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.
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.
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.