Does anybody you know rush out to arrange a vacation as soon as the government revealed its plan for resuming normalcy once the shutdown was lifted? As soon as they realized there was light at the end of the tunnel, some individuals began making preparations. Those who disagree would have thought that the news raises more questions than it provides answers – or that things are moving a little too fast in their opinion –
Over the course of the last year, we’ve all had plans that didn’t go as planned, from vacations and birthday parties to medical visits and examinations. In addition, there is no assurance that any plans we make for the remainder of the year will not be altered or abandoned: although there are dates for each step in the roadmap, they are not fixed in stone, and we are still unsure of what will happen and when it will take place.
It is likely that the continuous unpredictability of life is getting to many of us. It will be especially difficult for individuals who suffer from mental health disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), who want certainty and control in their lives.
Although none of us has complete control over the events surrounding our plans, we do have influence over how we react when things don’t go as planned. It is possible to strengthen our resilience in the face of disappointment by engaging in certain activities.
Recognize and accept your emotions.
When our plans are endangered or interrupted, or when we have lost something that was important to us, it is natural to experience emotions of worry, sorrow, and rage. Enabling our emotional reactions to be completely felt allows us to more thoroughly comprehend and absorb what has occurred, and therefore to go on.
You must accept the fact that disappointment will inevitably occur at times.
In these times of uncertainty, it’s a feeling that we all feel – and never more so than right now. We must avoid being obsessed with our disappointment since it may lead to sorrow and despair. When anything goes wrong with a plan, instead of dwelling on it, try thinking along the lines of ‘It occurred, and now I have to figure out what to do next.’ or ‘I am really disappointed, but I choose not to linger on it.’
Identify what you have no control over and accept responsibility for it.
There are a number of inevitable and out of our control occurrences that may derail our best-laid plans. Choosing to accept when there is nothing we can do to change the result may help us deal with our disappointment and frustration more effectively.
Your expectations should be adjusted according to the present situation.
Our expectations and ideals may sometimes be at conflict with what is really attainable in a given circumstance. It’s not regular times, and everything is much more difficult! Have you ever set goals for yourself that you realized were impossible to achieve in the end? You may be setting yourself up for failure.
Do you have a sense of urgency to do all of the tasks you put off over the previous year? Consequently, tension may develop. Although we should definitely have dreams and create plans, it will be beneficial if we take a step back and evaluate whether or not they are feasible at this point in time. You may soften the phrase ‘I should…’ by using words such as ‘I would want to…,’ ‘I will strive to…, or ‘I hope… instead of it.
If you’re feeling nervous, put your assumptions to the test first.
In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), we conduct studies to assist individuals in changing their connection with their ideas, thus enabling them to better control their emotions. In order to test your ability to deal with the uncertainty that still lies ahead, do something that has an unclear result and see how you fare. If you usually order the same takeout, it may be as easy as trying something totally new! That you can cope with uncertainty (and maybe even love the result!) will be the message that your brain receives.
Negative ideas must be confronted and defeated.
Keep an eye on your thoughts and be conscious of them. Take a moment to consider if you really believe statements such as “There is nothing I can look forward to” or “I won’t be able to accomplish anything until the summer.” Even if it takes time, we will gradually be able to do more. Take a look at each stage in the government’s road map and evaluate what each step implies for you personally.
Describe one thing that you’ll soon be able to accomplish that you aren’t already. Never make a comparison between it and “normal” before the epidemic. Compare it instead to the most severe moment of lockdown and acknowledge the progress that has been achieved since then.
Making plans may be intimidating, so start small and work your way up from there. Prepare yourself for success by setting a goal that you are confident in achieving. This will send a signal to your brain that it is OK to look forward to things. Additionally, you might schedule activities with flexible dates, or prepare two distinct alternate versions – one of which will work if the limitations turn out to be more stringent than you anticipated. In order to develop confidence while staying realistic, you must first understand what you are facing.
Leaving the confines of the lockdown
The process of transitioning may be difficult – and we’ve been through a number of them this year! The adjustment to a new environment, even one that is seen as a good step forward, may be difficult at first. Many of us will be feeling apprehensive and anxious about going out and interacting with other people as the lockdown begins to be eased in the coming weeks. Some may even be intimidated, frightened, or hesitant to take the initiative.
People who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, panic disorder, or social anxiety may find this time of year especially difficult. However, even if they’ve had success with therapy in the past, it’s possible that their symptoms have become worse during the previous few months. Things like using public transportation, standing in line, or being in a crowded environment may be overwhelming and scary. In certain instances, individuals who have never had an anxiety condition before may find themselves experiencing symptoms for the first time.
What are your current whereabouts?
Everyone is experiencing something different right now. There will be those of us who are ready to smash down the door and start the process. Some people will wish they could just remain inside the house. Others will emerge slowly and cautiously, blinking their eyes, while others will emerge quickly! We’re all at various places in our heads right now, with different perspectives on what’s going on around us.
If you’re feeling scared or uncomfortable, or if you’re worried about how you’ll deal, it’s essential to acknowledge this and be kind with yourself. It seems that many of us have created a safe haven for ourselves, which we are now being asked to leave. Our license to escape circumstances that are unpleasant or annoying has expired, and now we must confront them once again. Apart from that, when we do go out, things are far from normal; for example, a visit to the bar requires that we follow a set of regulations that must be followed.
And, of course, the threat posed by the virus itself has not diminished. Everyone, even those who have had vaccinations, will perceive this danger differently: some may feel more secure, while others may still feel unsafe.
If our confidence is low, it may be difficult to get back into the flow of things; for example, increasing our real-life social contact may be difficult to resume. We may be concerned that we’ve lost our ability, or we may have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and how much pleasure we should be having. As a consequence, we may be unable to enjoy ourselves, may experience anxiety, and may over-analyze everything that occurs thereafter. Some individuals may feel compelled to continue avoiding social settings as a result of this.
We all know that avoiding situations makes anxiety problems worse. If there are activities you want or need to accomplish, and they are permitted and safe to do so, here are some pointers to assist you get started on your journey.
Determine what you are most comfortable with. What kinds of settings and activities do you think you’d enjoy? What is it that makes you feel uncomfortable? What amount of risk do you consider to be acceptable?
When it is feasible, go at your own speed through the process.
Continuing one-on-one meetings with individuals is something you should aim to achieve. Others will have their own expectations of us, and you may need to establish clear limits and be forceful in some situations. For example, if someone puts pressure on you to do something you are not yet ready for, you may need to set clear boundaries and be assertive.
Make a point of checking in with yourself.
Are you avoiding anything because you really think the danger is too great to take? Is it because you’re nervous, or is it just because it’s simpler not to do it? Make it a point to experiment with something new every couple of days or so. Because of the isolation that was required during lockdown, it is extremely simple for it to become a habit.
Make a list of the things that are most important to you. This is an excellent moment to re-evaluate what really important in your life so that you can direct your efforts toward those things. Do you want to start meeting up with your buddy for coffee once a week? Do you want to go to the gym again, or do you want to take the kids to school with you instead? Concentrate on increasing your self-assurance and comfort in the areas where you answered “yes.”
If there’s something you really want to do – or something you’d prefer not to do, but there’s no space for bargaining! – here are some CBT-based methods that can help you get there where you want to go faster and more effectively.
Making your way up the ladder begins with making a list of the things you’d want to perform again and placing them in descending order from the one that seems the simplest to the one that feels the most difficult. Walking to an outdoor market may seem somewhat safe, while going inside a clothing store, for example, may seem scary to certain people. As long as you take care of things in that sequence, you’ll be more confident.
Slow and steady exposure:
For example, if you’d want to go to a clothing store again, break the action down into little pieces first. Start by leaving the home and traveling into town on the first day. When you get at your destination, get off the bus and take a stroll along the main street. Next time, go inside the store and have a look around. With each stage, you’ll feel a little more nervous, but the worry should diminish with each repetition.
If you need data quickly, a behavioural experiment may be worth your time. In the event that you go clothing shopping, what do you think would happen? In other words, “I’ll become nervous around the store and have a panic attack” or “I’d want to wear a mask in town but I’ll be mocked” are both possible outcomes. Is this something that is likely to happen? Then put the prediction to the test by going into town and entering the store to see what occurs. Very frequently, individuals discover that their forecast does not come true, or that if it does, they are better equipped to deal with the situation than they anticipated.
Finally…and maybe most crucially…
Take note of your progress. When you’ve made a significant stride forward, take a moment to reflect on your accomplishment. Instead of comparing what you can accomplish today to what you were doing during your most difficult moment of confinement, look at what you were doing ‘pre Covid.’ Celebrate your little victories as well as your large victories!