Dealing with feelings of anxiety in 2021

I’m not sure who we should be more worried about. The people talking about they’re feeling. Or the people that are not…

We see the stories every day on our news feeds about celebrities feeling overwhelmed, parents feeling anxious and our friends feeling just downright lonely. Personally, I thought I was getting through this last year okay. Until the phone rings and I jump, imagining that it’s the bank, or a frustrated client, or a family member calling to give bad news. And right then, I realise that the anxiety is there. Yes, maybe somewhere in the background, but it is very real.

At the start of all this, we talked about mental health and we seemed to appreciate its importance. But just trying to stay afloat physically, financially and mentally, took up so much of our energy, that we simply did not seem to have the time to devote to ourselves. Wellness, in whatever shape that came in for each of us, became something that we would definitely get around to tomorrow. After that work contract was finally in the bag, or the kids were in a better routine.

Minding ourselves and watching out for friends & family each day, has become natural to us all, as we wonder what the following day will bring. Job losses, pay cuts, and worries about our financial future have been laid on top of the already heavy burden of minding our physical health, wearing a mask, washing our hands, and generally keeping to ourselves.

Groundhog Day anyone? 2020 was, for many of us, a brand new world in which we juggled a new domestic order, tried to figure out how to work for home and how to fit a 15-minute Zoom meeting into an already hectic day, All while we worried about how we would cope if we had no money coming in. For those of us that were/are single and living alone, 2020 was a real struggle as our social interaction was also taken from us.

2021 will bring with it – positivity, optimism, and new opportunities. Of this we are certain.

We cannot allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed. I have identified a few things I am going to try this year in an effort to help myself embrace a more positive path for 2021, so I thought I would share them with you here!

Put your phone down. Let’s be honest, if we knew in our hearts that we were spending too much time on our phones, tablets and social media, then 2020 was not a year to prove us wrong. Almost as soon as Leo was on the pulpit announcing the first restrictions, we were trawling the web for the best place to shop to replace our Zara fix. We stalked Instagram to see what everyone else was doing within their 5km and we tried to keep up with the slew of Whatsapp messages that assaulted our phones every single day. 2021 is the year to pull this back and try to appreciate life around us (even if it is within your 5km!), rather than feeling like a lazy cow when you see how everyone else is apparently spending their days on. Find your own sunrise, swans on a lake, a crazy looking tree, or some interesting graffiti – and just appreciate it at the moment.

Ditto for TV. This is a big dawning for me. I don’t watch a massive amount of TV (at least I think I don’t), but during 2020, the world of Netflix was opened up to me. And as I scrolled through show after show, I realised that I never really felt good afterward. A couple of evenings, instead of flicking on the TV, I decided to have a bath or do a few gentle yoga stretches. Nothing energetic, just a few easy poses I picked up over the years (it is as much about the headspace as anything else for me). I appreciate that this is not practical for everyone (or those of you with kids), but maybe, the next time you are getting ready to sit down to watch TV, decide instead to put on some music or read a book/magazine for 20 minutes. Whenever I have done this, I have felt so much calmer and so much more myself. Just try it once. You don’t really have anything to lose….

Set smaller, simpler goals. This is something that I have tried to embrace lately and I am getting to like it. Instead of promising yourself that you will clear out that bedroom, or stop eating bread (uphill battle, right?), or tackle your admin /paperwork, break it down into small (or even tiny) pieces. For me, this started with the spare bedroom clear out (which I need to somehow turn into a home office). It got me down every time I looked in there and so I just closed the door. Then I decided to remove/tidy away 10 things each day. Suddenly, not so scary. I knew that if I did 10 things each day for 10 days, that it would almost do it! A ‘thing’ could be a book, a handbag, a necklace. But just agree to 10 things each day. Worked for me. The same can be said for diets. We almost always set ourselves up for failure, talking about kicking out carbs, fats, crisps (Noooo!) and proceed to feel crap on Day 3, after we polish off a Tayto sandwich. Start with one thing and one day at a time. It will be a start and it will not feel like such a challenge.

If you are looking for a little additional support, you can check out our sister publication I’m Okay

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. C.S. Lewis

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