Everyone seems to be suffering from anxiety these days, to a certain extent. If it’s not rising and falling Covid cases, geopolitical unrest, supply chain issues and travel woes, polarity, social media or the latest catastrophic headlines, it’s figuring out how to live in a post-pandemic world.
Dr Ayat Mekki is an Abu Dhabi-based ThetaHealing practitioner and Neuro-Linguistic programming coach and trainer, can relate. The key to managing anxiety and stress? To focus on what is certain and what we can control. Here’s her advice on how.
“Anxiousness increases as a result of uncertainty and feelings of not being in control,” she explains. “During times like this, our responses may vary from isolation or making irrational decisions, to extreme anxiety and symptoms that some clinicians liken to signs of PTSD.
She reminds us that we have only ever been able to control our thoughts and how we respond to situations. When anxiety and fear take over, the body releases the hormone adrenaline and we enter our fight or flight state. That’s when we abandon the things that can keep us calm and give in to our physiological response that can include rapid breathing and heartbeat, trembling and tensing and more. While this state is natural and essential, in emergencies, for some of us, it’s gone on far too long.
“The challenge begins when we continue in this state for prolonged periods as a response to the world around us, causing what we know today as stress,” she explained.
Start with your alarm
“There are many ways you can support yourself to deal with challenges and manage stress. For example, how you start your day is key. Many alarms come with features that include sounds of nature and softer sound you can begin waking up to 15 minutes before your intended time, so that the body is able to wake up gently. If you’re a heavy sleeper, you can still set your regular alarm to go afterwards.”
Stick to a morning routine
If the first thing you do when waking is to check your phone, check the news or respond to your messages, you’re setting yourself up for reactivity instead of responsiveness, and you’ll find that cycle being repeated throughout your day. Instead, postpone looking at your phone until you’ve completed your morning routine. That routine can be as long or as short as you want and can vary based on the time you can spare each morning. Whether you’re a stay at home parent or a full-time employee or a business owner, you can find something that works for you. The key is to incorporate easy and consistent practices that help you tackle the day. An example of a quick morning routine is taking a few deep breaths, practicing gratitude, a quick five-minute guided meditation, and having breakfast, all completed before checking your phone.”
Acknowledge how you feel
“Ignoring or suppressing how you feel is a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. It can only take you so far. Acknowledge how you feel, challenge your thoughts, and connect with yourself about what stresses you out. This helps you become stronger internally and will protect you from the side-effects of suppression, like lack of sleep, mood swings, irrational thinking and decision-making, and reactivity.”
Control the controllable
“Building your immunity up naturally, taking necessary precautions, eating healthy, exercising and having good self-care are all decisions you can make that are within your control. Focus on positive thinking and taking care of your mental health as a priority. Learn to ask for support and seek help with a mental health professional if you find yourself unable to cope. Lastly, stay optimistic and take life one day at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.”
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.