Brexit Anxiety is anxiety about the UK’s decision to leave Europe. Brexit Anxiety has hit a lot of people very hard. For many the decision to leave the EU has caused genuine symptoms of anxiety that some are calling “BrAnxiety”.
By Rebecca Sanderson – Director of The Mindset Clinic
27th June 2016
What is Brexit Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry about the unknown or future, particularly with regard to a future full of uncertainty.
For those who were angered, saddened or shocked by the decision to leave the EU the feeling of fear and uncertainty is a genuine concern that they feel physiologically. Some people are posting on social media that they feel physically sick by the decision. Some feel anger and frustration and some feel sadness and worry that the country is divided and some people feel fear as tensions seem to be rising. In their mind the safety and security of the country, investments and individuals has been thrown up into the air and for some this is causing very real anxiety symptoms. But with anxiety comes negativity and a pattern of thinking called ‘All or Nothing Thinking’. Negative thinking is a pattern of anxiety. It is a thought process that focusses on the worst that can happen. Negative thinking can very easily lead to depression if the spiral of negativity keeps looping. See ‘How To Stop Negative Thinking’ for ways on how to combat this destructive thought process.
Those feeling anxious have had their fight or flight responses activated and this is playing out very clearly on social media. Angry torrents of abuse by those who are in Fight response and silence from those who are in Flight or Freeze response. But the biggest threat to us in times of uncertainty or stress is actually ourselves. For it is how we respond to our environment and the perceived threat that causes us to trigger a rush of adrenaline and cortisol which increases our heart rate and blood pressure. When in a state of anxiety our pupils dilate and we become very narrowed in our focus so that we can fixate on the threat in case it threatens us again. We become hyper sensitive to danger and feel like we are living on the edge. In this state we also try to validate and rationalise the threat as real and we do this by looking for evidence to support the way we are feeling. This is why social media has seen a massive increase in people voicing their view, lambasting others that don’t support their view and anger at anyone who has put them into this position of uncertainty.
7 WAYS TO STOP BREXIT ANXIETY
Recognise What’s Triggering Your Feelings
The feelings that you are experiencing are being triggered by uncertainty. Whilst uncertainty can cause us to feel fearful reassure yourself that the world isn’t going to end. This isn’t the apocalypse and there have been lots of periods in history where there have been periods of great change and the very nature of change is transitory.
Think about the areas of your life where you do have control and start to focus your attention on these.
Accepting that you are the one who controls how you feel will enable you to start taking action. If there are areas of your life that you are concerned about in relation to Brexit, such as your finances then start to take control by seeking advice from a financial advisor. This will make you feel like you are doing something to bring control back.
Being grateful has shown to be the thing that happiest people do very well. Make a list of all the reasons why you are grateful to live in a democracy. Focus on the positives for example. Start every sentence with “I am grateful” for example “I am grateful to live in a democracy because it means people are free to express themselves” Try and come up with as many reasons to feel grateful as you can. It might be hard at first but keep at it. Then when you have your list read it out loud. Every time you feel yourself slipping back into the spiral of negative thinking go back to your list and read again.
Be Kind And Generous To Others
Just as negativity breeds negativity so positivity breeds positivity. Being kind to others makes you and them feel great and triggers the feel good hormones in your brain. Be generous with your thoughts towards others and instead of looking for reasons to hate them look for reasons to like them. What is good about them? What do they do well? What do you admire about them? You can take it a step further by being kind with your actions too. Simple random acts of kindness can really help people to feel valued and the sense of joy you will get will also release those happy hormones in your brain so you will benefit from the feel good feeling too.
Smiling at others shows that you are not a threat to them. As the vote to leave the EU was roughly 50/50 there are going to be people that you come into contact with who will have voted the same as you and an equal number who voted differently. By smiling at others you are passing on your positivity and the sense of unity. Many people are feeling uncertain, some people have reported hate crimes and racist attacks having increased since the decision to leave the EU was announced so demonstrate that you are not a threat and that you welcome everyone not just those that share your political views.
Avoid Social Media And The News
If you are getting incensed every time you check Twitter of Facebook then avoid it. Everyone is entitled to their view no matter how far from your own it maybe. If reading posts triggers anger, frustration or fear then don’t do it. Avoiding the news and media is another way to distance yourself from the speculation and opinion. The country will return to a status quo and the country can unite but only if you start to play your part.
If you are finding that you are still feeling anxious please get help. Anxiety can erode so many areas of your life and impact your health if not addressed but can easily and effectively be treated with professional help.
The majority of the country has decided that taking responsibility for itself is a good thing. Apply this principle to how you conduct yourself. As individuals we have a responsibility to ourselves to be personally accountable for our thoughts and actions. Give as much love, compassion and understanding as you can to others and to yourself. We can unite on a global scale and it’s far easier to do when you feel good about yourself.
Rebecca Sanderson is the Director of The Mindset Clinic and teaches people how to create a more positive mind-set to enable them to live happier more fulfilling lives. She is a specialist in Anxiety and Anxiety related disorders and Depression. www.themindsetclinic.co.uk