Coronavirus / COVID-19; two words that up until a few months ago weren’t even on our radar, and up until a few weeks ago weren’t causing sheer panic. But, here we are for the foreseeable future.
These are truly scary times the world over, and we’re all feeling it. There’s no escaping it, and now is the time to be safe, smart, calm and responsible. If you’re not in self isolation yet, there’s no escaping it at the grocery store where the shelves are empty… there’s no escaping it at the coffee shop where it’s everybody’s topic of conversation. And if you are already confined behind the walls of your house (bravo!), it’s still on your tv screens, radio and social media. There is literally no escaping it. It’s stressful on anyone, but, for those of us with anxiety (insert hand in the air emoji here), and in particular health anxiety (insert hand in the air emoji times two) it can be particularly stressful as this is the pinnacle of health anxiety fear.
I myself, have found it very challenging to not become completely overwhelmed with fear, panic and the enormity of the situation. It’s hard to not feel scared, for our world, for each other and for ourselves. There are so many unknowns; aka a breeding ground for anxiety to rule the roost. It’s also hard to know what a sensible level of fear to have is, if there is such a thing.
It’s ironic actually, because up until this week I was quite blazae about it and have been since December. I was surprised at how well I was doing and how much it wasn’t worrying me. I traveled, I went to public events, I was doing day to day life. I tried to limit my news intake so as not to buy into the panic and I really wasn’t taking any extra precautions or comprehending the severity of the situation. I was even supposed to be travelling internationally this coming week, and feeling quite relaxed about it. But… I guess it was bubbling under the surface with news reports, statistics and panic buying subconsciously imprinting in the anxious part of my brain.
And then, it all changed – watching what’s unfolding in Italy – and all around the world – it seems like the last few days have been nothing but sheer fear, panic and anxiety. And, I know it’s not just me. Even my most easy going friends and family have amped up cautiousness a notch.
Whilst everyone is fearful right now – and rightfully so – some people are able to take this cue of working from home, bunkering down and social distancing as a chance to binge watch Netflix, stay in trackies all day, and kinda just chill. But, for someone with anxiety it’s not so easy to switch off like that. It’s hard not to panic.. and to someone anxious / in a state of panic – saying “don’t panic” doesn’t help FYI.
It’s worrying to hear the news, it’s scary with all the unknowns, it’s anxiety inducing to have to limit interaction and stay indoors, it’s instant-panic going to the supermarket and seeing people with trolleys piled high – and also not knowing who is infectious and who isn’t, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmingly confused with helplessness: what can we do / how can we help / how bad is it going to get. It’s all a lot and I figured if I am struggling this much (cue: full meltdown yesterday) there must be others too. And so I wanted to put together a list of ways to deal with the COVID-19 / Coronavirus situation when you suffer from anxiety. I hope this helps you, I am using it as a daily checklist for myself to refer to when things feel all consuming and overwhelming. Please feel free to add anything you’re doing / have thought of to also alleviate some of the anxiety.
- Go easy on yourself; First and foremost, cut yourself some slack. You’re dealing with a lot right now, there is a lot of panic in the world and this is one of the most scariest unknowns to face. Apart from dealing with your own anxiety and fear, you’re picking up on the Universal energy. So give yourself a break and know that it is completely normal to feel like this and you’re not alone in these feelings.
- Limit news / internet / social media. Arm yourself with as much information and as many updates as you need and then limit intake.
- Supplement! Take Vitamin C, Zinc and any immune boosting supplements. My favourite immune supplement is “Wellness Formula” by Source Naturals.
- Extreme hygiene – look, I’m known for carrying my hand sanitizer with me At. All. Times. and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I can be a little overly cautious yes, but now – now is the time for all of us to be extremely cautious as that is one sure fire way you can protect yourself. Wash hands thoroughly and frequently, there are so many amazing infographics and videos showing you how to scrub to surgical standards. Carry hand sanitizer. And avoid touching your eyes / nose / mouth.
- Drink hot tea, look I don’t know if it’s fact or fiction and can’t remember where I read it but in one of my deep google dives of the last few days, I read that the virus can’t withstand hot internal body temperatures so drink hot tea, often – it can’t hurt right, I mean who doesn’t love a cuppa?!
- Eat healthy. Now’s the time to make sure you’re nourishing your body as much as possible, veggies, soups, smoothies… by eating well you are keeping your immune system strong. My favourite supplement to add to my smoothies is Lovewell; a plant based supplement formula by my clever girlfriends Teresa and Chrissy.
However, please note that stress ice-cream / chocolate / doughnut eating behaviour is completely acceptable too (just saying / trying to make myself feel better about this)
- Take extra time out for self care and mindfulness. Meditation and self care are two very very veryyyyyy important things to include in daily life when you have anxiety. Now is the time to add in even more of that. Start your day with a mediation, yoga or breath-work.
- Talk! Share your worries and concerns with an understanding loved one, someone who knows you have anxiety and is willing to listen, reassure and be the voice of reason when anxiety is overtaking. And feel free to laugh about it, I just had a LOL with a girlfriend (via the safety of FaceTime) about how OTT I am right now.
- Find gratitude, cultivate kindness. It’s easy once you start and it automatically shifts your mindset and energy
- Distance yourself from any unnecessary interaction with the public. Just don’t take any risks right now, it’s not worth it. Even if you’re not in the susceptible category, think about how you may be endangering the vulnerable in our communities. Please be smart and think about the greater good.
- Know that you’re safe. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but if you self isolate, social distance and keep your hygiene at an optimum, you are doing great and protecting yourself and others. And, there’s always help available when / if you should need it.
- The art of distraction. My bestie taught me this when it comes to kids, it’s all about distraction. And, because we all know that anxiety can be a big ol’ baby at times – now is the time to distract the heck out of it. Do whatever it is that distracts you for a minute or 3 hours. Look up new recipes, go down the Pinterest interiors rabbit hole or watch some YouTube vids and learn a new skill.
- Get lost in a tv show, there are so many binge-worthy series and all-time-classics to pass the time. And hey, if you have any Netflix recommendations share them below!
- Sleep!! This one is a big one, getting some good zzz’s is very very helpful.
- Read inspiring books / quotes / articles – there’s so much heavy information in the media right now that it’s important to counter-balance with some light and inspiring words.
- Positive affirmations. Repeat them constantly. I have created some below for you to save on your phone.
- Essential oils or candles are your friend!! For me, scents can be very helpful and immediately calming, so get the diffuser on or light that candle and have a bath – you can feel the relaxation already right?!
- Get excited about staying in; I mean, hello!! Coronavirus quarantine aside… usually getting cosy, working in your pj’s, drinking copious amounts of tea and binge-watching your new fav show is rancho relaxo. How nice does that sound!!
- You’re in control. Create a little routine, a lot of anxiety is feeling out of control, so create a routine and do whatever you can to feel in control in your day. Know that as much as there are things you aren’t in control of, there are still a lot of things you are. Focus on them.
- And, don’t forget to breathe. It’s amazing what three big, deep, belly breaths can do for you. Try it now, and set a reminder to do it often.
And please remember, we’re all in this together. If you’re suffering with overwhelming anxiety right now, please know that you’re not alone. I am too. And so are so many people around the world, even people that don’t usually suffer from anxiety.