Living With Anxiety in the Midst of a Pandemic

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Most people would think a stay-at-home order would be an easy thing for me. After all, I’m an introvert and I really do live to stay at home. However, what most people don’t know is that I was recently diagnosed with situational anxiety, and “the unknown” along with “uncontrollable new situations” are a few of my triggers. Therefore, just like that, what you think would be so easy for me, turned into a nightmare of panic and worry. Living with anxiety during a pandemic isn’t easy.

Recognizing Anxiety

At first, I let my anxiety take control. I worried about possibly catching COVID-19 and thought of how bad it could be for me since I have asthma. Then I became worried about my family especially my six-year-old daughter. I watched and read countless news reports and soon the worry turned into fear. I was cleaning and disinfecting my home all the time. A sneeze or a cough from clearing my throat made me worry. Soon I began to have small bouts of insomnia. I would catch myself clenching my jaw and on bad days my leg or arm would feel numb.

Fortunately, I quickly recognized what was happening was anxiety. Knowing what I was feeling and why I was feeling this way, was key for me. This helped me as I set on a quest to not let living with anxiety control or consume me.

Finding Strength

The first thing I had to accept, was that some things are truly out of our control and that is OK. I had to get back in control of my thoughts and provide myself with positive affirmations. Understanding that it is OK to have a little anxiety during this time. Most people are feeling a little anxious, but being controlled by fear wasn’t OK for me. I had to learn to step away from the news, updates, press conferences, and even social media. I put limits on how much I looked at coverage of the pandemic.

Once I began to think positively, I naturally began to look at things differently. This time became my free time with my family that I probably wouldn’t even get on a vacation. It was time for me to focus on things I never had the time to. I caught up with my cross-country family, spoke to friends that I have spoken to in a while. I had quality time with my husband and daughter and just like that, having to stay at home felt more like fun.

Sure, I still have anxious moments now and then. Once I realize it’s anxiety, I quickly begin to do something to relieve it. I exercise, I look around the room I’m in and notice all the colors, the shapes and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Sometimes it’s helpful to go outside in my backyard and let the sun hit my face or feel a chilly breeze. I do what I can to live with anxiety and not be controlled by anxiety during the times we are in.

 

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Melanie Prince
Melanie was born in the Philippines and, as a military brat, raised all over the world. Her husband is a DC native, so they moved with their daughter (who is now 6 years old), from DC from Chicago about 5 1/2 years ago. Melanie attended Old Dominion University with hopes of having a career in federal law enforcement but her passion for helping others landed her with a career in the nonprofit world. In her free time Melanie enjoys traveling, shopping, exploring museums and attending NBA and MLB games. Fun fact about Melanie is she is fluent in Spanish.

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