On one hand, those of us with severe anxiety have been mentally preparing for coronavirus our entire lives. On the other, we never could have predicted something like this. It’s a tough time for people who struggle with anxiety disorders like generalized, social, obsessive-compulsive, and panic. We rely on things like going to the gym or out to a restaurant with a friend as ways to cope. Social distancing and voluntarily rendering yourself totally isolated are definitely no-nos when trying to combat constant worrying and negative thoughts. Routine is key and we’ve been thrown a real curve-ball.
As for myself, I’ve been out taking walks and running, getting coffee to-go, and taking brief trips to the grocery store for essentials. These are ways to help, but I still woke up this morning with a complete sense of dread that this is never going to end. My body is showing the classic signs of anxiety – dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. The fact that there is no exact end date to all of this is really messing with my head. I just want it to be over, but that’s not an option right now.
But we anxiety-prone people are troopers. That’s why a lot of us didn’t panic at the very beginning of the coronavirus concerns. When others were hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, we felt a bit more mentally prepared. Now, however, our day-to-day life is changing and that’s a problem. Through years of therapy for generalized anxiety, I’ve learned that ruminating on the issue is bad and action is key.
So, what else can we do to ease some of the anxiety?
Create an At-Home/Social Distanced Routine
This really goes for anyone right now, but people who deal with daily anxiety definitely need the structure. I’ve begun each day simply by making my usual cup of coffee. There is a new normal now, but keeping as close as you can to your old normal can be helpful as well.
Also, in between writing, taking walks or runs outside have begun to replace my evening workouts at CorePower or CycleBar (although I’m still checking out some of the virtual classes they’re doing online). Just be aware of keeping about six feet away from others. I’ve been walking on Dallas’ Katy Trail since it’s closest to where I live, but it’s starting to get way too crowded out there. The Trail even suggested to try out some other trails in Dallas if Katy is looking too tight.
I’m with y’all on needing to incorporate a few other set activities each day so we’ll explore this together.
Meditate or Try Aromatherapy
I am the worst when it comes to meditation or taking the effort to incorporate any kind of essential oils in my life, but now seems like the perfect time to start. A proud Taurus, I am stubborn and have been told a million times to try meditating. I have tried apps like Calm (which is actually pretty good and has a free trial for new users), or just simply sitting quietly with my thoughts for a few minutes. The apps are better.
I’ve never actually tried aromatherapy, but why not now? Local shops like Magic Hour are offering free shipping and discounts for online shoppers since their brick-and-mortar is currently closed. The shop has all sorts of cool stuff, from oils and incense. Buy a sage stick for cleansing and purifying of yourself and your newfound space you’ll be bunkered down in for who knows how long.
Socialize from Afar with Friends and Family
The other day, I came up with some ideas to keep in touch with friends and family during this time. I did something I never, ever do: I FaceTimed my dad, brother, and uncle yesterday. It was bizarre, but felt necessary and actually ended up making me feel better. I also researched some ways we can still have happy hours, movie nights, and game nights with friends over the Internet.
We can’t forget that although we’re trying our best to physically self-isolate, we don’t have to totally be alone.
Eat Healthy and Feel Good Supporting Local
Accomplishing tasks and investing our time in things we’re really passionate about is good for people with anxiety. Eating healthy is also important in feeling physically good. So, find some of your favorite local restaurants who are offering healthy meals for delivery or curbside pickup and order from them.
Take Up New Hobbies
Trying new things always helps take my mind off of things. (Except for knitting, I am way too OCD for knitting.) If you like gardening, or haven’t tried it before, now is a good time. Gardenuity has teamed up with Alto to deliver gardening kits to DFW homes. Other helpful hobbies I’ve seen are doing puzzles, decorating cookies (available for pick up or delivery from local bakeries), or checking out some new books. Journaling is also a good task to take up on a daily basis.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Inhale for five seconds while imagining your lungs filling with air, then exhale for five seconds. Do this three to five times while thinking of things you’re grateful for.
Look at This Incredible Rainbow
On Thursday night, a Dallas rainstorm resulted in this amazing rainbow. Sometimes there’s beauty in unpredictability.