Whenever you’re feeling worried or anxious, find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone and that these feelings are completely normal. Fear and panic relating to the coronavirus are spreading faster than the virus itself.
The good news is there are ways you can do to stay calm and try to minimize your anxiety during these concerning times.
A speaker and artist in New York, Amber Rae said that she can relate to people dealing with anxiety and worry. “One day, I realized I had an invisible terrible someone inside my head shouting things at me all the time. I started to get curious about what that voice was and realized I was dealing with a lot of worry,” Rae, author of the book, “Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential,” told TODAY.
Here are the tips she recommended:
Analyze whether it’s useful or toxic worry
Worry isn’t necessarily bad — you just have to know which kind you’re experiencing.
Toxic worry is more about ruminating — those thoughts on an endless loop that paralyze and prevent people from taking action. This is the type of worry that has you asking: Am I good enough? Who am I to do this? What are they going to think of me? What if something bad happens?
Classify through your worries
• Take out a sheet of paper and write down everything you’re worried about: That way, the anxiety transforms from noise inside your head to something you can look at objectively, Rae advised.
• Go through every worry and circle what you can control.
• Ask yourself: “What productive action can I take on this?” Then write down your action plan by each circle.
Don’t dull your negative feelings
Rae is an optimist, but she’s wary of being a “positivity-oholic”: always grasping for the bright side to avoid considering what could go wrong.
Get to know your “uncomfortable messy feelings” and don’t immediately replace them with positive thoughts because negative emotions can offer wisdom, Rae advised.
Things you can do when faced with fear or anxiety
1. Name it: Label the feeling as vividly as possible to make it tangible. It could be “Ms. Perfectionist,” Fear, Anxiety or Anger.
2. Talk to it: Think of it as a character you can have a conversation with. When Rae is worried about how a project is going, she might say, “Hey Ms. Perfectionist, I see that you want this to be really good. What’s going on here? What important insight do you have?” These emotions are like children trying to get your attention: A dialogue can reveal what information they have, she said.
3. Make a request: You might say, “Hey Fear, I know this is really important to you and you’re a little freaked out, but we’re going to go do this. I need you to take a step back and give me a little space to see what’s possible.”
Realize that wonder and worry work together
If worry is the fear of what could go wrong, wonder is the curiosity of the unknown, Rae said. It applies to the possibilities in your life and career, but also to your inner emotional world: When worries arise, wonder what message they have for you, she advised.
Think of wonder and useful worry complementing each other.
“Wonder may have glorious ideas, visions and possibilities and dreams. But worry can really anchor those in preparation and deliberate action. … They work together,” she said.