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Feeling Anxious? Try Using Slogans.

As the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads globally, there is an increase in anxiety and panic.  Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, canned food, bread, milk, eggs and medications are flying off store shelves.  Businesses and schools spent weeks sending out information about the virus and providing guidance on handwashing procedures to help control the spread of the virus before getting shut down completely. The government is implementing new restrictions for citizens every day and the stock market is plummeting. At this point, we can’t escape COVID-19 because News and Social Media headlines are frequent, alarming and stirring up emotions and fear with people.

Human beings typically don’t react well to scary things. In fact, the things we invest our fear in are sometimes the things that are most unrealistic. For example, many people fear crashing when they fly in an airplane when we are more likely to get in a car crash at a busy intersection.

Some fear can be good because it alerts us to potential threats to our safety and keeps us vigilant, but we have to be very careful we don’t let our level of fear become unmanageable. Anxiety is a natural and common feeling that may cause worried thoughts, nervousness, agitation, tension, a racing heart and chest pain.  While some levels of anxiety are natural, anxiety disorders are more extreme and involve severe physical responses, intense fear and it can interfere with daily activities. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year,  approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder, and 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are feeling panic and anger over the bare shelves at the stores, quarantines and the unknown impact of the pandemic.  Unfortunately, individual citizens have little control over what happens as this progresses, therefor many people are left feeling like they can’t control their own destiny.

Are you feeling anxious about this potential global pandemic?   Are you struggling to control these anxious feelings and find ways to stay grounded during this difficult time? There are many coping strategies available to people but one that doesn't get as much attention is using slogans.

Slogans are powerful.

Recovery groups such as Al-anon and Alcoholics Anonymous have a variety of slogans that are used in their 12-step programs that offer quick reassurance to people that they really are able to cope with whatever life brings no matter how bad their situation is. These slogans are brief reminders of important truths. These simple slogans prompt people in recovery to take constructive action and treat themselves and others with compassion and respect.

According to Al-Anon Family Groups, “Recovery program practices and principals can take a while to learn and apply, but slogans are easy to learn and remember.  You may have heard some of these slogans hundreds of times before without ever taking them seriously or trying to put them to work. After all, they are cliches, and easy to disregard. But it is their very simplicity that makes them so powerful.”

Even if you are not in a recovery program, these slogans can be very useful. 

Slogans can help you pause and anchor your thinking when you feel yourself losing control. They can help you keep the proper perspective on your life and guide you back to strength and hope when dealing with a difficult situation.

Below are 10 Al-Anon Slogans that can help you with anxiety and fears you may have in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Try writing them on post-it notes, stick them on your bathroom mirror, set an alarm on your phone for one slogan to go off every hour, or place them on the dashboard of your car.  Keep these slogans visible and accessible and over time you will find they will help ground you.

  1. "Let it begin with me”: This slogan can be used to remind you that you are responsible for your own actions and behaviors.  You need to focus on taking action to change the things you can change. It is a good reminder to take the responsibility to get your own needs met, rather than waiting for others to change or to meet your needs for you.

  2. “Think”: This simple word can be used to help you remember to think before you act on or react to situations so you make good decisions about how to act. Pausing and reflecting on this word helps free you from distorted thinking and impulsive, potentially destructive decision-making.

  3. “How Important Is it?”:  This slogan provides perspective. It can help you determine what is of most value to you personally and avoid being upset over things that are of minimal importance at the moment.  It is a great reminder to appreciate the good things that life offers.

  4. “Keep it Simple”: Underneath it all, the simplest solutions are often the most effective ones. This slogan can help you evaluate what is really happening versus what you imagine is happening.  It is a good reminder to take a reasonable, step by step approach to anything difficult, rather than act out of fear or panic.

  5. “Easy Does It”: Trying to force solutions does not work.  This slogan can help you remember that you may not be able to solve every problem in the time frame you wish to solve it in, and truthfully some problems may not be for you to solve. This slogan can help you recognize that sometimes a gentler, more patient approach is more effective and less frustrating.

  6. “First Things First”: This slogan is a reminder to set reasonable priorities and keep a realistic perspective.  This can guide you to make choices you are comfortable with, and act with balance rather than react to crisis.

  7. “Let Go and Let God”: Let go of trying to control things you can not control.  This slogan is important to remind you that when your attempts at control are not working and you feel like we have run out of options and don’t know what to do, you need to trust that a power greater than yourself will help you when the time is right.

  8. “But For the Grace of God”: Be compassionate with others. Use this slogan to help you avoid impatience, criticism, resentment, and vengefulness which does harm to you as well as others.

  9. “Keep an Open Mind”: This slogan is a great reminder to be open to ideas from sources that you might not have imagined could be helpful. Take advantage of all opportunities.

  10. “Live and Let Live”: The “Live” part of this slogan is a great reminder to take care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The “Let live” part of this slogan is a great reminder that we need to allow others the dignity of making their own decisions and experience the consequences of their decisions and choices.  Minding your own business allows you from feeling responsible for changing another person.

If these slogans resonate with you, consider hanging this poem written by an unknow author somewhere you will read it often. It is a simple way of putting all of the slogans in one location.

How can you cope with COVID-19?

Coping with anxious feelings and staying ground during this scary and unknown time of the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately boils down to control and personal mindset.  What can you control in the present moment? How can you have a positive mindset?

  1. Educate yourself. Find the facts beyond the headlines.  Actively look for information that balances out the negative headlines.

  2. Figure out things you personally have control over.  Think about time management strategies. Reduce commitments, create plans for upcoming actions, focus on one task at a time, use planners and calendars, and break down projects. Wash your hands, stay home, follow the CDC guidelines, figure out what you can do to plan for quarantine such as working from home. Determine what items will you need to be successful for working at home and create some contingency plans. Read more strategies in the blog post, Do You Thrive in Chaos?

  3. Clear your headspace by taking walks, getting exercise, spending time outside, practicing meditation or other mindfulness activities. Read more strategies in the blog post, Coping With Stress, Are You Resilient? 

  4. Keep yourself healthy by getting enough sleep, exercise, and eat well. Read more about sharpening the saw and balancing the four human dimensions in the blog post, Maintaining Constant Energy, Is It Possible?

  5. Avoid melodramatic language and use language that implies that you trust yourself to meet challenges as they arise. A negative mind will never give you a positive life.  There will always be what if scenarios. Read more about positive mindset in the blog posts, Prescription for a Peaceful Mind and You are Less Defeated Than you Think You Are.

  6. Avoid fear-mongers.  Just as you try to minimize exposure to viruses, you also need to minimize exposure to people who fuel stress.Take a break from the toxic and avoid over watching the news if it stirs up fear.  Read more strategies about taking control of your own emotions in the blog post, Don’t Fret or Fume, Create Your Own Happiness.

There is nothing like staying home for real comfort. Jane Austen
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