The Anxiety Keeps on GrowingBy Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS / August 21, 2020
Share this article:We thought it would be over by now. As December 2019 rolled into January 2020, we celebrated the entre into a new year as most of us do. Some of us were in New Year’s Eve parties, others of us were in Watch Night Services, and still others simply went to bed saying, “I’ll see you next year!” Soon after we began our resolutions, we celebrated Dr. King, and shortly thereafter strolled into Valentine’s Day. That’s around the time we began hearing rumblings of some kind of virus. At first it was across the ocean but by February we had already had our first case in the U.S. By mid March the World Health Organization declared coronavirus not simply an epidemic, but a pandemic.
The disease hits, it spreads quickly across the nation. Sports were cancelled, concerts were cancelled, schools began closing temporarily; and then for the year, businesses began closing temporarily; then some permanently. The impacts to physical health, economics, family dynamics, and mental health have been unfathomable. Now we are starting the new school year. How will students participate in remote learning, especially while parents are doing the same? Or what about the parents who cannot work remotely and have young children at home? And that does not even begin to discuss those who have lost their jobs altogether. The anxiety has gone from the trickle of a quiet stream to the roar of raging rapids. Whether you call it anxiety, “my nerves are bad”, or all out fear, most people are feeling some form of this. How you manage your mind in this process will be key to maneuvering through this difficult time.
Retired Navy Seal, endurance athlete, author, and motivational speaker, David Goggins talks about “callusing the mind”. He regularly says that positive results come through suffering. His childhood of abuse and poverty that has transitioned into an adulthood of discipline and numerous awards demonstrates a method to his not-often-heard mantra. This tells me that we can use the anxiety and frustration of any moment, our current moment, to develop a toughness that will get us to the next level. This growing anxiety that you may feel is an opportunity for toughness (i.e. the callous) to develop.
What do you need to do to get where you want to be? Talk back to the anxiety and as author and teacher, Joyce Meyer says, “Do it afraid.” However, before you spring into action consider the following steps.
- If you woke up tomorrow and everything was, within reason, exactly as you wanted it to be what would be different about your life? To answer this question you may say, “I would have a job” or “I wouldn’t have to worry about childcare.” The point to this is to know what success looks like for you.
- What is the smallest baby step you could take toward that answer? To address this question, it is key to push back the desire to feel like a victim, even if you are a victim. You know that you are feeling like the victim if you are thinking statements like, “I’ve already tried that” or “That won’t work because….” Feeling like this will only stall the process and increase the anxiety. Every feeling comes from a thought and sometimes we must insert the right thought and put it on repeat in our minds. It must be on repeat the same way the negative thoughts are on repeat. One affirmation in the morning won’t cut it.
- Finally, be relentless in your quest. Many people who search for jobs can get discouraged by no’s and unwittingly slow their search, stop networking with people, and when they do get interviews, their attitude is poor. Your search for better cannot stop. You may have to slow down to refuel but positive action and the support that connection brings keeps anxiety in its place.
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