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Fear vs. Anxiety

May 14, 2020

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This is a little different from our usual articles, but based on conversations with clinic owners and friends and family over the last few weeks, it’s important.

Here is a situation we find ourselves in: from nowhere, our lives have been turned upside down. Sure, our businesses have closed and – regardless of your opinion on the government response – we are at the mercy of our politicians from an economic standpoint. Also, our children have been yanked out of school and kindergarten, we have been forced to remain in our homes under threat of arrest and our cherished freedoms have been removed.

And we find ourselves in a country with an unthinkably low infection rate. We should be grateful of course but that takes away from the emotional strain we, and our families, are all experiencing. In time such as this, stress, anxiety and fear are all reasonable responses to a world that has been turned upside down.

So what now? As we move out of lockdown we need to find a way to regain our confidence. We can seek solace in previous generations who have experienced circumstances far beyond what we can even imagine; after all they found a way to thrive in the face of economic disaster, war and the dismantling of “normality.”

The struggle we confront will become much more personal as the weeks and months go on. Will we shrink into the corner, or will we, somehow, find the courage to thrive in what is likely to be a time plagued with uncertainty and worst-case scenarios.

People will be afraid, unsure and worried about what the future may hold – just like we are. Politicians tell us that there are tough times ahead and that the country is in a far worse place than it should be. There will be blaming and anger and sadness and stress. Unemployment will skyrocket, major businesses will cease to exist and, for many, the future will appear bleak.

Our job is to be an oasis in a desert of sadness. When people enter our salons and clinics, regardless of the treatment they are getting, it should be a brief escape from the real world. Our clients will be experiencing various emotions, but most of them boil down to two – fear and anxiety, and what will help them will most likely help us also.

Fear and anxiety are two entirely different emotions: fear is reasonable, and anxiety is not.

Fear is based on reality. If a bear is running after you and you are afraid for your life, you are experiencing fear. Anxiety is based on hypotheticals: if you are walking through a forest, scared that you may see a bear, you are experiencing anxiety.

Fear cannot be cured, because it is a survival instinct. If someone is running alongside you while you are trying to escape a bear, asking you to calm down, it won’t help.

We can give our clients a respite from anxiety by taking them out of their own head. Our holidays have been cancelled and they were most common way of reducing anxiety, so we should give our clients a local holiday.

The next few months, we can consider ourselves a vital resource in the fight against uncertainty and anxiety.

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