By: Emily Matthews
Anxiety: for some of us, the word alone makes our palms sweat. If you’re someone who suffers with anxiety, you know the sudden onset of fear or unease can be enough to make you want to draw the blinds and lock the doors, because the only way to stay safe is to stay put.
Even on a normal day, in a normal year (2020, am I right?), anxiety can make the strongest relationships in your life feel fragile, your every-day plans feel dangerous, and your mind feel like an enemy. Anxiety says, “That trip you’ve been looking forward to, the one you just saved up enough money for? What if there’s a plane crash?” Or, “The family walks you’ve been enjoying lately? What if your child steps into the road and gets hurt?”
President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” But for me, especially this year, “what if” has been the thief that stands outside my doors, waiting to break into my mind and take my joy.
This all sounds very dramatic, I know. And until this year, I might have told someone with the above thoughts to cheer up, think positively, or trust the universe. And my goodness, I am so sorry if I ever did.
So, what changed? Today, we face a global pandemic. In many moments of life, anxieties are unfounded. The majority of the time, the plane will land, you will enjoy your trip, and the walk you take with your family will only result in happy memories. But when over 200,000 people have died in the United States alone, we know COVID-19 is worth fearing. But if we’re not careful, that fear can spread to every area of our lives.
While the potential of danger is always there, how do we ease anxieties when it has become an ever-present part of life? How do we engage with the world around us while remaining calm and staying safe? The CDC, in an article with the heading, “Pandemics Can Be Stressful,” (AMEN TO THAT, CDC), offers a few healthy ways to cope with stress:
- Take care of your emotional health.
There are many ways to take care of emotional health, but limiting phone time, creating solid routines, and prioritizing laughter and fun have been helpful for our family.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be overwhelming and upsetting. It’s okay to take a break, and it’s okay to not know everything all the time.
- Take care of your body.
This is so important, but it can feel secondary while taking care of family, working, or experiencing anxiety. Prioritizing healthy eating, regular exercise and plenty of sleep can make a huge difference.
- Make time to unwind.
When you can, say no to activities that are not serving you at this time. Remember, saying no means saying yes to something better.
- Connect with others.
Everyone is going through something. Talk to you friends about how you’re feeling. Join a virtual support group. Find a counselor you connect with. Speaking your feelings can help you fully feel them, then let them go little by little.
If you’re struggling this year, you are not alone, mama. Take it from me.