Accepting Our Anxiety: Coping with Uncertainty in an Unpredictable World

I returned to work this week – the first time since the global pandemic was announced. I was able to connect with my clients online and on the telephone, for which I was grateful.

One thing is for sure: we are all stressed.

And it makes sense, right? In a short period of time, the entire world has been infiltrated by an invisible predator. Countries all over the world are locking down and we are bombarded by dismal and tragic updates on a daily basis and on an international stage. We have lost our sense of normalcy and routine in all of our systems. Our work and school environments. Our extra-curricular activities and social events. Our freedom to utilize public spaces. All taken away or drastically changing.

So, yes, it makes sense that we are stressed. Because anxiety if fueled by uncertainty. When we do not have predictability and routine, we can feel unsafe – physically and emotionally. Every day, we see different systemic changes and restrictions. We hear the phrase “day to day” all the time and there cannot be any commitment to any timeframes. We have no control over the trajectory that this virus is going to have on the world, other than our own personal choices to socially and physically distance from others and self-quarantine if we are sick. We don’t know what to expect on any given day. And when our anxiety rises, we see all of our other negative feelings surface more readily. We are more irritable. Angry. Sad. Lonely. Guilty.

Is it hopeless? Is it inevitable that we will feel this way forever? It certainly feels that way. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We will have to be creative and flexible. We will have to let go of expectations to a certain degree. But there are things that we can control that we can try while we are at home.

  • We can control when and how long we watch the news or check social media and internet sites, as abysmal as they are. Are you the type that has to know everything in order to feel less anxious? Or does knowing too much make you more anxious? Whichever one fits, do what makes your anxiety less.
  • We can make time every day to use our social outlets to connect with people. Create group chats on Facebook or WhatsApp and schedule video chats with your loved ones. Go through your contact list and create a list of people that you want to check in on every day and send them a text or call them. We are in a technological world, people. Let’s make use of it.
  • We can set small goals for each day to give ourselves those small victories. That closet that you always wanted to organize but never had the time? Now you do! Go around the house with a recycling and garbage bag and start throwing stuff out. It feels powerful and freeing to purge! Those lonely socks that seem to accumulate with no pair in sight? Throw them out or find their partners.
  • We can enjoy the moments we have our family members. You know who those people are, right? The ones that are we hardly see during the week because of work and soccer practice and dance class and commuting. Start a movie marathon, play a board game, play a video game, put on some music and just dance.
  • We can be kind to ourselves and recognize that are anxiety makes sense. We can accept it for now and label it as such. It’s a stressful time for all of us.

Even though it feels like there will be no end to this pandemic, it will end. It has to. And our lives will return to the regular chaos that we have learned to accept as normal. So, we have the ability to enjoy the moment the best way we can. We are being given the opportunity to slow down.

This situation is can be everlasting or fleeting – it just depends on the lens from which we are seeing it.

My 3 Principles of Stress Reduction: Putting my words into Practice

Organization isn’t about perfection. It is about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, and saving time & money, & improving your overall quality of life.

Christina Scalise
Some call it ‘organized chaos’…

There are many constants that I like to emphasize during my counselling sessions. Some are based on theory, some on personal or professional experience. Regardless of the presenting issue, I have three principles of stress reduction that I like to encourage all of my clients to embrace:

Continue reading “My 3 Principles of Stress Reduction: Putting my words into Practice”

Making ME a Priority: Letting Go of the “Shoulds” and “Musts”

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

Jean Shinoda Bolen

As we approach the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a brand new year, some of us challenge ourselves by reflecting on all the things we want to change about our lives.  It could be our physical health (“I want to be healthier, more physically fit, and have more energy”) or our emotional well-being (“I want to be happier, calm and relaxed”).  We view January 1st as a baseline to which we can compare ourselves on December 31st.  If you are anything like me, I tend to set goals for myself that I “know” I have the time and energy to complete.  I find myself “should”-ing and “must”-ing about all of the things that I truly believe in that moment are achievable.  And then life happens.  And all of my “shoulds” and “musts” become precipitators for feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and frustration.

This year, I am going to try something very different.  My goal is to make myself a priority.  This is far beyond the “Year of Me” that I have tried to start for several years, where I set goals for myself to achieve that focus on different aspects of my life.  Making myself a priority simply means that I will try my best to give myself equal attention as the other aspects and responsibilities of my life.  This means that the relaxation and self-care time that I hope to “fit into” my life will now be scheduled.  I will let go of the “shoulds” and “musts”.

For example, one of the goals that I have made for the last three years (at least) is to begin reading for leisure again.  I happily go to the bookstore and pick out two or three books that I have always wanted to read and then I go home, put them by my bedside and wait until nighttime.  Then, I go about the rest of my day.  I cook dinner, eat dinner, attempt to clean up, and relax in front of the television and catch up on the shows that I have previously recorded (or Netflix…there is almost always time to watch Netflix it seems).  By the time I get to my bed, I look at the books as I yawn deeply and my eyes sting of fatigue.  If I can get a paragraph or two in, I am asleep before I can turn the page.  I tell myself that I will do it tomorrow…if I have the time.  And then the next day, the same things happen.  Until a few months pass and I have still not read the first chapter.  Insert “shoulds” and “musts” and feelings of guilt and shame.  So, if I follow the idea of making myself a priority, I will schedule reading time into my schedule and follow through with it, just as I would do with scheduled meal times and work hours.  I will go to my bed earlier.  Even if it is for half an hour, it is now a personal appointment.

In my personal and professional lives, I have learned that there are often times when the things that we hold dearest to us are the ones that we often set aside when we believe that there are things that we “should” or “must” do instead.  Spending quality time with our family members often occurs when we have time at the end of the day after running all of our errands and completing all of our chores. And just like the situation with my lonely books at my bedside, we often run out of time and cannot fit it in, promising ourselves that there will be more time tomorrow.  Letting go of the “shoulds” and “musts” is reminding ourselves that the dishes can be done after the kids go to sleep.  They will still be dirty at 9:30 p.m.  Or giving ourselves permission to sit and drink our cup of tea until it’s completely finished.  It only takes ten to fifteen minutes.  The countless cups of half full tea that turned cold because I was trying to multi-task and completely forgot about it is unbelievable!

It seems like an easy enough goal, right?  To schedule time to spend with my family and do things for fun? The actions are not difficult.  What I may struggle with most will be reminding myself of my “shoulds” and “musts”.  Challenging these negative thought patterns (a.k.a. Thinking Traps) by asking myself, “Do I really have to do this now or can it wait a few minutes or hour?“, will take practice.  But I am up for the challenge.  Besides, taking care of ourselves reminds us of our self-worth and value.  It’s time for all of us to remind ourselves of this.  So, read that chapter you have been meaning to read. Go out for coffee and catch up with friends whom you have not seen in a while. Watch your favourite television show with your partner.  Play with your kids.  Make them all personal appointments that you cannot cancel. Let go of your “shoulds” and “musts” and focus on your “wants” and on yourself.

Now Booking for January 2018!!

christmas-lights.jpgThe new year is approaching and it can be characterized by the development of goals to increase happiness, success, and physical and emotional connections. It is a time when we make plans to address our physical health, “bad habits”, and financial decision-making.  However, for some reason, we often neglect the idea of addressing our emotional well-being as well.

It is important to remember that our physical and mental health are interconnected and are equally important to take care of.

I am currently scheduling in-person and online appointments for January 2018.  This is a great time to take care of ourselves, both body and mind.  I have also extended office hours that will hopefully accommodate your schedule.  Please see below the appointment times and locations that are now available beginning on Tuesday, January 9, 2018:

Orangeville office 

Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Saturdays – various times available – Please contact me for more information

Contact me at: 519-217-5013 (phone or text)

Brampton/Georgetown 

Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Contact me at: 437-772-1010 (phone or text)

Online Video Counselling (Location: Your own home through Inkblot Therapy)

Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

 

For all services, you can also email me at cindynashcounselling@gmail.com or use the Contact Form by clicking here.  If these times don’t work for you, contact me anyways and we may be able to find another time that suits you better!

It’s time to take care of you.  You deserve it.