(Written in March)
Anxiety is often irrational, uncomfortable and difficult to manage and explain. With the current corona virus situation I can see life becoming more challenging and I’m more anxious than normal.
When the news first broke on the corona virus, my flutterings of anxiety began. I could feel my stomach flip and my brain start to wander. I calmed myself that my anxiety is triggered my health & physical illnesses and that as I have asthma I was bound to be a little more wary. I plodded on.
Over the weekend my daughter celebrated her 13th birthday and we went out, had friends here and socialised. My anxiety was building but I told myself I was being silly and irrational. I have so many new coping mechanisms now, strategies and things in place to help me. I spent 10 months in therapy last year improving how I handle my crisis times. I use the headspace app daily to refocus my mind, I have people who know about my condition and have activities to distract at home, but even with this I could feel myself dipping.
It was then when I realised that my chronic asthma puts me in the vulnerable group category that I realised some self isolation would be required. As someone who naturally heads towards self isolation when things get tough, my biggest concern is it becoming the norm for me again. I have spent the last 18 months coming away from that and to have it enforced is scary. Getting used to staying indoors so we have to be creative, pick up the phone, talk over the fence to your neighbours, whatever it takes.
What I’ve realised is, it’s ok to be anxious, to be worried and concerned. We’re in unprecedented times and no-one is really sure what is happening. Advice and Information is changing constantly and everyone has a different opinion. Try not to judge others and remain kind to each other.
If I were to offer and advice at all it would be to prioritise your mental health just as much as your physical health. Have somewhere that you read the clear advice and guideline, like the NHS website and try to avoid the other advice groups and media outlets which are often sharing opinion over facts. Social media can be a great place for support, problem solving and reassurance but it can also be unkind, judgemental and scare mongering so try to be sensible with what aspects you give your time to.
Make a plan with family and friends for if you or them do need to self isolate. Having this plan in place can ease some of your anxieties, especially if it’s written down for you to see. Although food and supplies are essential, ensure you have distractions in your house too, paper, books, board games, movies etc. Reach out & Tell someone how you are feeling. Allow yourself to be worried, it’s not wrong, it’s a difficult situation.
Stay active if you can with anything. It’s great to say go for a walk, do the housework, do an online work pot etc but it’s not always so easy. Especially if your mental health is failing. I’d highly recommend getting outside each day even if it’s to stand on your doorstep or back garden if you can. If not have a window open just to allow in some fresh air. Try to fetch drinks regularly, make meals when you can and generally move from place to place at home. I can be the worst for
Have a distraction/ or self care box made for you, the family or kids. It might have a board game or pack of cards, pamper stuff like face masks and nail varnish, a good book or puzzle magazine, chocolate or sweets or a kit for home baking
Look for solutions and problem solving. I try to write all my worries and problems down. Not to overwhelm me, but often once I have the list it’s easier to knock them off or find solutions one at a time.
Make time to sit and do nothing. I use the headspace app to meditate, but you can do anything. Enjoy a hot drink in the quiet, look out at the stars at night for 5 minutes. Just try your best to have time out.
Isolation, self preservation, self distancing, panic buying, mass illness, and death are going to cause huge problems but as a community, with a greater understanding of mental health we can make a difference and deal with this situation better than we could have before mental health was as out their in the public.