3 Questions to Help Assess Your Pandemic Anxiety
It’s been a challenging year with many changes, losses, and uncertainty. There has been a lot of buzz about “we are all in this together,” but we are also being impacted in our own way. Individual circumstances and differing opinions can create feelings of loneliness, anger, confusion, and hopelessness in even some of the most optimistic and mentally strong people.
We have all had periods in our life where everything seems to be turned upside down. I think what has made this situation different is the length of time it has impacted us as a whole. Additionally, we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, so we are still burdened with a lot of unknown. People cope with uncertainty in different ways, but clearly a lot of stress hangs in the air.
It’s important that we give ourselves permission to start by validating our personal struggles at this time. It can be easy to minimize what you feel with thoughts like, “I don’t deserve to be stressed out when I have a job, but my neighbor has lost theirs.”
While that is good perspective to remain grateful and hopeful, you still deserve to feel anything that you experience, as well. Your neighbor’s struggle might be more intense than yours, but you still can feel worried about your own situation.
Once you validate and acknowledge how you are feeling and exactly what feels difficult, practicing healthy coping skills is key. Below are three questions to help you do a personal assessment during time of change and seek a sense of control to ease your anxiety.
I highly recommend writing down your responses. Getting your thoughts out of your head and on paper is powerful. It helps you look at your thoughts more objectively and gives you something to go back to as a reminder when you get off track.
What is constant and known in my life at this moment?
Anxiety grows when we feel a loss of control. We start to hyper-focus on all the unknowns and things that are out of our control until we completely lose sight of what is in our control. Grounding yourself in the here and now can help.
While there might be a lot of changes going on around you, notice what is still the same. Maybe you still have a loving family, the ability to exercise, a roof over your head, a favorite hobby that you enjoy.
If you are fearful of losing your job, becoming sick, or having kids going back to school, consider what you know. You have choices to save money, wear a mask, social distance, research online schooling options. When you start to write down what you know, what choices you have and what is still steady, you might be surprised at how much is actually unchanged.
How can you give this time purpose?
Time and time again, I have seen good things come out of hard times. I’ve already heard a lot of people saying they are enjoying aspects of this socially distanced lifestyle including more time with kids, working from home, getting house projects completed, noticing healthier boundaries with people outside the home, etc.
Consider how you can be intentional with this time. Life is moving at a slower pace and expectations have changed. Find a way to use that to your advantage by focusing on things you were unable to focus on prior to being quarantined.
Designing a daily routine to follow can help you create a healthy balance in life by using time wisely. Make time for all the areas of your life that need time and energy for you to feel well, including relationships, work, financial health, physical health, leisure time, spirituality, etc.
Define your support system?
While we might be affected by the pandemic differently than our neighbor, friends, or family members, the common thread is our lives have changed and we are all facing new struggles. You don’t have to face them alone.
Look to your community, government, friends, colleagues, and family for support. Asking for help might not be normal for you and it may feel awkward, but do it anyway. The ability to ask for help is a strength not a weakness.
Professional counseling services are available during this time, as well — either face-to-face or virtually. Having an unbiased professional as a part of your support system can be beneficial in helping you untangle the ball of stress you might be experiencing. They are trained to guide you, teach you new skills, and hold you accountable to taking care of yourself.
As we continue to battle this pandemic, maintaining our health should be a top priority. I encourage everyone to remember that your mental health is intimately connected to your physical health. It is crucial that you continue to nurture your wellbeing and maintain healthy levels of stress. It is normal and understandable that you may be experiencing heightened levels of stress at this time, but please continue to practice good self-care and surround yourself with a personal and professional support system.
Kristin Woodling, a licensed mental health counselor and certified marriage and family therapist, owns Pamper Your Mind, LLC in Satellite Beach. She is devoted to providing a confidential and elite therapeutic experience to professional women seeking healing, clarity, and balanced lifestyle for optimal health.