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  • Writer's pictureDr. Heather Violante, PsyD

How to Decrease Anxiety and Feel Successful During the Pandemic

We’re all adjusting to this new way of life, but it could be making you feel anxious or stressed. We may have set goals for 2020 or had an idea as to where we would be in life, but the coronavirus threw us all a curveball. The good news is that the pandemic and quarantine gave us the time to think about our goals, reflect on our lives, and decide where we want to be. It forced us to slow down and think about success and what that means. 

Do you feel anxious and unsuccessful?

Many people reach a point in their lives when they start to feel anxious or even depressed about where they are and what they’ve accomplished. Or perhaps you feel stuck, complacent, or even bored. Do you find yourself needing to achieve more? Wanting to check more off of the list of your accomplishments? At what point in your life will you have achieved enough? With your current way of thinking, do you think you’ll ever be or do enough?

These feelings of dissatisfaction could be heightened because of the pandemic. 2020 isn’t exactly what we thought it would look like. This time can be especially difficult if aspects of your job changed significantly, you lost your job, there was a change in family dynamics, or you are disconnected from friends, family, or significant others. 

Letting Go of the “Shoulds”

When we focus on where we should be in our lives, it detracts from our ability to focus on and celebrate where we are presently and what we have already accomplished. When you’re worried about not being successful enough, whether you’ve set those expectations yourself or it’s based on comparing yourself to others, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, disappointed, and anxious. And on top of that, the pandemic can heighten your feelings of anxiety, stress, or loneliness.

Rather than letting those feelings of anxiety and frustration defeat you, listen to what they’re telling you and use them to reevaluate where you are in life. This time of change and uncertainty can be used to our advantage. Many people have extra time to themselves, or have fewer outside distractions. Take this opportunity to redefine your idea of success and then take the steps to make positive changes.

How do you currently define success?

When you take a look at how you define success, it’s important to think about where your definition stems from. Is it pressure from your family? Are you comparing yourself to your peers? Are you spending too much time on social media? When you let others define success for you, you end up thinking about what you should be doing, where you should be in life, what you should have. You let others’ ideas of success rule your own thought, rather than defining your success based on your own values and priorities. No matter what, you’ll always feel unsuccessful and unaccomplished. Has your definition of success served you or inhibited you? Do you feel proud of your accomplishments or still not good enough?

How to Feel Successful (During the Pandemic)

Setting Boundaries

One of the silver linings of this pandemic is that it has made it easier to set boundaries. It’s now even easier to decide how we spend our time and with whom. It’s easier to say no to people and to say no to going to events. We have been given the opportunity to define our own boundaries rather than other people defining them for ourselves. The external distractions and pressures have decreased. We can set aside time for self-care and self-reflection. Many of us are realizing that we’ve been neglecting our own passions. Pressure from family and society coerced you into doing things we didn’t want to do, rather than doing things that are important to you and truly make you happy.

What are your values and priorities?

Now that you’re off of auto pilot, and not just going through the motions of life, what are your values and priorities? The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate our relationships and what is important to us. What we thought we wanted before Covid-19 might not be in line with what we want now or what we ever wanted.

Who we surrounded ourselves with in the past and who we want to be with now might not be the same. Whether your priorities were your family, a good career, exercise, etc., you may have to adjust your priorities and your definition of success so it’s suitable now. Don’t feel guilty for shifting your values and priorities - it’s a good idea to reevaluate them every so often and change how you live your life so they’re in alignment.

How Self-Care Can Lead to Success

With the added stressor of coronavirus, this is the time to take care of yourself. If you want to feel successful and fulfilled, how you spend your time should align with your needs, values, and priorities. Self-care and success go hand-in-hand. Many people have a superficial understanding or misunderstanding of what self-care actually means. Some people think it’s spending money on expensive yoga classes or lattes. Others think it’s being selfish.

Both self-care and success mean honoring your values and priorities by making time for those things. If your actions align with your values, then you are practicing self-care, and in doing so you’ll feel successful. So self-care can look like calling your friends and family, eating vegetables, taking naps, doing yoga, sending an email, reading a book, or gardening. These things may not sound like success, but if they align with your values, they are.

Finding Success Through Mindfulness

If you’re constantly thinking about what’s next, you’ll never feel satisfied in the moment. Success shouldn’t just be about checking off boxes. It’s about living up to the values you set for yourself through daily actions. Even if you set big goals for yourself (like graduating, getting a promotion, having children, etc.), the small steps you take to accomplish those are successes in themselves.

Practicing mindfulness can help you appreciate small successes and find peace in your current situation. Instead of focusing solely on the future, you’ll be able to honor and respect the things that make you happy in the present, and be OK with the challenges in your life. You’ll learn to accept that there is room to grow while still being ok with “what is.” 

You Can Feel Less Anxious and More Successful

We are all struggling to find peace during this pandemic. Psychotherapy can help you redefine what success means to you and take steps to align your life with your values.

If you are ready to feel less anxious and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished, call Dr. Heather Violante today at (954) 391-5305.

She has been helping people overcome anxiety for years and is ready to help you live a successful and fulfilling life. 


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