Letting Go of F.E.A.R.

By: Jen McWaters, Psy.D. | July 31, 2020

Let’s be real: Right now most of us endure some level of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty in this ever-changing pandemic reality. Now more than ever must we find ways to manage our stress and worry as we continue living our lives in these uncertain times. Coping can take extra creativity, given the limited or non-existent access to regular outlets of stress relief such as gyms, social gatherings, massages, and just plain old hugs and physical contact.

Despite these limitations, I believe history shows that humans have an innate ability to adapt, even thrive, in the most difficult times. In addition, self-care nurtures human resilience such that certain activities can help you adapt. If you feel stuck on what kinds of activities you can do to grow more resilient and adaptable, some ideas follow to get you started down the path of letting go of fear:

F: Find meaningful activities

Find things to do that align with your values. (Values = what’s important to you to be the person you ideally want to be.) Find activities for which you may not have had time or prioritized otherwise. Such activities might include art and painting, writing letters to friends or family, learning to cook healthy meals, trying out meditation, picking up a new hobby or skill, or reading a self-help book on personal growth.

E: Engage your body and mind

We have heard the stress-management benefits of getting our bodies moving. Get creative about incorporating more physical movement into your day such as long walks, hikes, at-home workouts, yoga, even at-home projects.

A: Ask for help when you need it

Humans are social, community-oriented creatures. To counteract the effects of social distancing and isolation, increase your phone and video contact with friends and family. Spend quality time with those in your household. Never hesitate to consider professional help such as teletherapy for extra support if you need it.

R: Remember past experiences of resilience

Although we live in extraordinary times, we can think back to other extraordinarily stressful experiences or events of the past from which we recovered. These include serious illness, loss, financial challenges, and more. Remembering them reminds us of their temporary, finite nature. They will remind you that you had more strength and resilience than you probably thought you had during those times. And, that you can call up that strength and resilience again now.

Additionally, I encourage your mindfulness about limiting exposure to the social media posts and news that increases your anxiety and worry. Only a fine line exists between adequate and over-consumption of information that engenders fear. The former educates; the latter overwhelms. Consider limiting your time on news outlets or access them only at certain times of day (but not at bedtime!). With help from ourselves and each other, we will emerge better than ever on the other side.



Image: Chris Ford on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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