I think we can all agree that this is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Having anxiety during COVID-19 is normal, because it’s forcing us not only to change our entire lifestyle, but to change it quickly while under a lot of pressure. To be honest, I was going back and forth in my head, trying to decide if I should even write anything about this. Then yesterday, as I sat down to eat dinner with my family, the anxiety all hit me at once. I felt sick to my stomach and immediately lost my appetite.
I’ve been doing pretty well with all of the changes that have happened over the last month or so. When my school switched to online classes, I was happy for a chance at escaping my long days at school, where I would sit for hours between classes with nothing to do. I was happy that I wouldn’t have to sit in traffic for an hour every morning hoping to make it to my 8AM on time. I finally had a chance to get more hours in at work. I was ready to shift into strictly online school. Until my job closed, and the reality of the quarantine hit hard.
No matter where you are in the world, you shouldn’t feel bad about having anxiety during COVID-19. After all, we are living a global pandemic. There are people who have it better than you and there are people who have it worse. It’s okay to be upset that your last semester of college got cut short, or your senior prom was cancelled. It’s normal to worry about our friends and family that we can’t see during this time, or our jobs that we don’t know when we will return to. Most of us, if not all, are going a little crazy right now. The anxiety is normal and valid. You just have to accept your feelings and figure out how to adapt to your new ~temporary~ lifestyle.
Keep up a routine.
I personally need to keep a routine or else my anxiety kicks in. This is normal for many types of mental illness. Figure out everything that you need to do for the day, write it down and organize it into some kind of schedule. If you’re working from home and taking classes like me, maybe try completing you work during the day and doing your school work in the evening. If you’re just taking classes, have specific times each day when you can log on and complete the work. Even if you’re not in school, and you’re currently out of a job, there’s still plenty of options to fill your day. To learn more about creating a routine, check out my post How to Create a Personal Daily Wellness Routine.
Find new hobbies.
Sitting around doing nothing everyday is a recipe for bad mental health days. There’s no need to stay super busy, but having a couple things to do each day will give your life more purpose during this time. Now’s your time to do that thing that you’ve always wanted to do! Learn a new instrument, practice your art skills, read a new series of books, start a YouTube channel. Journaling is another great way to pass time and it can do wonders for your mental health. You can use my 40 Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery as a guide.
With gyms being closed, a lot of people are forced to adapt to a new workout routine. There’s a lot of great options for staying active while being at home that will help relieve your anxiety during COVID-19. On nice days, go outside and run (while keeping your distance from others!) or do yoga in your back yard. You can find all kinds of workouts on YouTube, or new ideas for staying active on Pinterest.
Be kind to yourself.
It’s normal to feel anxious during this time. Being able to accept these feelings and develop new strategies will make it a lot easier to make it through this. Be sure that you’re keeping up with any of your regular self-care routines. Don’t overwork yourself. Your body isn’t used to this yet, and the fact that we don’t have much control over anything right now can lead to fatigue. Let yourself take that nap. Make sure that you’re eating well and getting all of your nutrients. If you are in need of food, look for food banks in your area here.
Take a break from the media.
Constantly checking social media for updates on COVID-19 can take a toll on your mental health. Especially when media sources tend to report more negative updates than positive ones. Log off of your social media accounts and do something else to take your mind off everything – trust me, it will feel good. When you do go online, make sure the sources you’re reading are reliable. Too often, I go on Facebook and see people sharing articles full of false information. Don’t believe everything you read!
Focus on the things you can control.
Like I said earlier, we don’t have much control over anything right now. Continue to wash your hands, stay home and avoid large crowds. If everyone does their part in social distancing, we will get through this much faster. Keep on following the CDC’s guidelines for protecting yourself and others. Be kind to everyone and help those in need. Focus on the good as much as possible, and remember that this isn’t the end of the world. By making this effort to stay in the right mindset, we can significantly lower our anxiety during COVID-19 together.