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by Andrea M. Darcy
How can you stop global events from ruling your mind and your life, particularly if you already suffer from anxiety or are a sensitive person? When we are now faced with what seems an endless stream of tough things, from pandemics to terrorism to being on the verge of a world war?
How to handle anxiety due to global events
So when it comes to anxiety, first we can need reminders of the things deep down we already know.
1. Yes, watch for news bingeing.
Don’t fool yourself into pretending you don’t have some control here. You can choose how much news to take in a day.
- Particularly notice if you read the same news item about global events from several different angles. Is this really necessary?
- Also if you use news outlets that are known to be sensational and work to twist up your emotions.
- And cancel things like automatic updates popping up on your computer that make your anxiety worse.
2. Make a timer your best friend.
It can be very eye opening to use a timer to time your news reading.
- try to keep to 15 minutes of reading at a time
- keep a daily tally of news reading and research
- or time how many hours between each news ‘check in’ you leave, so you can’t fool yourself that you ‘need’ to check again.
A timer is also very good to help with anxiety ‘drifting’, where your thoughts are so anxious that you suddenly realise an hour has passed and you’ve done nothing. Setting a timer to go off on the hour, every hour, can pull you back ‘in’ to reality.
3. Add on the tools of the trade.
By: nasrul ekram
Anxiety is a full blown physical experience. And as a sufferer you will know the tools that counter anxiety…. but might practise them less than you mean to.
So double duty with that timer going off each hour, using it as a reminder to spend two to five minutes on an anxiety tool like:
Consistency helps with anxiety tools. The more you train your brain to turn to such tools that work, the more you keep your anxiety in check.
4. Also watch for group anxiety bingeing.
When we are anxious and our mind is tripping out on illogical thoughts about the state of the world? Our first desire would ideally be to talk to someone who can calm us down.
And yet it’s far more common to instead seek out others who will accept and confirm our illogical, frantic thinking about global events. Of course two or three anxious people talking together do not lower anyone’s stress.
Ask good questions about who you are reaching out to:
5. Don’t up your fear factor by breaking good boundaries.
Already anxious, and see your ex, who has always been manipulative and upsets you, has got in touch? Or that toxic friend who uses you for attention she never returns?
Don’t use your anxious ‘but with what’s going on it might mean the end of the world’ thoughts to see you cave in and respond to people you know are bad for you. If anything, now is the time to guard yourself even more carefully over people who create any kind of fear or upset.
6. Use an intermediate to have a break.
If you find you are in a constant state of panic and know that the news is making it worse? Take a break, even a full week or so, by enlisting the help of a trusted friend or partner who knows about your anxiety.
Ask them to contact you immediately only for urgent news, but then otherwise to just give you a daily update on the essentials.
7. Don’t trust your thoughts about global events.
Yes, our world might really change beyond what we yet understand at any given moment, whether it’s due to a pandemic or a war. Yes, we might lose loved ones. These are all serious concerns.
But your anxiety will make things worse still. That’s what anxiety does. It relentlessly seeks out the very worst possible scenarios and side step any positives.
Borrow from CBT therapy and do a ‘thought chart’. This involves recording your negative thoughts, finding their opposites, and finding thoughts that are more a ‘shade of grey’. Learn the process in our article on balanced thinking.
8. And try switching your perspective.
From our modern Western lives, things like an act of terrorism or a pandemic seem like the worst thing that has ever happened in the world.
But there are people amongst us who have lived through far worse for decades. Who survive daily war, repeat natural disasters, or ongoing famine.
Gratitude is one of the most powerful, proven ways to shift perspective. What five things can you be grateful for right here and now? And what five things, not matter how small, went RIGHT today instead of wrong?
9. See the hour before bed as more precious than ever.
Anxiety is the enemy of sleep, and sleeplessness affects our immune system.
See this as war. You against all your bad habits in the name of protecting your heath.
So this is not the time to ‘just read some emails’ before bed when they might be upsetting, or to call that family member who always makes your anxiety worse.
Turn off. Do all those things you always say you will but don’t. A guided meditation, drinking a sleep tea, taking a bath, whatever it takes to unwind a bit.
And if you suffer night anxiety, where you always wake up at 4 a.m. mid panic attack, it might be time to go to bed that one or two hours earlier like you’ve always said you would.
10. Laugh and cry.
Holding onto emotions can make us feel more tightly wound and anxious. Make time for a good cry when needed.
And don’t underestimate the power of laughing to slow down anxiety. It doesn’t make you a bad person to feel good despite global events, or to commit half an hour a day to watching your favourite comedian on Youtube. It makes you someone committed to wellbeing.
11. When in doubt, help others.
Ready to hear one of the fastest ways to escape your racing, busy thoughts? Get so busy helping others you don’t have time to listen to them. Research shows it improves wellbeing and also lowers blood pressure.
Walk an elderly neighbour’s dog, get someone in quarantine groceries. If you are in lock down, get creative. Write letters, comment on forums, join one of the many ‘online hubs’ forming where people offer their services to each other for free.
12. Get unconditional support you can count on.
In the last few years, therapy has gone more and more online. You can now do not only individual online therapy, but also couples therapy and family therapy.
Ready to get some professional help to get your anxiety under control? We connect you with some of London’s best talk therapists. Or use our online booking platform now to find affordable online counsellors and psychotherapists you can talk to from anywhere in the world.