We live in a time when anxiety has an apparent reason – the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing lockdown. The possibility of getting infected is obscenely high. We are all required to act as people suffering from anxiety. We need to stay home. We need to stop engaging in natural human closeness. Mel Schwartz at PsychologyToday explained how coronavirus and anxiety go hand in hand in an article.
We need to become unrecognizable when we get out on the street because the virus might catch us. We have to cover our mouth and nose, our hands, our eyes, our hair, and we should cross to the other sidewalk when we meet someone. If the virus doesn’t get to us, the anxiety will.
Fear is the ancient defense mechanism that we’ve inherited from our previous non-human form of existence. Animals feel fear. Fear is the brain’s way of informing you that you should do something to escape the danger. Fear is our archetypal guardian. So, fear isn’t something we need to get rid of. What we need to get rid of is the danger.
The Fear of Coronavirus and Anxiety
Having to live in such a complex system as the human mind is, fear also evolved. Just like the mind started exploring the untouchable kind of unknown, so did fear. What we’ve started experiencing fear not only of what threatened us (wild beasts, fire, tornados) but what we’ve imagined, this is is when anxiety was born. What if? That’s the fear’s most reliable chain.
We depend on what if? We evolved through what if? We feel we need it to keep us safe from possible future loss, just like we need fear to keep us safe from present probable damage. But they are just thoughts. They don’t represent the current reality.
We analyze a possible future outcome by asking ourselves what if? And that’s also the road to perdition—the safest way of losing our minds. We weren’t designed to predict the future, and yet this is the only thing we rely on to survive. We rely on nothing to have everything. Only the human mind could’ve come up with this nonsense.
How to Fight Against Anxiety
- Instead of focusing on anxiety and let yourself get slurped in this vortex, here is a simple exercise recommended by psychologist Mel Schwartz that can help you break the “What if?” — Pattern. It is an exercise that can rewire your thoughts and drive you to a mindfulness existence in the present.
- Face your anxious thoughts of the unknown of the future.
- Ask yourself, “what is causing me distress and anxiety? Does it have something to do with my fear of uncertainty, of what could go wrong in the future?” The long term solution is, in my opinion, searching in the core of the problem, trying to manage and learn to live with whatever puts us in the ‘fight or flight’ state. Fight anxiety with the help of therapy from BetterHelp.
- Change the pattern by mindfully telling yourself, “I’m OK right now, at this moment. If I stay focused in the moment, this moment will unfold into the next moment and become the future that I’m so apprehensive about,” and you might tackle anxiety, particularly during this coronavirus lockdown.