8 tips for handling anxiety through crisis

- January 31, 2020 5 MIN READ

I have no doubt you’ve been feeling it during this 2020 Australian bushfire crisis. As we sit and watch the devastation unfold, even though we are probably far removed – maybe hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from the threat – and yet that anxious feeling of worry and hopelessness is still overwhelming.

I have felt it too. I’ve donated, I’ve raised awareness, I’ve dropped off food, and offered my house to displaced family. And yet, I keep thinking – what more can I do?? And what I realised was, this. I can stop letting it “grip” me front up, face my own worry, fear, and sadness. And share with you how I’ve been keeping my mindset in check (most days). In hope that it helps relieve your pain too.

1. Accept – We are powerless over this crisis situation

In the big picture of this bushfire crisis we have no power over Mother Nature. We have no way of knowing which way the wind will blow. No way of knowing if the temperature will spike, or the when heavy rain will come (please pray). Or, how long this will go on for.

Our fear and anxiety comes from there being too many “unknowns”.

But, there are actually some factors that do we know right? Let’s break it down:

  • We know this is a bushfire situation; a common occurrence in Australia. Thankfully we aren’t dealing with war or terrorism
  • We know that trained fire fighters and emergency personnel are doing their best to keep everyone safe
  • We know that people in effected areas have action plans in place, they want to be safe too
  • We know that organisations are stepping up to help with evacuations and disaster relief and every day there is more help coming
  • We know that people are “doing something” all over Australia to help in this crisis.

We are NOT ALONE. We may be powerless over Mother Nature, but together WE are all doing what we can to help.

2. Purge your feelings on paper (not social media)

Get out a pen and paper and purge all your feelings into your Journal. Purge that ill feeling of angst, the worry, and the fears that are coming up. The anger, the frustration. The sadness, and just have a cry if you need to. Let it all out.

Ask yourself “What specifically am I anxious about”

Through purging we release the emotions and lighten the burden, and often find clarity after writing. Often a learning or an idea of how you can help in a resourceful way comes to light.

I know how good it feels to be a keyboard warrior – ranting and letting all your frustrated emotions out on social media. However, often these posts can do more harm than good. Sometimes it sparks anger in others with differing opinions and that intense emotion can be directed right back at you. When you’re already anxious and feeling raw, that counterattack can be debilitating. And it takes the focus off the main thing – helping people, communities, families, and lives to heal after the crisis.

3. Make an action list of things YOU can do. Big or small.

We may be powerless over the situation – however, we still have a voice and we can act. One person can do a lot – but when we come together as MANY we can make a huge impact.

We can raise awareness, donate money/time, fund raise, offer our services, support the people in need, lobby politicians, etc etc. Collectively we CAN DO so much.

In this bushfire crisis I have already seen the power of the human spirit rise up in everyday people to help wherever they can. It has brought me to tears on many occasions.

4. Limit your news intake and social media

Limit yourself to checking in only once or twice per day to the TV coverage or online news. Preferably not grabbing your phone or turning on the TV as soon as you wake up, and definitely NOT before bed.

The crisis is on every channel, on every radio station, the news is EVERYWHERE. It can be all consuming to you, specially if you are worried about loved ones and are anxiously awaiting updates.

Absorbing that much negative news and sadness can be detrimental to your mental health.

If you are being paralysed by the horrific images and deep sadness and it is stopping you from doing what you need to do then you are no help to anyone. Not your family, not your colleagues, and definitely not the people in need.

Checking in to get updates a couple times a day from one or two sources will lessen that level of anxiety. My advice – check in at 10am and 6pm. Get the update, watch what you need to and then take a break from it, get back to your action list.

It’s tempting to be glued to social media and the news. We want to be involved, we care, we have empathy – I have slipped up during this crisis too. It did me no favours. I couldn’t show up and do my part, because I was consumed by the sadness.

5. Wake up to a healthy morning routine

It doesn’t have to take up much of your time. Roll out of bed and begin your day with a short 5 minute guided mediation will help to calm your mind and do wonders for your emotional resilience.

Spend time journalling as you eat breakfast, writing out your gratitude list, sending kind thoughts and love to the people in need all helps to refocus your mind on the good, and to raise the energy vibration of the planet to love and compassion for healing.

6. HALT – Don’t attempt to make any big decisions while you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired

Eating well during the day, drinking lots of water, going for a walk, or exercising will keep your body running well, so that your mind runs well.  Take care of yourself.

Making big decisions when you are feeling low or frazzled is never a good idea. HALT, take the time to rest and nurture yourself, so you can give more.

7. Keep your hands busy

When your mind starts racing and that anxiety is spiking – get up, move your body and keep your hands busy. It will help calm your racing mind. Too much idle time alone our thoughts can wander.

Find some tasks to do, at home or work. Nothing too complex, anything to keep your hands busy. It will help.

8. Remember, this too shall pass

Keep your mind in the present moment, not thinking too far ahead. Sometimes a few deep breaths can bring you back to the present.

Remember that this too shall pass, saying it to yourself as often as you need.

This crisis will pass (hopefully soon) and all we can do is take one day at a time. Sometimes it is an hour at a time, sometimes a minute at a time. Doing what we can with the resources that we have. Perhaps saying to yourself:

“I will not focus on solving all of today’s issues or tomorrow’s problems now. I release all worries from my mind and allow my mind time to rest”

I send peace from my heart to the families and communities who have lost so much across Australia, peace to our blackened bushland and all of our divine trees, peace to all our wildlife who perished. Our collective hearts weep for you. When we come together and unite as ONE we will get through this. 

Thinking of you all. JB

This article was written by Mindset Mentor & Business Coach, Janel Briggs and published on LinkedIn.