"These are unprecedented times."
We hear this, we know this, but sometimes we still struggle to understand this on a deeper level and act accordingly. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, participating in a contentious election cycle, experiencing the intensity and conversation around civil rights in our community and country and seeing the world around us flood and burn — oh, and you’re still supposed to meet that work deadline or even show up at the office and act like everything is normal.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the stress and anxiety in our current world.
Recognize you're not alone.
In 2019, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that from January to June, an average of 11% of American adults experienced anxiety. Their latest report showed that 29.6% of American adults experienced anxiety in May, and that number grew to 35.2% by July.
It absolutely makes sense that we feel anxiety during this time because we are realizing how much is out of our control, which can generate fear. Whether your friends, family or coworkers are expressing it, at least a third of them are feeling it.
Identify what is in (or out) of your control.
Life isn’t always in our control, but how we deal with life is in our control.
The pandemic? The outcome of "The Bachelorette"? Not in our control. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 that we personally experience? May or may not be in our control. How we treat ourselves and others during these trying times? Definitely in our control.
Be gentle, be kind.
Self-care is marketed to us as pedicures or nights out with girlfriends, when actually self-care is deliberately attending to our needs — like eating a nourishing meal, getting any kind of movement into our day (without making it a tradeoff for food/drinks) and sleeping for 7-8 hours. Not sure what you need? Check out Jace Harr’s interactive self-care guide.
Get help that fits your needs.
To find someone local you can see in-person or via telehealth, "Psychology Today's" online database is a great place to start. If you’re wanting to prioritize your mental health and do practices proven to help, the app Aura has meditations (some as short as three minutes!), a mood tracker and a gratitude journal, as well as bedtime stories for kids of all ages. Plus, YouTube has endless free content, from yoga to workouts to meditation. Don’t wait for a mental health challenge to seek out help or support. Prevention and mitigation are critical during this time.
Negotiate your work life.
If you have been in the office or you’re being called back into the office, communicate with your boss about what you want and need to be successful. You want to come into the office three days a week? You’re uncomfortable meeting in the small conference room? It never hurts to ask for creative alternatives. Be your own best advocate. If you’re managing people, set the example by doing it yourself and encourage your employees to do the same.
Jenny Caldwell is a licensed certified social worker and therapist and practices at the Integrative Medical Center in Maumelle, Arkansas. Learn more at jennycaldwell.net.