Dealing with anxiety during the pandemic.

Dealing with anxiety during the pandemic.

This Eid has been unlike any that I have experienced in my life. I said my Eid prayers at home; did not visit any relatives or meet any friends though the virtual meetings on Zoom did provide a quantum of solace (pun intended). I think everyone had mixed feelings during this Eid. It was a happy occasion mired by a pall of gloom on account of the continuing pandemic. A reader of my blog sent me a message asking how he should deal with the looming threat of losing his job. I gave this matter some thought and decided to write this article for the benefit of so many people who are suffering mental anguish during these uncertain times. This pandemic and the related lockdown has not just effected the employees; the owners of businesses are also very badly affected both financially and psychologically. A friend of mine who owns several garment factories recently called me and said that he had gone into a state of depression. An effervescent personality by nature, he said that he does not feel like speaking to anyone let alone meeting anyone. He has withdrawn into a room in his house where he sits quietly and stares out of the window smoking one after another cigarette. Versions of this scene have been playing across the world during the past few months as Covid-19 cases rise and economies crash. Business owners, managers and employees have seen how fragile everything they have built has become – almost overnight.

The medical term for such a condition is “Anxiety”. Depression can also be caused by anxiety. The challenge for the leader whether he is the family’s breadwinner or a business owner or a line manager is to convince his family and or his work team that everything will be fine when he himself is stricken by anxiety. And if he keeps this pressure bottled up inside him putting up a façade of calm then he may himself suffer severe psychological and physiological harm.

If one is suffering from anxiety then the first thing is to accept it. Anxiety is our response to a perceived danger or uncertainty about our health or our future. It is similar to the fight or flight response of our forebears when they were confronted by some predator in the jungle. This stress or anxiety prompted them to react appropriately to save their lives. In modern times our anxiety can be our call to action in facing the present day threat or uncertainty about our future. In a way people who suffer from anxiety are better suited to handle crises than others; they react quicker to the situation and if channeled effectively, anxiety makes people more resourceful in finding solutions to the problem. But if we fail to understand or accept our relationship with anxiety, it can be extremely debilitating. Like fire, anxiety is a useful slave but a bad master. Use it effectively but do not let it control you.

A common phenomenon with people suffering from anxiety is that they immediately conjure up the worst possible outcomes from any crisis. Remember that the worst is of course possible but it is not necessarily probable. For example, it is possible that you might lose your job and never find another good job but that is not necessarily a probability. It is also possible that you will get infected with the coronavirus but considering that to date not even 6million people in the world out of a population of 8 billion have been infected, the probability of you getting infected is pretty low (0.00075%). Separating the possible from the probable brings a much needed calm to be able to effectively deal with anxiety. The probable scenario is much more reassuring than the possible scenario.

Having accepted the presence of anxiety and having realized that we have to learn to live with it, we can turn our attention to the leadership role while afflicted with anxiety. Leadership can be at work or at home. Unless we manage our anxiety, it can have detrimental effects on the work team as well as the family members. Anxiety is infectious; if we are suffering from anxiety and displaying the adverse signs of affliction then the people around us can sense it and also be negatively affected by it. While it is important to be genuine in your interactions with people around you; to let them know that you are also human and therefore have human frailties, it is also necessary as a leader to provide that moral support to your team and your family. You need to assure them that while you will do everything in your power to overcome this crisis, bad things may still happen. Here again the possibility and the probability need to be separated so that everyone has a more realistic perspective of the situation. It is almost never as bad as it seems. But remember that while being positive is important to prevent emotional distress amongst those who you lead you should not give a false hope to anyone. If you get asked a question like “Is my job safe?” You do not have to answer that question because you do not have a preview into the future. All you can say is what you know to be true at this moment.

Anxiety being an illness also requires a treatment plan. I am personally averse to taking medicines so I do not recommend running to the doctor for a prescription of toxic drugs. While medicines are a necessary evil in our lives, I feel that for most ailments they are best avoided because they only provide a temporary relief and hardly ever manage to cure. In the long run their side effects are also severe. There are of course exceptions; for many serious illnesses, medicines are the only known recourse and experimenting with alternatives can be dangerous. For most of the non fatal ailments I think naturopathy is a far better option. It may be slow in showing results but it does offer a cure rather than just relief. For anxiety, naturopathic treatment is now accepted as a very effective alternative.

In naturopathy a lot of importance is given to improving the health of the mitochondria which is the powerhouse of your cells responsible for 90 percent of the energy being produced in your body. If your mitochondria is not performing well then nothing else will either. Ensuring mitochondria health requires a good diet, regular exercise and good sleep. Healthy mitochondria is the sine qua non for good health and wellbeing. I do not want to get into too much detail here but I would recommend that you find out more on naturopathic treatments on the internet. http://drbenkim.com/ is a useful source of information.

Spirituality does wonders for the distressed soul. Ibadat has always provided me with immense solace and relief in times of trouble but for those who have a different belief system, meditation can also be very helpful. For dealing with psychological maladies, the “Emotional Freedom Technique” (EFT) is one of the therapies that has shown positive results. Here is a link to get more information on EFT. https://eft.mercola.com/

And last but not the least, we must never forget the immense benefit of having a good dependable circle of friends. Friendship can be the greatest source of pleasure and in dark days it is friends who share our pain and give comfort to our wounds. To quote Marcus Cicero, “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery by doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.”

Comments (16)
  • Excellent and very effective write up at this point of time!
    For more than two months we are doing office from home and now it is the demand of time to come out of home and work efficiently and effectively to cover up the gaps of last two months and to have smooth continuity of work.
    Last 2/3 days an anxiety was peeping through in my mind that from 1st June how I would return home from outside without contamination so that my 3 years’ kid would remain safe from me.
    Going through the article I think I’ve got my answer, I’VE NO ANXIETY NOW and tonight I could have a sound sleep.

  • Thanks a lot Sir.
    Very much informative write up.
    Let us pray to Almighty for the safe and sound new normal beginning.
    May Allah bless us all. Best wishes for you.

    • Thank you very much for remarkable message and sympathise to us. Pearl Apt. B# 1

      • Dear Mr. Arshi,
        The topics you have written, is an appropriate at this COVID-19 Pandemic period. Really anxiety making people more weaker.
        Thank you.
        Marine Engr. S.M.Nizam Uddin.

  • Excellent write up
    Arshi you should write a book you are very good in writing I am impressed and you have very good grip on your vocabulary too that’s what makes it more interesting in writing

    Razzak Sattar

  • Dear Arshi Bhai,

    Assalamualaikum!

    Trust all is well with you.

    Read all your of articles and must admit all are very very well articulated. Happy for you to have found a great habit of writing and reaching out to us with nice and meaningful pieces of writing amid this terrible times.

    On your write today the topic of anxiety is indeed apt and timely. Agree with Razzak bhai to say you must write books as you are really good in writing.

    We are all suffering from this covid 19 inflicted anxiety consciously or unconsciously and indeed need to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health ie well-being . Agreeing to naturopathy to help fight anxiety instead of medicines want to add to say that we may also try and take Vitamin D from exposure of sun for at least 15-20 minutes ( with 60 % or more of body exposure) between 11:00 AM to 3 PM said to be best time for UVB absorption required to process vitamin D which is beneficial for health and needed to treat depression, anxiety and provides many other health benefits.

    May Almighty help us fight this menace – Ameen.

    Please stay safe, keep well and pray for us.

    Best regards

    Ahmad Jamal
    Mark Designers Ltd
    Megatek Engineering Pte Ltd

  • Dear A. Bhai
    Thanks a million for sharing the write up .
    Anxiety and depression is creeping into me and my wife as well. my house at the moment looks like a mini pharmacy. name the Covid protection product , and we have it . Even we bought oxygen cylinder and fitted in my bedroom. Just in case we need it . On top of all this , right behind my apartment I witnessed the devastating Fire at United hospital. Men and women screaming for help , but … people just watched them burn and die . Since than , it’s been very difficult for us to have a peaceful goodnight sleep . At the moment we are doing ebadat and exercise ( just walking ) and doing yoga to fight it out . Reading your article helped me a lot Arshi bhai . All this while I was thinking it’s only me who is going through this , but it seems many of us having similar attacks. You are right ,, talking to close friends also helps . Will check out both the links that you mentioned. Stay well . Allah will get us through this mess.

  • Sir, Thanks a lot for the article. Specially it will help us for overcoming the challenges moment.May Allah bless us.

  • All of us who work in the real estate sector is in tension due to the uncertainty of our lives, jobs, family and the company we work. We are all going through an uncertain time. During this epidemic, we as employees are thinking of ourselves as well as the owners.
    The owner is much tenser than us about his/her company and for his/her employees. The owner of the company is like the head of the family. The good and bad of the employees depend on the good and bad of their business. Every employee of the company is his/her asset to the owner of the company. How to run the company’s business at the moment and how to keep employees engaged in activities is a big challenge for the owner. And the tie to tackle this challenge is now the most severe cause of tension for the owners.

    The owner never wants his business to go bad or his officers and employees to go terrible. At the same time, indeed, an employee does not wish to take a salary from his company without any effort, but the time has brought both of them into crisis, which is embarrassing for all the employees.

    If the owner gets sick due to tension or if there is a problem, God forbid, then there is nothing left to do. So we want the owners to be stress-free. We as employees wish to the company to be running and in this time of crisis, if we try to give our best from our place, maybe we will be free from difficulty.

    Later, when the good times come, there is a lot to be done, but perhaps nothing can be done. One thing to keep in mind is that the danger is not just ours alone. This epidemic will not last a lifetime Inshallah, if we all try our best and support each other to the maximum, we will get relief from this disaster. Tension is now for everyone; this word must/ carry in everyone’s head.

    Thank you very much Arshi Haider Sir for presenting an excellent article on how to keep yourself free from tension in this critical situation and what can happen if all we are in tension. May Allah keep you and everyone who involved in real estate in the sector.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on a very important topic. Anxiety and a fear of the unknown in such trying times, is real. This new wave of mental illnesses which are being brought to surface due to covid -19, needs to be addressed and dealt with adequately and given due importance instead of simply shaken off in line for the next wave of anxiousness to overwhelm. Speaking from first hand experience, I got caught up in Singapore for a month due to the sudden cancellation of flights with no date on when they would resume. Usually, I am Alhamdullilah a very confident and strong personality, however one night I was overwhelmed with a Panic Attack due to the uncertainty of my situation. In a spacious room with over 12 ft ceilings, I was unable to breathe till I stepped outside, and then focused on counting 5 objects in front of me to ground myself and then called a friend who’s soothing words calmed me and made me realise that this situation is in ACTUALITY temporary. The point of sharing my story is, it can happen to anyone and it’s OKAY to feel this way sometimes or even once due to the life changing ordeal we are in at the moment. Learn the tools to calm yourselves there’s plenty of good resources online. It’ll help you and others if you share the knowledge. Peace and light. May we ALL come out of this stronger. In Sha Allah.

  • Dear Arshi,
    I have always appreciated your style of writing. Just a wonderful read.
    Stressors eminate from factors like psychological, social or environmental imbalances. And this Covid 19 pandemic is one such communicable disease which has created unending distress by jeopardising and disintigrating family, business, social life etc.
    Its great that you attributed to addressing these behavioural mindset issues and suggesting various stress busters which will help in perceiving anxiety from another direction and to escape from distress.
    Great job!
    Regards
    Ayub Hyder

  • Dear Arshi’
    Have read all your articles that you wrote in past couple of months Very interesting and in depth.
    Keep up the writing
    Best wishes
    Sohail Murshed

  • Another brilliant write up, Arshi. and the subject is so relevant to what the world is facing now. Anxiety, uncertainty and a sense of helplessness. We are so used to living in a fairly predictable lifestyle, then this unprecedented situation has all of us shook to our core. You are so right that we need to find comfort, solace and some form of peace. Personally, I find my solace in Ebadah. Also keeping your normal routine somewhat helps, like waking up at a designated time, not staying up too late, light good meals, some form of exercise. All this helps me a lot. Of course, I have my own unique anxiety that I do not get to see two of my three children. Even my eldest who comes to see me, talks from my driveway and leaves. This is indeed a very ‘heart breaking’ situation for me personally. But, knowing they are safe is perhaps the best Blessing I have.
    Great article, Dosto. Look forward to your write ups always. Take care. Stay Safe & Stay Well.

  • Thank you very much sir for designing a very nice contemporary article, especially for:
    1. Definition of anxiety and its consequences
    2. Naturopathy with religious meditation
    3. possibility & probability method

    Please write up something about “Political racism” throughout the world.

  • Another excellent written. Every time we learn from you. Allah bless you. We are waiting for your next article. Thanks.

  • This is an empowering essay. The tone is balanced and objective which immediately makes the content credible. The content covers much ground, but does it in just the right pace. There are several illuminating points, including the difference between probable and possible, the worries about worst possible outcomes, being a leader during crisis, the values of friendships during hard times and the rock solid support that spirituality gives us. I have re-read this essay several times and drawn strength and succor from it each time. Thank you Arshi Haider for writing this and sharing it with us.

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