How I handled COVID anxiety

Oladayo Odumosu

2021-05-17 09:07:41

I know what a panic attack feels like. I’ve been there before. So the hours after the weeks of the declaration of the pandemic with endless scrolling and non-stop news updates, I found myself feeling…off. Despite all the news, I thought I was handling things well until I wasn’t sure of myself. Suddenly, I felt dissociated and disconnected from my physical surroundings, I was beginning to have a retrospective about my relationship with many people. A rush of anxious thoughts flooded my mind.
“How long will the travel industry suffer? What about my job? I’ve worked so hard to get here and now this? “My chest feels heavy. Is that the Corona? Will I wake up tomorrow with it, as it looks clearly unsure What if any of my family members get it? Then what if one of them dies?
“How many people will die? What will the world be like after this? What about the homeless, the elderly, the young, the dreams. Just many what ifs ran through my mind.
In a matter of seconds, my chest felt tight, and the world felt dark and blank. At that moment, I whipped out my journal book & scribbled my thoughts onto the page. I thought I was feeling okay, so where is this coming from? LOL well, I’d spent the entire day consuming constant (bad) news along with thousands of other people’s fears. At this point, I couldn’t even separate how I felt from how others were feeling. These days, I know what tools work when anxiety strikes, but it can feel hard to grasp onto them in the midst of a global pandemic.
I say all of this to say that, you may be feeling a lot right now too. If so, that’s completely normal. Your concerns are valid & real, but be mindful of allowing it to consume you for the sake of your mental & physical health. After all, stress has a major effect on our immune systems.
When this virus was at its peak, I found myself constantly consuming the news on social media, television, etc. I couldn’t look away. These days? I began to read more about many theories that were conjured by different people, hoping that there would be a faint bit of knowledge that would suggest what the future ahead looks like. I found none, rather my pulse was growing with the exponential increase in death rates across the world.
Although things were changing, I was catastrophizing & predicting a future that hadn’t even arrived. It’s really easy to feel like it’s the end of the world, especially when the media is constantly spewing negative news with piles of images.
Exercising my body always makes me feel better. It’s a practice that has vastly improved my mental health, even when I am out on the road. I never thought I’d be that person that enjoys working out, but here we are. I was playing more of my table tennis game, we were observing social distancing guidelines while still keeping fit and safe.
I learnt and gave myself to act of gratitude - for each day that I see and each day that I complete without becoming a victim of the virus. It was just a miracle. I know it can seem cliché or even ‘fake deep’ but gratitude is simply life-changing. I highlight 3 - 5 things that I am grateful for DAILY. I remind myself of all of the blessings that are present, this immediately lessens those feelings of anxiety about the future.
As someone who is usually on the go, I suddenly have more time than ever before. This was probably the case for everyone, but if you find yourself with more time on your hands then it may be a good time to know more about what is happening around the world. I was reading, taking an online class, learning a new skill, planning a future trip, etc. These were not about any immediate productivity, but simply having something to work on and occupy my mind on a daily basis. I was reading books that have sat on my ‘to-read’ list for years. This helped to keep my mind busy, which ultimately prevented overthinking and sustained me through this scary phase of life. Such a short time that seemed forever.

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