Anxiety During a Pandemic

We’re 6 months into this pandemic and it has taken a serious toll on our mental health. Personally, my mental health has been on a roller coaster that wasn’t approved by Six Flags or Coney Island to be built. So what’s to come? 

The answer: no one knows.

For anyone with anxiety, this is a phrase that is a part of the unknown is our worst fear. At the beginning of this all we’ve tried the same tactics to try to stay in a better or “healthier” mental state of mind. Living in New York I witness a hell of a shock to the city. One day I’m commuting into Manhattan like I would any other day and the following Monday everything changed. Sports seasons were being suspended, China and Italy were on lockdown and before I knew it my city was on lockdown. 

The fear set in. Was I exposed? Did I have it already a few months ago when this was apparently around? How long is this going to last? So many questions and a ton of uncertain answers. Daily the rules, regulations, way of life was changing and it was becoming scarier. The stores looked like a scene out of The Walking Dead – barren shelves, people panicking and people wearing masks. The cleaning supply aisle was nothing but shelves, people were buying toilet paper as if it was going out of stock, suddenly you could only purchase 1-2 items of meat or cleaning products at a time. It was chaos. 

The numbers were going up as much of our blood pressure was from the stress of it all. At first, it just seemed like a temporary thing and that we were going to get through this as a city and even as a country. I mean New York is a hub city for international business, it made sense to me as to why everything was happening. Before I knew it, my anxiety had me swan diving into an ocean of fear, panic, and rabbit holes of internet theories about coronavirus. It was the worst. 

It was a very different battle at home. The worry that either of my parents could get sick. The acceptance that I could see my brother but from a distance. The reality that I wouldn’t be able to see or hug any of my family members for a long period of time. So what was I going to do to keep myself from falling down that said rabbit hole? 

Developing a routine.

I developed a better at-home work schedule and routine within the first month. This meant getting up at the same time, making my bed, getting dressed in my favorite loungewear, meal prepping for the week, and working out by 5:15 PM on the dot. And since I’m very family-oriented, my cousins started a weekly zoom game night so we didn’t miss a beat seeing each other. This became a weekly event that I was able to look forward to. Having a steady routine has always been a sense of comfort for me when chaos is happening around me. 

Limiting my intake of the news.

I become a chronic headline reader because the details were too much to handle. I’d wait to see what the state officials had to say about the numbers increasing, decreasing or whatever new protocols were. Wearing masks at the stores became a sense of normalcy. I only paid attention to the new rules and regulations implemented by the city and state. 

Being creative.

My blog has always been my outlet and escape from my own mind. Creating and writing content is my time to focus on something positive. Around May I had reached out to my photographer for a social distancing shoot, it felt amazing to get back into the groove of things. Putting looks together, writing new content, it was exciting and gave me a sense of normalcy. Between March and August I have tried so many different things – tie-dye, sketching, cooking, baking, dressing up in a pillow dress to my zoom game nights. I have done it all. 

Focusing on what I can control.

This was probably the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome in the past 6 months. Everything happening was out of my control and all I can do is focus on the things that I can control. One being bettering myself, I’ve taken significant steps in reaching out for help when I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. Since then things have worked out positively for me. Wearing a mask out in public, in stores, eating outdoors, buying cleaning supplies over new outfits – it is all the new normal. No one has a solid answer of when things will ever go back to a “normal” senes of living. 

2020 has been one-upping itself every single month. Constantly testing all of our mental health, and of course our physical health. These small tactics are things I have learned that works best for me. Maybe they would work for you. Maybe you are going to think this was a waste of a read and a waste of time. 

Anxiety always makes you focus on the negative things that are happening or not really happening but only in your head. These thoughts can easily consume your mind and your day, instead of ignoring them, I’ve always acknowledged them. And I’ve waved to them as they pass down my mind conveyor belt and into a bucket. Because they are simply thoughts and not reality. Routine, intake of the news, expressing myself creatively are all things I can control. 

And remember this: focus on what you can control. 

Xx Sarah

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