Anxiety is a natural response to stress. Stress spikes, and you become anxious as fear or apprehension sets in. An estimated 40 million people suffer with an anxiety disorder called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder. The government shutdown has caused a spike in the level of panic and fear from people who typically haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Who is Impacted by the Shutdown?
Past studies into the impact of government shutdowns on the mental wellbeing of our nation have shown that Americans struggle deeply with anxiety and fear when the government is not operating at full capacity. It’s not just government workers that stress; it’s those who collect food stamps or visit food banks for assistance; it’s the individuals that rely on government backed healthcare such as Medicare or Medicaid; and renters that receive government assisted housing. The fear even trickles down to the business owners that may see fewer people spending money as a result of the furlough and changes in the fiscal balance of our nation.
Coping with Anxiety
Many of the same solutions to anxiety that are offered to those who struggle with general anxiety or social anxiety, are offered to those affected by the government shutdown. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals offer the following suggestions to help you cope with anxiety:
- Talk things out. Speak with others about your fears. Often, you will get answers that reduce the “fear of the unknown.” Likewise, feeling like “we’re all in the same boat,” can help to reduce the general anxiety that comes from not knowing what will happen next.
- Meditate, yoga, or use other relaxation techniques to help you reduce stress.
- Exercise to release tension and boost your mood. Riding a bike, taking a walk, or otherwise participating in some form of exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression that may be interrupting your happiness.
- Ask for help from friends and family. There are Samaritans out there willing to donate and lend a helping hand if we just ask.
- Stay positive! If you feel like everything is horrible and the situation is terrible and there is no hope—if you simply cannot get past the negative thoughts, seek professional help to ease your mind.