutionary process that all humans go through after all. Instead, ask yourself: “what is my anxiety trying to tell me”? “What hidden fears of mine does it elude to”? Realize the strength in surrender, and the wisdom in trust and that we are always loved and protected by a greater power. The world is going through a magnificent shift, and it’s our choice to go along for the ride, or be left behind.
When we take action and help those around us, ensure that it does not originate from a place of fear, but out of love. Call our loved ones, share positive thoughts, share supplies, enact safety measures in your workplace and in your routines as to be vigilant with the risks around us, but let us do so with calm and clarity. Do not let fear have the better of us. Breathe, smile and have compassion for yourself and those around you. While we are here in lockdown, take time to do what you love, and to practice introspection and self-care. Together, we can spread calm as the new contagion instead of fear.