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Where once we could be sure of a particular direction we were going in or making plans ahead, the threat of Covid-19 infection has put paid to any certainty and has shaken things up across the board, from our intimate relationships to the way we live our lives.  For many, this has brought up a lot of anxiety, particularly for those who are used to a regimented routine.

We have been forced into a new way of living but that doesn’t mean to say it is unwelcome.  Many things can be blessings in disguise allowing us to try out new ways of being rather than being stuck in old and familiar ruts and routines that perhaps have outlived their usefulness.

For many, trying something new triggers a fear of change – especially in our twilight years.  There is a reluctance to changing tried and tested routines that take us away from comfort and familiarity which offer us a modicum of security in a somewhat turbulent and fast-changing world.

One thing is certain, however.  We are now living in an unprecedented time where social norms are changing by the day, economies are struggling and guidelines and boundaries are shifting like sands in a desert storm.  Who knows what next week or the week after will bring as we glide from one global event to another?

This alone brings up a lot of anxiety as we can feel out of control, but there are ways we can deal with this successfully to help us through it:

  1. Recognise we have no control over world events but we do have control over our reaction to them. We also have control over our immediate environment so switching off the news, if it is making you anxious, is a great place to start as it is invariably filled and chosen with items that lure people in to watch.  We don’t have to watch it.  That is a choice.
  2. It’s ok to be scared or feel vulnerable. It’s perfectly understandable.  These are uncertain times.  Tell someone about it rather than letting it fester inside.  Feeling vulnerable can be very scary and sometimes all we need is a friendly ear or a hug to feel better about it all.
  3. Acknowledge that everything is in transition. “This too shall pass!”  These events like Covid-19 are temporary.  Everything in life is a process and we are moving on from this.
  4. Find ways to feel more in control in your life. No matter what the regulations may be or what happens, find ways to take ownership of it by shifting your perspective about it.  Rather than feeling threatened by a change, embrace it as if you had chosen it yourself.  That will make you feel a lot more empowered and a lot less anxious.
  5. Find ways to get your stress levels down by doing things you enjoy or occupying your mind with other interests that are constructive and creative. Shifting your mind out of worry and into a creative mindset can significantly change your energy.
  6. Breathe! When we get anxious we don’t breathe properly.  Our breath becomes shallow and rapid.  Focus breathing slowly and deliberately from the belly, with the belly moving in and out, filling the lungs with air properly.  This is very calming.
  7. Be thankful for all the incredible things in your life, from the flowers, to your home, people, places, health, and so on. The more you experience gratitude, the more you notice.  As your focus shifts from doom and gloom to one of creativity and humility, so you find more things in your life to be thankful for.

As published in the Advertiser and Times, August 2020 by Caroline Cousins