The past 18 months have been hard. Most of us (including myself) have experienced some sort of loss. Fear and anxiety are at an all-time high, and for some, it is downright debilitating. It doesn’t help that we continue to be bombarded with nonstop fear-mongering news. From the continuation of the pandemic to possible food and gas shortages; from natural disasters to conflicts over health choices and politics. It’s enough to make all of us crawl back in bed and not come out until this mess has all been figured out.
Well, as much as I love my bed, I know that is an unrealistic choice.
FEAR can be debilitating if left to its own devices. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the fear that is associated with being chased by a bear. I’m talking about the fear of what could happen. It can cause havoc to your mental, physical and emotional well-being. I know because I felt it. It paralyzed me for a period of time. Thankfully, I was able to pull out of it by following a few simple steps. If you are feeling the fear of ‘what if’, perhaps these steps will help you too.
5 Simple ways to move past your ‘what if’ fear and live joyfully again.
- Stay off the news. I’m not saying ignorance is bliss because it’s not. Find a fact-only site and research for yourself what is going on. More than likely it’s not as bad as you think. Critical thinking is a very important skill to have when it comes to interpreting what you are reading. Don’t let some fear-mongering hack who is trying to make money get you sucked in. You are smart. Research for yourself. If you understand, you can eliminate most of the fear associated with it. (Speaking of researching, if you are looking for information on the pandemic, vaccines, etc. may I suggest Dr. Zubin Damania. I trust him for so.many.reasons, and you may like him too. He can be found here.)
- Stay off social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms are huge time sucks. Your time could be better spent reading books, cooking delicious meals, finishing a project, or just about anything else. I do not use Twitter or Facebook and have taken Instagram off of my phone. So much more peaceful. 🙂
- Take a walk. Nature has a way of making everything right with the world. There isn’t a tree, mountain, lake, or flower that I don’t like. I walk 3-5 miles every day, listening to uplifting podcasts and observing the changing of the seasons. It centers me for the day, and it doesn’t hurt that I get a dose of Vitamin D to boot.
- Take POSITIVE action. I realized I couldn’t control what was happening in the world, but I could take care of myself. And I did. I started taking vitamins, eating better, and exercising. I read everything there was to know about immunities and vaccines and I made sure I was vaccinated (Flu, Covid, and Shingles). I also made sure I had my annual mammogram and physical. Most importantly, I made sure my mind was protected. (See Nos. 1 & 2 above). Doing things that I could control helped me tremendously.
- GRATITUDE! – Yes, you knew this was going to be on the list, right? I saved the best for last. I truly believe instituting daily gratitude has changed my world. I’ve been turning things that could be construed as disappointing or heartbreaking into something to be grateful for. For example, when our trips got canceled last year, I wrote: I am grateful for having the extra money to pay down our mortgage so my husband can retire sooner. When my brother-in-law passed away suddenly, I wrote: I am grateful for the chance to have reconnected with him before he was taken from us. I’m grateful he is at peace after being sick for so long. (That one was hard, but in some strange way it helped.)
I try to live each day with positivity and joy. I visit with friends and family, plan trips, outings, and things I’ve always enjoyed doing. I’m no longer paralyzed with ‘what if’ fear. I know that things can change on a dime, and I can’t say that I’ll never grow fearful again. But I now know how to pivot and take positive actions. And, of course, to always find a way to be grateful.
Melody Beattie AUTHOR, JOURNALIST