‘The Science’ behind why you may be feeling anxious at this time; Q&A’s:
We aren’t meant to be in fight-or-flight mode all the time but it will most likely kick in as our mind goes into overdrive during current affairs. Emotions, like all energy, cannot be destroyed- they have to go somewhere. However, simply by understanding why we currently feel the emotions and feelings that we do could provide some help during this strange time; see below for some questions and answers on the topic of anxiety:
Why do I feel so anxious at the moment? The problem is the amygdala (the central part of our brain) as clever as it is, it can’t differentiate between general anxiety and direct danger. Therefore you can experience a high level of anxiety whilst watching the news or scrolling on social media at the moment. (As much as this is a dangerous time, it would be very helpful if our brain didn’t make our body feel like there was a tiger outside our room about to attack us any minute).
What are some of the physical symptoms of anxiety? There are theories that your mind and body operate on some kind of energy wave and that one will always impact the other, if you have physical health problems then this will cause your mental health to suffer and vice versa. Anxiety causes a build-up of adrenaline which can cause us to shake, feel sick, faint or dizzy, have an uncontrollable urge to go to the toilet, hyperventilate or experience other uncomfortable changes in breathing.
Why has my appetite changed? During fight/flight mode our body shuts down any physical or mental process that it deems as ‘unnecessary’ during that time of high-level stress. This can include hunger; people have been known to lose their appetite during times of stress. The brain can also have an opposite coping mechanism meaning it is unable to register the feeling of being full from food, therefore people can end up eating in a robotic manner and end up aimlessly bingeing on food.
Why do I feel I look different now? This is also a time when our immune system is at its lowest, therefore it is an especially crucial time for us to take care of our nutrition. You may notice that your hair, skin, nails and other parts of your body begin to be affected by an increased level of anxiety as your body neglects these areas & focuses on what it views as ‘crucial’ for survival mode right now.
Why do other people seem to be coping better than I do? It is important to remember that as much as we are all experiencing the current situation together, some people may be affected more than others. As much as the bigger picture is what is important right now, it does not mean that people’s existing issues or health conditions will just go away until this all ‘blows over’. As we all know, mental health is becoming more and more of an issue in our society and there will be a lot of people out there that have already been struggling with anxiety or feelings of depression etc. that may have now been escalated. Remember that you are doing the best you can in such an unprecedented situation and make sure you have a support system around you that you can turn to if need be.
How can I help people around me during this time? Try to check in with friends & loved ones to see how they are coping. This is a strange time for everyone but even something as simple as receiving a text from someone checking in to see how you are, can really make a big difference at this time. This also provides people a chance to air how they have been feeling and as the old saying goes; “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed at the moment, how can I stop this? I am fully aware it is not a realistic thing to ask that you turn off these negative & anxious thoughts all of the time, that would be pretty impressive for anyone to do right now! However, maybe try to note within yourself how you may be feeling and try to identify this anxiety and the reasons behind it. Remember it is appropriate to feel all of these things right now, by allowing them to have a voice you may then find your own supportive way of processing these emotions and a coping mechanism that works best for you. This could be more beneficial & realistic than just ‘trying to stay positive’ all of the time.
Will this ever get better? As scary and uncertain as this time is, try to remember that so far in your life, you have already survived every hard time which you may have wondered at one point, if you ever would.
Things to be thankful for right now:
An opportunity to connect with other human beings.
Having a place of support.
Time for rest and recovery.
Laughter- just look at all the amazing memes out there if you need a good laugh.
A sense of belonging whilst we are all in this together.
An ability to still exercise.
Different means of expression.
Time to reconnect with ourselves.
Opportunities to be creative.
An advance on time for future projects and goals.
Time off, (as silly as this may seem right now you may have been in need of it so use it to your advantage).
How people are coming together to support those in need through charities and volunteering.
Music, we have some great songs to chill out to.
An opportunity to get creative.
The sunshine (it’s always easier to feel happy when it’s good weather!)
We learn through trial and error and each stage of life leaves us with more information and psychological tools at our disposal. The fear that the life you know will never go back to ‘normal’ again will eventually become more manageable and slowly begin to slip away. Life as we know it could even be better after this if we use it as an opportunity to be a little kinder and to put into perspective what is really important. We just have to carry on helping each other through, after all it is important to remember that like everything else; this too shall pass.
*A mental note to remember; there are some strengths that are only realized during times of uncertainty.*