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Crisis management 101: Advice from your Anxiety Aunt

There are mass feelings of impending doom all around us, recently.

As someone more than used to carrying those feelings around on a regular basis, I’m currently feeling better equipped than ever to impart some tips I hope are helpful.

Impending doom should be my middle names, but my mum settled for something a little more average.

I’ll level with you now, it’s not a nice feeling to have. I often describe it to people as a constant feeling of having forgotten something, because it’s been so constant for me that it is more of a vague awareness that causes a pit in my stomach.

The one thing I’d like to make very clear before I jump into a few actionable tips is you are not alone.

As much as statements like that sometimes come across as a bit too Disney for my personal tastes, in this case it’s very much true.

We’re being bombarded constantly by all media outlets in 24/7 crisis mode, seeing people queuing outside supermarkets around the block with face masks on and it’s enough to make anyone feel stressed and anxious.

As your anxiety-aunt (self-certified, thanks) I want to impart some thoughts for consideration that you may find useful.

Turn off your notifications

I was surprised myself at the amount of news notifications I’m receiving at the minute, especially considering the sensitive nature of current news.

Nobody is going to feel 100% when they’re receiving updates every half an hour on statistics, infection numbers and empty shelves.

Being exposed to this type of content day after day when we’re already in social isolation is not beneficial to anyone.

Filter out those hashtags, turn off news notifications and allocate a specific time to look at a reputable news source later in the day.

Remember that news outlets thrive on sensationalism.

(I advise later in the day, as we’re all rather unaware about just how susceptible we are to soaking up negative emotions in the morning just from scrolling through newsfeeds).

Take it with a pinch of salt

Nobody on social media is held accountable for their opinions they display as fact, sadly.

There are a lot of middle-aged women sharing pictures of ‘the armed forces in London’, convinced we’re going to be kept inside at the end of a tank cannon.

Between the ‘holding your breath for 10 seconds without strain means you don’t have the virus’, to ‘salt-gargling’ methods, social media is full of some impressive bullshit.

Ignore those posts with glee, in the knowledge that once this has all passed, these same women are the ones sharing statuses saying ‘I don’t give Facebook permission to access my information’, as if Mark Zuckerberg is in shock over Bernadette finding the loophole in their questionable privacy terms.

Reach out

I hate phone calls. Really, anyone who knows me can attest to this.

I’ll watch that contact flash on my screen and fully avoid sliding my finger across the screen to answer a call unless I know it’s urgent.

However, given the circumstances, even I have to be an advocate for the importance of phone calls and video calls over texts.

We’ve all been there, reading texts and interpreting them as completely different to how they were intended.

Video calls are a great way to connect with the individuals who are at high risk, facing down a very sizeable duration of social isolation who will probably find immense comfort in seeing your face.

Plus, people now know how much of a mess I am at home when I show up for work-related video calls draped in a blanket looking like a Salfordian grim reaper.

Take time for yourself

We all have hobbies that have likely been neglected due to work. Whether it’s reading, writing, painting, playing an instrument or even watching a TV show you’ve not caught up on, now’s the time to revel in that feeling again.

You know the one, when you’re not in a rush to do anything or go anywhere and it comes naturally?

There’s really not a better time to pick up the things you’ve neglected than right now.

It’s also an ideal time to pick up new hobbies and skills, such as learning languages or following tutorials on Youtube for crafts.

Get inventive and have something to brag about when you return to the office!

Be compassionate

We’re all adapting differently. Things like bulk buying and spreading false facts can be frustrating, but people are scared.

The media has a lot to answer for in terms of being a catalyst for panic and then profiting on it with endless streams of content because of it.

There’s already acts of kindness cropping up in a lot of places, which is great. It’s as simple as offering whatever you can in whichever way is best for you.

Be it a phone call to an elderly relative, or delivering shopping to the door of someone in self-isolation, or even just checking in on those you know who are struggling, we can all make a massive difference with small acts of kindness.

It is an odd time for all of us, and the way we’re all having to adapt is completely unique depending on the person.

I won’t pretend like there’s no reason to have concerns, but instead, try to reason that taking a step back occasionally to clear our heads as much as we can, so we can then take small steps moving forward, will make a huge difference in how we come out of this in terms of our wellbeing.

Stay safe and remember that if we notice the signs of anxiety in ourselves more often, we’re better equipped to handle it!