Nearly everyone I talk to these days is feeling more anxious than usual, and what’s “usual” now is already a state of mild tension. Worry is highly contagious, and while the gentle souls with sensitive nervous systems are particularly at risk, most people are at least slightly vulnerable. Worry is not just a side effect of what’s going on in this world. Worry itself causes all kinds of health, mental health, relationship, and financial breakdowns. I am not suggesting you start worrying about how much you worry! But it’s time we start talking about the importance of clearing out the junk in our minds and creating health and balance there instead.
When bad things happen, and those bad things threaten to become more powerful, it’s tempting to go into major contraction, to hunker down and hope to be spared. But we all got on this roller coaster ride of life, and we all know being born means someday dying. So how do you want to be while you’re here in these times of uncertainty? How do you want to live this? If you don’t want worry to steal your joy, it’s essential to build immunity with embodied practice and mind-style change.
The first and most obvious preventative measure is to take in only as much information as you need to make good, practical decisions, and then sign off. Beyond this primary discipline, here are a few reminders for immunity-boosting:
(1) Regularly check on the state of your nervous system. Is your fight or flight switch stuck in the “on” position? If so, turn it off. Keeping that switch on when there is no immediate, present danger is like leaving the lights on in your house when you leave. The lightbulbs will eventually burn out, and you’ll have wasted a lot of energy. Just imagining the switch-off is sometimes enough; other times breathwork paired with intention will do the trick. If you don’t know how to meditate or ground yourself, it’s easy to learn. Just google or reach out for individual guidance. (Side note: for maintenance, no fancy therapy can replace the essentials of movement, rest, digestion, and touch.)
(2) When worry takes hold after hearing about an epidemic, violent shooting, natural disaster, politics, or something in your personal life, make two lists: What I Can Do and Out of My Hands. Now you’ve got a To-Do list to act on and probably a much longer list you can happily be freed from. I personally feel such sweet relief when I catch a thought about something I can’t control and say to myself, “Thank goodness I don’t have to worry anymore.” On a related note, if you experienced trauma or negative conditioning from institutionalized religion, and it’s turned you off to the concept of prayer, maybe it’s time to reclaim your own connection to everything you can’t understand or control. Prayer doesn’t mean you need to believe in some kind of man in the sky or creed. Prayer can be the act of humbly recognizing you are but one small being in this unfathomable universe, affirming to yourself, “It’s OK. I can not fix this.” Afterwards, turn your attention to bodily sensations and your environment in present time. This is where the real action is taking place. Worry is always a game of negative make-believe.
(3) If you have any subconscious or conscious belief that worry is keeping you safe, question it. Have the bad things that happened to you been things you worried about beforehand? If so, how did that worry protect you when they happened? Who would you be without worry? When the analysis paralysis of those questions tires you, go have some fun. The best remedy for too much seriousness is some absolutely nonproductive, only-for-the-joy-of-it playtime. Tragedy desperately needs its comedy.
Collectively, we are experiencing a flare-up of an already chronically inflamed condition. We are not the only people in history to go through turbulent times, but modern Western society has left many feeling separate and alone. We have the opportunity now to reconnect, to remember the preciousness of this short life, our loved ones, and all the many luxuries we have taken for granted. The harder it gets out there, the more softening we need with each other. You can make a difference for yourself and everyone around you. People with courage and calm nervous systems are medicine for this crazy world.
Wishing you a total overflow of soothing relaxation and ease,
Sign up here to receive monthly reflections on community healing and self-empowerment.
PS–If you’re ready to set some boundaries with anxiety and worry, you can check out my holistic psychotherapy for women. Some clients come weekly, while others space out our sessions and do self-help practice in between. If I’m not the right fit for you, there are many other healers out there. What matters more than any particular certification is that you feel like you can be yourself in their presence. So if you haven’t found that support yet, don’t give up! Sometimes it just takes a little while.
PPS–Dearest Community Wellness Hour participants, CWH has been put on pause for a short time, as AOMA is following certain preventative guidelines recommended for healthcare organizations. I’ll be updating you on my newsletter as soon as we resume, but if you have other questions, please contact AOMA directly or check their website. My colleagues and I began this project three years ago in response to large-scale crises and rising levels of stress, so please know, we are committed to this community healing work. This is not the end; it is only a pause, or as I like to see it, a time to be reborn.
One thought on “Building immunity to the worry virus”
Pingback: Building Immunity to the Worry Virus – Austin Wellness Collaborative