I work with many people to lower their levels of anxiety and consequently improve their quality of life. I help them shift their focus from fear of the future to what is happening in the present. If they can focus on what is real and what is happening now and not on their mental creation of impending doom they will feel a sense of calm. It can be a magical moment when they come to the realization that the anxiety and panic they have lived with was never real. At least not "real" in the sense that they thought it was.
Recently, I was watching the news and the story was about how people were panic buying due to the Coronavirus. The reporter interviewed a man that had waited in line for 90 minutes and purchased $900 worth of groceries. What I found interesting was that he didn’t intend to stock up in this way. He went to do his normal shopping and got caught up in the frenzy. I believe his exact words were, “I saw everyone grabbing stuff, so I started to panic and started grabbing stuff too….”
I believe there is a difference between being prepared and making purchases out of panic. Panic happens when we play out the worst possible scenario in our minds with little evidence to support the outcome we are imagining. We see these outcomes so clearly in our minds eye that our brain goes on a mission to search for evidence to support this fictitious truth. A truth that is really nothing but a creation of our imagination.
What is your imagination doing to you right now? Are you searching for information to support why the latest Facebook post you read must be true? Are you making plans to go the grocery store because you are wondering if the toilet paper frenzy might have merit? After all, so many people that are stocking up can’t be wrong, can they?
To anybody that is feeling panicked by this current situation I ask you to consider what you know to be true vs. what your mind is creating for you as an imagined truth. Ask yourself how much time you are devoting to your imaginary truth.
If you are spending too much time thinking about scary “what if” scenarios, you are creating anxiety. Anxiety is fear of something that has not happened yet. Be careful, be diligent, educate yourself on how to help contain this virus.
Most importantly, understand that nothing good will come from focusing on negative future events that are not likely to materialize.