How do we temper the anxiety brought upon by the current events, media, and hysteria going around? During these times you might find yourself vacillating between feeling calm and in-control one minute, to feeling completely panicked and ill-equipped the next moment? What about the different feelings that arise as you fill different roles in your life? One day you might be urging your elderly parents about the need to be careful, while the next you are calming your children, and then panicking with your spouse. Is it normal to shift our view and feelings of the virus as we talk to different people in our lives?
How to balance anxiety:
1. Validation—it is no surprise that we feel like a ping pong ball of emotions. The unknown is making everyone unsure of how to react. Some tell us to remain calm, while others cancel public events. It is normal that we are unsure of what to feel. However, the uncertainty does not mean one should err on the side of anxiety. If you are not feeling hysterical, that is ok. Hysteria is not an effective way of dealing with problems. When one is calm and in control, one is more able to make effective and good decisions.
2. Recognizing that vacillating feelings from anxiety to calm is a normal way for the brain to make sense of the changing current events. When our minds enter into new territory and into new experiences, it needs to find what feels right. It would be unproductive to live with a heightened sense of anxiety all day with the inability to concentrate on work. On the other hand, being too lax and not washing your hands would probably be haphazard in the current situation. Neither of these extremes is healthy, however, with time and experience, we can train our brain to find a balance between anxiety and calm.
3. Compartmentalize—Our ability to fill different roles in our lives is evidence of the strength we have within and our ability to take control of our emotions. Compartmentalizing is a skill used so we can function. When we remain calm for a child and concentrate at work amid the unknown, we are demonstrating that the anxiety and hysteria are not controlling us, but we are controlling it. We can put our anxiety in check, we can find a balance that works for us.
Anxiety is a mechanism to help protect us when we feel danger. However, if the anxiety is not being helpful but just creating hysteria, it needs to be reeled in. As mentioned previously, no one makes effective decisions through hysteria and panic. Prudent decisions are made when we feel calm and in control of our emotions.
Gali is a bilingual therapist (English and Spanish) with a private practice in Englewood. Gali earned a double master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and a master’s in special and general education from Bank Street College of Education. She has worked in schools, in-patient and day treatment programs treating children, families, adults and couples. Gali has trained in evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotionally focused therapy, collaborative problem-solving and motivational interviewing. She also utilizes family systems and psychodynamic principles in her integrative care of clients.
You can find out more about Gali by checking out www.galigoodman.com or you can call to set an appointment at 201-870-0331.
By Gali Goodman