As the chaos over the Coronavirus pandemic takes over the headlines, social media, our inboxes, and the conversations we have with loved ones, anxiety can become overwhelming. It’s important to take a step back and learn how we can relieve anxiety over things we cannot control. The idea of “locus of control” has been around for centuries. A simple circle of control activity is a great way to put our stress in check.
It can be helpful for you, your students, and family members to take a moment to think about the difference between the things you can control vs. the things you cannot control. Often this helps ground us and pushes us to break the cycle of catastrophizing a situation.
Grab an editable version of this infographic to use the circle of control for kids or adults.
Let’s take a look at how this might work:
Let Go of Things You Can’t Control with The Circle of Control
When we worry, it’s truly very unproductive, and it causes us to make up extreme scenarios and outcomes that may never come to fruition.
So, you see, worrying is pointless because we cannot always control outcomes and it’s very possible that our worst fears will never come true…and we’ve wasted energy thinking about them (a lot of energy). And in turn, we create an environment full of anxiety.
For example, we can’t control the hoarding of toilet paper or what’s being said on the news, or even how long a pandemic will last.
But we can control our own actions.
Focus On What You Can Control with the Circle of Control
Instead of worrying about getting toilet paper, realize that there are other ways to take care of your hygiene and you have control over that.
Rather than ruminating over the newest fear-packed headlines, you can turn off the TV or disconnect from social media. In that moment, you have control over your decisions, and you might meditate instead. Or play a board game with your family.
How to Cope with Alarmists
It’s no doubt that we are living in a chaotic moment in time, but we can’t control how others will react to this new world we live in. We can, however, take control over our own attitudes. In a way, tuning out the alarmists, deliverers of bad news, and conspiracy theorists helps us continue to live a peaceful existence amongst the chaos.
Helping Children Relieve Anxiety During the Pandemic
Teach youngsters to remain rational and help them understand what they can and cannot control during times of uncertainty.
For example, show them that they have control over their actions by teaching them to follow the CDC guidelines.
Or teach children to unplug from social media and live in the moment by playing a board game or going for a walk outdoors.
Mindfulness techniques will work wonders when anxiety is building.
It’s easy for anyone to catastrophize by attempting to predict the future (and most often we all assume the worst) but for a child surrounded by negative news and social media, it can not only be anxiety-inducing, but it can affect the way they develop their innate responses to negativity.
Now is the time to teach children that there are some things they can control, and some things they cannot. Showing them how to focus on what they can control can help relieve anxiety before it becomes overwhelming.
If you’d like to practice more with the kids in your life, try these lessons:
Share your ideas for staying in control when things around you are out of control.