Here in France, we are at Step 2 of our De-confinement. The curfew tonight moves from 19h to 21h. All non-essential shops will open again. Restaurants will open again to receive customers on their terraces.
Many of us are rejoicing at this much longed-for freedom, but there are just as many of us who are anxious about it.
If you are feeling worried that another flare-up will follow in the wake of our newfound freedom, you are not alone.
Whether you are blissfully happy or profoundly uncomfortable, you have a right to your emotions. If you are happy, you do not have to temper your emotions so as not to alarm those around you. If you are worried, you do not have to put on a brave face so as not to spoil the happiness of others.
Having said that, it is useful to remember that you do have a choice. If worrying about the future, is affecting you in a harmful way, you can change your negative, disturbing, harmful thoughts to useful, positive, helpful thoughts. You are not a victim of your thoughts, you can intercept your thoughts, and change them to serve you instead of harm you.
The trick is to train yourself to notice the moment an unhelpful thought pattern starts. This is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes I only notice that I am worrying after I have been at it for some time. It is difficult to then try to change my thoughts, no matter how much energy I put into it.
I was taught, while studying to become a doctor, that prevention is better than cure, and experience has taught me that this is true. So how to prevent a negative thought pattern from starting?
I have read about positive affirmations, and how people have used them successfully to counteract negative thoughts. If they work for you, then you can prevent negative thoughts by repeating positive affirmations at regular intervals throughout the day. Hourly, if that is what it takes. Something like “I can handle whatever life throws at me.”
For me, they have been less effective, as I can never manage to formulate an affirmation that I can believe without thinking, “Yes, but…”
My solution is to concentrate on breathing and count my blessings. I breathe in and out slowly, and focus on feeling the air rush into and out of my lungs. I list 5 things that I am grateful for, not only when I first wake up and note these in my gratitude journal, but whenever I start to feel anxious. Sometimes I need to do this hourly. I look around and list the things that I can see that I appreciate, always starting by reminding myself how grateful I am that I can still see. I think about what I can hear, feel, taste, smell at that moment. This anchors me in the present, and helps me not to fret about the past or worry about the future.
I highly recommend this technique if you are suffering from post-pandemic anxiety. Try it out for yourself, and let me know how you got on.
If you like this vignette of my life here in Gascony, you can escape to the south of France for a virtual visit by subscribing to my mailing list HERE.
Now taking reservations for my Wellness Retreats: the Introduction to Intermittent Fasting Retreat, Walking and Wine Tasting retreat, Write Your Story Writers’ Retreat, Connect and Communicate with Horses Retreat, and reinvent yourself with the virtual/residential Your Magical Future Retreat.