What can we do to help our anxiety?

Dr. Gregory Jantz offers some concrete steps

Series: Coronavirus | Story 58

Last updated 3/26/2020 at 9:09am

The Washington State Department of Health, in a public service announcement:

“Disease outbreaks bring feelings of helplessness and worry. Social distancing is absolutely necessary right now to protect ourselves and the people we love. And it comes with a cost. It is massively disruptive to our lives, and it takes away many of the usual outlets we have for blowing off steam.”

Dr. Gregory Jantz, public speaker and longtime owner of the Edmonds-based The Center: A Place of Hope, says he can see this helplessness in his practice that treats depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and other issues.

Jantz is a 40-year resident of Edmonds who has had his business for 37 years.

“I have seen several times in the past where we have the ability to come together and serve each other in amazing ways,” he said this week.

“There is a deep family heritage in our community of being there for each other. I am noticing respect among our residents for the governor’s orders. … I have particularly noticed lately the friendliness and the reaching out of 6 feet away when talking to one another. We really are shoulder to shoulder, 6 feet apart.”

Jantz has written two books on overcoming anxiety, worry, and fear.

Jantz talks about anxiety caused by the pandemic

Anxiety comes in different forms and worry; it’s a mental process where we rehearse a lot of "what else." Anxiety is when we have physical symptoms – we may have sweaty palms, disruptive sleep, increased heart rate and shallow breathing, and general aches and pains. Anxiety takes an impact on our physical well-being which then, in turn, affects us emotionally.

This is a (time) in which we may experience anxiety. We need to understand that anxiety affects our perceptions of reality. We become hypersensitive and, if not careful, can allow panic to begin to emerge in our lives. Panic puts us on the edge of despair, where we become even more irrational in our thinking. We need to be careful that we do not make decisions out of panic.

I recommend having two to three individuals who are anchor points of truth for you. This could be a close friend, a pastor, or a professional counselor. We want to deal with reality from the vantage point of a sound mind, which at times can be challenging.

Begin each day by writing down three gratitudes – this is a good time to consider starting a gratitude journal. There is good happening; we have much higher numbers of people testing negative for coronavirus, and we have people recovering – this is good news. We do not see enough of the other side of hope; a steady diet of media will create anxiety.

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We do need to deal with reality, so if we live in anxiety and panic we may not be doing appropriate self-care for ourselves and caring for our family. We will miss opportunities to serve in the community.

I am recommending, besides gratitude, to do the simple things. Who in our neighborhood may we need to check on? We may find that we are so self-absorbed that we forget the needs of others.

You might want to consider also keeping your water levels up; when we have high anxiety, we tend not to drink water. We’re watching alcohol consumption increase as well as other self-destructive behaviors, including turning to food as a source of comfort.

This is an opportunity to reset personal priorities, to reinvest in the relationships that really matter and look around in our Edmonds community.

Speak a good word each day and remember: Who is the one person that I can help?


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