I want to stress that in unusual times, our usual coping mechanisms may not be enough. I am feeling that now, today. The past two days, I’ve been trying to buoy myself up with my usuals: a heavy workload, music I like, stand-up comedy, yoga and gong baths. Nothing is taking. I awake today, a person who’s experiencing pain and anxiety.
When the coping mechanisms fail, it doesn’t mean that you failed. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that you’re encouraged to grow and try something new. I did not fail because “what usually works” failed to bolster me up. I am challenged to grow, try and experiment today, and that’s what I will do.
I need to tell you that I had a breakdown yesterday mid-I afternoon. I still managed to have a good day. That’s my new normal.
I have had to have medical intervention for my anxiety. It’s not just being a “worry wart”. It’s not being a pessimist. For me, anxiety is this fear of being unprepared–that the other shoe is going to drop, that the good won’t last long enough, that I could be blind-sided at any moment.
In a COVID-19-infected world, my anxiety has gone up, and I self-manage it the best I can.
Here’s what I know:
I never have been germ-phobic. I don’t think my worries about COVID are going to morph into a generalized germ phobia. So that’s win!
I have not always done well in crowds. People not maintaining a social distance is really irking me. That’s one of the things that triggered my breakdown yesterday while getting groceries.
As soon as I feel I’ve taken reasonable measures to protect myself, I feel better. For me, that’s keeping my mask on in public, disinfecting my grocery cart, wiping down my shoes and keys after going out, washing my hands a reasonable amount of times, and drinking hot herbal tea after outings. A feeling of safety and being able to protect myself helps ease the anxiety.
No amount of ruminating makes things better. There’s very little I could say or do this moment that would change anything. I can only change how I respond, if I respond at all. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing or to do less. It’s hard when you’ve built your identity around being a do-er or achiever. I’ve needed to pivot to how can I be helper, and more particularly, how can I best help myself–first?
If you’re going through this pandemic with anxiety, I feel ya. It’s not easy. It’s hard to have a siege mentality at the grocery store. It’s hard to watch people flout rules and guidelines. Help yourself by taking care of yourself as best you can, first.
I’ve been making light about the panic around toilet paper and other supplies on my other social channels, but I must admit, as a person who’s anxious, it was hard to keep things in perspective when out getting groceries today.
I am not a health professional, so please check all the tips I am about to give against your own common sense, life circumstances and the advice of your doctors, the CDC and your local governments.
Renew your prescriptions IF THEY ARE LOW. I have one medication that I take that has some serious withdrawal symptoms if I suddenly stop taking it. If that’s the case with your medication and you have a week’s worth or less, you may want to consider calling in your refill and picking it up.
Social distancing does NOT mean isolation. Facetime and Google Hangouts work. Reaching out doesn’t mean you have to be in the same room with someone. Reach out, especially to those who are vulnerable.
If you are out, be kind, polite and give people plenty of space. Our healthcare workers, grocery workers, retail workers and many others are seriously overburdened at this time. No yelling, shouting or snarky comments are going to make things any better. Stress ups our susceptibility to disease. Don’t stress yourself or others out. Smiling improves your health.
Get support if you are going through a hard time already. If you are struggling with addiction, there are support groups online too. If your usual meeting is canceled, Virtual meetings of AA, Al-Anon and CODA groups are happening all the time, all over the world, and you don’t have to leave your home. I also recommend Therapeer, an app. Join me on Therapeer to receive peer emotional support, and to support others in need. Follow this link to get your own private support room for free: https://www.therapeer.app/invite/xupg3
Try to keep up your healthy habits, even if your routines are disrupted. There’s a treasure trove of exercise and yoga classes on YouTube. It may help to keep up your morning routine even if you’re not commuting to work.
Many of us are news junkies. It is very important to keep up-to-date on what’s happening, but if you find the news is making you anxious, limit your time reading the news. Check in the morning, noon and night only, and for short, designated times. Consider a digital detox.
If you’re bored, try something new. Take an online class or take on a household project.
Meditate and rest. Can’t stress this enough. During today’s grocery store gauntlet, I had to stop and do a quick grounding meditation because I was so unnerved by how under-stocked the shelves were.
Focus on what IS going RIGHT. Be grateful when stores are still open. Say thank you to people working at this time, especially in customer service jobs.
Remember and remind yourself of what you can control…and what you can ‘t. You can control your attitude, your preparedness and your response to this situation as it unfolds. You cannot control others. You’re doing the best you can and that’s sometimes the only thing you can really do.
Laughter is great medicine. Watch a comedy or some stand-up on your TV. It’s for your health!
Too often, we are not in the present. We’re mining the middens of the past trying to explain away our bad feelings or bad behavior or we’re floating into painful projections of a future more akin to a post-apocalyptic world.
Lately, I’ve been dealing with my anxiety. Part of my job as a movie producer is to prevent potential problems with production and minimize liabilities as much as possible. My job is to look at a script and ask myself, “What could go wrong here,” and “Where is there a waste of money or other resources?”
Therefore, as part of being in a leadership position, I do have to put some mind-space in the future and the what-ifs. People count on me to anticipate and solve problems. And if I solve a problem that never grows into a full-blown “issue”, all the better! However, once it makes my heart race or prevents me from moving forward, I’ve started to go to:
Here. Now. Today.
Here–where I am–the space–my office, the coffee shop, etc.
Now–what am I doing in the now–data entry, memorizing, budgeting
Today–the actual date and time
Here. Now. Today.
I also have to accept there’s enough entropy that I won’t be able to anticipate all the issues. I recently toured a movie ranch that lost 20 structures in the last California wildfire. There’s no way anyone could have predicted that specific facility would have lost all those structures–iconic ones. There are limits to what we can foresee and anticipate, even if we have keen minds and heightened intuition.
If you’re feeling anxious, or are tasked with trying to lead a group, especially projecting the future, know that you can’t project or prognosticate everything. You can only do the best you can do.
We’ve all had a hard time breaking the ice and the pressure at conferences and networking events to make something happen can make it even more difficult. How many times have you walked into a room for a professional event and just felt awkward? We all have.
Is there a better way, or even a strategy to making the most of a networking opportunity? Powerhouse networkers Judy Goss and Marie Fratoni have years of experience attending and putting on events. They divulge their best advice on making the most of your next networking event and Judy discusses her upcoming conference, Spirit of Women, in Atlanta, October 7 & 8.
Judy Goss, high fashion model turned lifestyle journalism mogul, wanted to create a lifestyles networking experience. Her networking group, What Women Want, now has chapters spanning the entire country.
Marie Fratoni, a master networker and founder of Get Clients Everywhere, elucidates the correlations between networking and sales. She also discusses how important setting intentions are to having success at networking events and conferences.
This broadcast was illuminating. So often, we overthink and it gets us nowhere. Dr. Colleen Mullen and Miriam Goldstein were fascinating guests with real, actionable suggestions for calming that monkey mind down.