November 19, 2021
The days are shorter and darker. Spring feels far away. While we like to think the pandemic's end is in sight, in reality…it is far from over. As we live into the holidays and winter, we are all posing plenty of valid questions that can fuel our anxiety:
- Is it safe to gather indoors with family and friends?
- Can I travel safely?
- Will cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, impacting our lives in significant ways?
- When can I get my booster and which one?
- Will I return to my workplace or adopt some kind of hybrid situation?
When Uncertainty Becomes Anxiety
It is normal to struggle with uncertainty. But if the worry gets too big, it can begin to get in the way. We can become stuck in anxious mode, moving through the day with a sense of uneasiness. Or anxiety bubbles up acutely at the strangest times, and we find ourselves tapping our feet and feeling tightness in our chest. And we don't even know why.
Distraction is Only Temporary
It's tempting to distract and zone out when that happens. Anxiety feels bad, so our natural impulse is to get away from it. The problem is, scrolling, Netflixing, and staying too busy do nothing to lessen the anxiety: it's right there waiting for you when you stop.
And in a weird way, it should be. Anxiety is a warning sign. It's the E on your internal gas tank, a flare that a deeper, more true feeling is setting off to get your attention. Anxiety is the alarm between you and what is often a painful negative emotion sitting just beneath it. When we can stay with and calm our anxiety, the truth we've been avoiding is there waiting for us to welcome it and learn from it.
Uncovering Your Emotions
You might discover you're holding on to a lot of grief from the accumulated losses of this past year. Or that you're really scared of what happens when life becomes somewhat normal again. You might learn you're angry at a world that took so much away.
All of these emotions are valid.
Send yourself some kindness in response, and then think about how you'd like to respond to the truths you've discovered about how you really feel.
When to Seek Help
It doesn't sound that complicated, but feeling your feelings can be really hard to do alone. If you’re having trouble calming anxiety, or identifying and accepting your feelings and figuring out what to do with them, it may be time to seek professional help. Many resources are available. Your primary care provider can assess your overall health picture and make appropriate recommendations.
If you are in need of immediate help, it is available 24/7. Don’t hesitate to reach out:
Lancaster County Crisis Intervention: 717-394-2631
Learn about Behavioral Health services at Lancaster General Health.