Anxiety is one of those things that is tough to deal with in ordinary times. But when you are in the middle of a Pandemic, there are times when it feels like it’s out of control.
I was formally diagnosed with general anxiety disorder in the 80’s when I was around 30. I had been suffering from depression since was 19, but now realize I had both much earlier than that.
I was 9 when I had panic attacks and night terrors when I went to sleep. I never heard the word “anxiety” at that time, but now all of those are part of my diagnosis and treatment. I’ve been on and off medications for years and now I’m on one that I found finally works. It controls the panic attacks and the night terrors which makes sleeping much easier.
But I wonder about people who haven’t been diagnosed yet, and suddenly find themselves concerned, anxious and panic stricken. A lot of people never stop to think to see a doctor about this and some have considered it but feel guilty taking up the time of a doctor when they are so busy with Covid-19. I can totally relate to that feeling.
If you find yourself immobilized by fear, I’m pretty sure a doctor would want to see you. There are things that can help and with the situation we are right now, there is not only a reason to be anxious, but it’s not something you may be able to control on your own.
In the meantime, there are things you can try to see if they will help you. Since we all are different, different things help different people at different times. A lot of the time it’s a matter of trial and error to see what will work.
These are the things I’ve found work for me.
- First, I remind myself that it’s unlikely I will die from a panic attack, although it feels like it that time.
- Learning to slow down your breathing and heart rate often works to derail a panic attack. Basically meditation.
- Getting up and walking around helps… exercise, movement, a change of environment. You can walk around your room, around the house, around your yard, around your block.
- Hydrotherapy can be helpful… a nice warm bath or a hot shower. I visualize the anxiety being washed off of me and going down the drain.
- Writing down your feelings in a journal. You can say anything because no one other than you will see it. Sometimes seeing the stresses in print help to make sense of those feelings.
- Counseling is very helpful. In these days of sheltering in place, many therapists are doing phone sessions or video chats on Skype or Zoom.
- Sometimes joining an online support group can help, it lets you know you are not the only one feeling this way.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Being overly tired will just make the anxiety worse.
- Put things into perspective. Try to find a balance between learning the facts of Covid-19 and not becoming obsessed with the negativity of it. I’m convinced that knowledge is power. I try to balance the facts of the illness with the positive silver lining stories that are coming out from the event. And there are many. It also helps to stop and think about the things you hear. Do they make sense? What is the worst that could happen? What is the likelihood of that happening? What would or could you do if it did? Planning ahead helps. But don’t panic. Don’t hoard. Don’t become a hermit.
We are all in this together.