No, I'm not anxious!
Denying my anxiety is a big issue…
When Covid – 19 first started dominating the news, although finding what was happening scary and knowing that it would change many of our lives and routines, I felt like I was handling it relatively calmly. Anxiety, characterised as a feeling of unease, worry or fear, has been in my life for as long as I remember and I am used to feeling that I’m in a stressful situation. The problem is my go – to has probably been denial and acting as though nothing is wrong is as instinctive as breathing to me.
Of course, this is a difficult period when we are going to reflect on those affected by Covid, on the sad deaths and, of course, love and cherish the families and friends of those losing their lives, whilst also praising the bravery of our wonderful key workers. I have found that not overloading myself with 24 hour news channels has helped my anxiety – being aware of important information without swimming in it repetitively.
For those dealing with mental health issues prior to coronavirus, there may be a number of responses. Being kind to yourself is key and not judging your own reaction against anyone else’s can also be important. Anxiety levels that have increased, decreased and stayed the same are all perfectly natural, as are levels moving and changing throughout these unprecedented times.
We can feel pressure at the moment – to bake bread, give our children different craft activities daily, to take part in nightly zoom quizzes and post it all on social media to show how fabulous we are! Sometimes slowing it down and taking it easier is great too, as is having some self – care ideas in the toolbox – having a bath, doing your nails, enjoying your favourite food, video calling a friend…
One of my issues is that often I am not aware that I am anxious, or play my anxiety down in my head. I can be consciously aware of my anxious feelings whilst muddling along with my day, but sometimes (when anxiety isn’t as glaringly obvious as being hit by a truck!) my body and brain can be deceptive. So, when I have uncomfortable feelings, I sometimes sit with them and think ‘why is this? What was I doing / thinking about / talking about prior to my unease?’
Being anxious during this time is natural and being gentle with yourself and using loving self – talk is worth a try. Those with anxiety can sometimes have a tendency to judge themselves, being harsh in a way that you wouldn’t toward other people. So rather than telling yourself ‘I am not handling this and everyone else seems to be doing ok’, how about ‘I am managing this in the best way I can.. and I am (you are) awesome and strong!’
I have previously been at the dentist and had her say ‘you look concerned’ to me. (I had believed, up until that point, that I didn’t have much anxiety, panic, dread, at all!)
Deep breathing and, for me, taking a moment to consider and name my emotions - I feel sad, angry, scared - can help when you feel the dread creeping up.
There is some understandable anxiety at the moment, but I’m trying to shake the excess off!
My thoughts are with those affected by coronavirus, their family and friends.
(Since I wrote this educating myself further on racism and on white privilege has become a priority)