Ways not to lose hope for the best
In times of political and economic instability, it is especially important to deal with panic moods and remain resilient. Here are some tips on how to bring anxious thoughts under control.
Don't give up your usual routine
In a moment of acute anxiety, many find it difficult to do the usual things: walk the dog, make breakfast, write messages to work chats. From the point of view of physiology, this is not surprising. Anxiety is the body's response to perceived or real danger. It triggers the stress mechanism: the level of cortisol and adrenaline in the blood begins to go off the scale, the brain desperately tries to find a way out of the situation. Everyday activities on this background immediately begin to seem unnecessary and even inappropriate.
Nevertheless, psychologists advise to concentrate on them. Especially in situations that you can not change. Performing the usual actions, we regain a sense of control over the situation. And as a result, we calm down a bit and concentrate on the present. The latter allows a little distraction from pain and fearful thoughts about the future.
Do the easiest thing you can do right now. Wash your face, make some tea, open the window, wash your cup, take a short walk. This will help distract you.
Do not postpone habitual affairs: if you were going to go to the gym or to the hairdresser, act according to your plan. Cancellations and postponements will only increase the scale of chaos.
Do something for loved ones. By caring for others, we strengthen our bond with them. This is a good anti-anxiety remedy: a strong connection with other people makes you feel that you are not alone in this difficult situation.
Don't make any predictions
In times of stress, the brain makes lightning-fast predictions based on limited information and chooses the appropriate reaction: to run, to kick, or to play dead.
At such a moment, we perceive information in a distorted way, but we still sometimes rely too heavily on these predictions. For a while, trying to predict the outcome is comforting-even if it is the most negative-and gives us the illusion of controlling the situation. But often the predictions influence our behavior too much:
- If one believes in a positive scenario, one can ignore information that contradicts it. And to the last minute not notice that the situation has worsened.
- If a person concentrates on a negative scenario, he/she will feel anxious and depressed all the time. This is more likely to lead to depression than to help one survive a stressful event.
- Even a forecast that seems reasonable and realistic can be detrimental. In such a case, the person may be unprepared for a worsening of the situation. It will be difficult to navigate and make intelligent decisions in the new circumstances.
Psychologists advise at times of stress and uncertainty to keep your attention on the present: watch how events unfold, monitor and accept your negative emotions and react to what happened in reality, not in your imagination. This strategy is called "increasing anxiety tolerance" and is recommended for people who experience high levels of anxiety due to stressful events.
Today's world is unimaginable without a high level of uncertainty about the future. Human expectations and predictions are constantly being frustrated-it is better to accept the unpredictability of the world than to live in perpetual frustration because external factors change plans.
Strengthen your faith in your abilities
The feeling of helplessness is another catalyst for anxiety. It often occurs after negative events: a person begins to doubt that he or she will be able to cope with the possible consequences.
For example, it is possible to set a series of experiments that will confirm your ability to overcome difficulties. The main thing is that the goals were feasible, but not too easy.
It can be a work task that you have not done before. Or cooking a special dish that requires serious culinary skills. Or some kind of athletic achievement - for example, running 5 kilometers. The mere fact that you have done it will make you more confident.
And if there is no strength for it, remember how you overcame difficult situations before. It might even be worth writing out a list of your qualities that helped you with this. Remember: you possess them, no matter what happens in the world.
If anxiety causes you to frantically check messengers and update your news feed every half hour, it's a manifestation of hypercontrol. This defensive reaction is typical of stressful situations. It seems that if you know as much as possible about what is going on, you can better prepare yourself for the negative consequences. It is perfectly normal to act this way in moments of anxiety.
If, on the contrary, in a situation of uncertainty, you don't read the news and act as if nothing special is happening, this is also a protective reaction, but a different one: avoidance. And doing so is no less normal than trying to research all sorts of sources.
But naturally - not always useful. At first, both hypercontrol and avoidance slightly reduce anxiety. But if you follow one pattern for a long time, you'll either focus on the negative and end up even more anxious, or you'll find yourself in an information vacuum and not learn how to cope with negative news.
In order for both defensive reactions to help you in the long run, use them in moderation. For example, if you are overly focused on the news, limit the time you consume it to 30 minutes a day. If you tend to avoid disturbing information, add at least 15 minutes a day of news reading.
Remember the most important thing
In 1942, the Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, his parents and pregnant wife were arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Only he himself survived. And he found the strength to recover from the horrors he endured and helped many of his patients to cope with their suffering, wrote more than thirty books and founded a new trend in psychotherapy - logotherapy.
Describing the concentration camp experience, Frankl concluded that only those people who saw meaning in their lives survived. He recalls two of his patients with suicidal thoughts, concentration camp inmates like himself. One of them found the meaning of life in his young child, the other in an unfinished series of books.
Meaning, according to Frankl, makes people resistant to suffering and allows them to endure reality even when it seems completely unbearable. Because there is something to be resilient about. To use this knowledge, remember who and what really matters to you. Maybe it's the people and animals you love. Or the business of life - writing books, creating, helping other people?
If there are no obvious answers to these questions, try to remember what you dreamed of dedicating yourself to when you were a child. Or think about who needs your help and support? Often meaning has to do with responsibility: taking care of those who depend on you, finishing the job you once started. If you find your meaning, keep it in mind and remember it when anxious, bitter and wanting to give up.