We all spend time worrying. There is not a single person out there who doesn’t have moments of self doubt or anxiety about their health, relationships, work, finances… the list goes on! Throw a global pandemic into the mix and those worries can spiral out of control.
So here are a few suggestions to help bring your thoughts back in line and make the situation more manageable. We can’t make your problems go away, but we can help you to find a different way of looking at them.
Here’s the thing: There are some parts of our lives we can control and some things we just can’t, no matter how hard we try. Take COVID-19. It’s out there and we can’t make it go away, so of course we are worried about it. By identifying what is within our control and what is not, we may be able to manage our feelings of anxiety a bit more effectively. Border controls, testing procedures, the track and trace system… we do not control these matters, so let the professionals worry about that. We can only support them by doing our bit, in wonderful Guernsey Together style. This applies to many areas in life. If you can't actually change a situation, then worrying becomes a waste of energy. Instead, focus on what you can do. Finding a way to be positive can help you to feel less anxious.
Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting unrealistic goals for yourself. That’s just inviting worry to creep in. If you start every day thinking “making mistakes is unacceptable” you will inevitably fail - we are all human and making mistakes is part of life. Change this way of thinking to “I will try my best, but I realise I am not perfect” or “If I make a mistake, I will learn from this and grow as a result of it”. You don’t expect perfection from other people, so stop being so hard on yourself.
Picture the scene, you’re talking with your boss - or mother-in-law, or neighbour - and they aren’t listening. They are looking past you, eyes glazing over. The worry and negative thoughts creep in: “Am I boring? Do they not like me?” Well, that’s one way of looking at things, but what if the issue is with them, not you? Stop for a moment and turn that negative thought on its head. Could it be that they didn’t sleep very well last night? Maybe they have a million worries of their own and are struggling to keep on top of things? “They don’t want to listen to me” becomes “They are too distracted with their own worries to listen right now, I will talk about this another time”.
When something goes wrong, do you automatically assume the worst will happen? You might be worried about arriving late at work and your mind starts to work overtime: “I will be late, my boss will be mad, I’ll lose my job, I'll be unable to pay the bills, I'll lose my home...” STOP. This is irrational thinking. Bring your thoughts back to the here and now: “If I am late, I will apologise. My boss will understand; they might also be stuck in traffic. I will not lose my job because of one late arrival, I will be ok.”
Accept that it’s natural to worry from time to time, but if your feelings are having a noticeable effect on your health, get in touch with the experts. Healthy Minds is Guernsey’s link to professionals who can offer short-term therapeutic interventions for adults who are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety. You’ll find a wealth of information and details of how to self refer on their website. Guernsey Mind is another wonderful local resource, where you'll find details of who to talk to if you have concerns about your mental health.