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Generalized Anxiety ... Week?

For anyone watching and reading the news this past week, it is pretty reasonable to think that one might experience some fear and anxiety. Normally, there are Cognitive Behavioural (CBT) approaches to dealing with uncertainty, fear, worry, and anxiety, when they are perhaps irrational or disproportionate to whatever might have triggered them.


But what do you do during a global pandemic, with a virus that spreads quickly and poses a very real and significant threat to public health and our economic stability? Well, panic, of course. But then what? Watch more news and panic some more?


We need a plan. The usual CBT techniques still apply, such as stick to the facts, don't blow things out of proportion or get stuck in your imaginings of worst-case scenarios. Focus on what's happening now, and better yet on things you can control.


Take time away from watching the news. Or do what I started doing last week: every time I read bad news, I drop and do a dozen pushups. I can tell you, by evening my arms had had it. When I told this idea to a friend, he loved it and said the coolest thing, "it's like if your body can't handle it, what makes you think your mind should". Exactly. And physical limits are sometimes easier to become aware of and respond to. The idea is to create a physical limit that corresponds to a psychological one and use the balance in one to drive balance in the other.


Today, I'm reading less news. It's as if my brain learned that there is a price to pay if I choose to worry, so now I worry less. If I want to read that news to see what happened next, then I will also be doing pushups again. (And you have to stick to it.) Doing the pushups takes me away from the screen and breaks the cycle of following the next link. It also feels great and relieves stress. Maybe for you, the physical activity won't be pushups, but whatever it is, choose something that you're comfortable with, but that is still exertion (to a degree that is safe and healthy for you), and that will make you happy, relieve stress and get you away from your computer for a few minutes. Stay safe & stay healthy - mentally and physically.

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