Picture the little kid crying in front of Mom. She’s wagging a finger at him saying, “I’ll give you something to cry about!” Anyone else feeling that way or is it just me? Terrorism, recession, and now what? Swine flu? Oy! What’s next? A plague of locusts?
Once again the media pounces and every five minutes we are hounded by how we shouldn’t panic. So much of what’s in the news right now is about as helpful as someone yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. “We don’t want you to panic, but there might be a three alarm blaze in the lobby.” Really, is that helpful?
So what can we do to address our anxiety over this crisis du jour? Treatment for situational anxiety doesn’t change much even if the trigger causing it does. Which is why the same advice I gave for Anxiety And The Plane Crash In Clarence, NY is basically applicable for Anxiety and Swine Flu.
Turn off the radio or television. Get off the news blogs. This is the best advice I can give you. Our brains and bodies are not made to assimilate repeated traumatic news force fed by 24 hour news networks. All we achieve is overloaded circuits and increased anxiety. Allow yourself to walk away from the news and come back to it occasionally for updates. When you must get information about the swine flu, exercise the control you have and get the best information you can, e.g. at the Centers for Disease Control’s website for the US and at the World Health Organization globally.
Breathe. Deep and slow. If you begin to feel the yellow flag signals of anxiety coming on (increased heart rate, shallow breathing, tense muscles, sweaty palms…) use your coping tools to keep the fear under control. Don’t run away from the feeling. Stop and breathe through it. Keep breathing; make yourself as comfortable as possible. Allow your everyday tasks at work and at home to distract you.
The best antidote to anxiety is action. What can you do besides washing your hands? Get outside and exercise, exercise, exercise! Process that adrenaline by working out. Our yards and gardens call for care, our kids want to play basketball. After an hour of play you will be able to focus again.
Be calm for your kids. If you have small children, they need you to be grounded and practical. Answer their questions as directly as you can without elaborating. If they ask: “Will I get sick and die?” or “Will you get sick and die?” Answer directly, “We all get sick sometimes but there’s absolutely no reason to think we will die from it. Now where’s your homework?”
Don’t give in to the anxious thoughts. Fight back. Practice mindfulness. Substitute visions of mayhem with prayer and meditation. Give your worry over to your higher power. Give yourself the oxygen of balanced thinking. If you have a history of anxiety disorder or OCD you may have a particularly hard time with this. Go to Swine Flu: A Special Warning To Those With OCD for guidance.
Inoculate yourself with humor. We humans love to laugh at our adversity. It’s a gift that separates us from the animals. A quick search on the Net supplied this:
“The only known cure for Swine Flu has been found to be the liberal application of oinkment.”