If you asked me when my first experience with anxiety was, I couldn’t tell you. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dealt with anxiety, which became progressive and severed as I started transitioning into “adulting”. I would get anxious about anything and everything:
- anxiety attacks when I would forget to take that chicken out of the freezer that my mom told me about 2hrs ago (because what parent would love a child that doesn’t listen?)
- anxiety from experiencing any pain (because what if it’s not just a headache but some undiagnosed blood clot in my brain, this is undoubtedly going to be the death of me)
- anxiety about taking exams (I once walked out of a biology exam due to a panic attack, only then I wasn’t aware that I had anxiety and was experiencing a panic attack)
- anxiety attacks if I misplaced and can’t find something (because however can you be successful in life if you’re this careless?) P. S Call me if you’ve never seen a person in frantic tears unable to breathe because they can’t find their water bottle!
So as you can tell, it doesn’t take a deadly virus that causes the world to flip upside-down to get me paranoid and overthink myself to “Worst-case-scenario”…It’s a gift I possess! I call it a gift, because the years I’ve spent dealing with anxiety, in fact, had me better prepared for such a time as this.
So what helped me, you ask?!
For starters, not feeling alone. With all my years of anxiety, I’ve only ever had two panic attacks (we’ll get in another post on the differences between anxiety disorder and panic disorder). Looking back, to these extreme episodes occurred because of feeling alone in the situation. It often frightens me when I look around me and seeing that everyone seem to have it all figured out, that it sometimes sends strong signals to my brain that there’s definitely something wrong with me, and I better figure it out before I die. Therefore, being surrounded by a community that was experiencing and feeling exactly how I felt, comforted me and provided a safe space for me to talk and not feel judged. I will encourage you to find a community to talk to and share your thoughts and fears. However, I caution you to be aware not to get into a toxic one that dwells too much on negativity. You need support, not more ammunition to drive your fears.
In my previous post on the lockdown survival guide (https://justsomagda.com/2020/03/24/covid19-lockdown-survival-guide/), I mentioned about spending time away from social media. However, I did not get into much details on what to do during that time. So here are a few things:
By now I’m sure you have read a lot about the benefits that meditating provides. But, I will acknowledge that it’s not an easy technique to master overnight. After years on and off meditating, I would be lying if I told you that my mind gets entirely clear with my soul becoming one with the universe. There are various easy ways to get started.
You can begin with a 5minute guided practice using various apps, Headspace or Calm are my go-to meditation apps. Or follow videos on YouTube (Pick Up Limes and Yoga with Adriene have easy to follow meditation videos to try out).
Although there were days that were difficult to just sit and observe my thoughts, it still produced a gratifying feeling. The soul loves to feel as though it’s being taken care off.
I loved to follow up my meditation sessions with journaling. I would unpack my thoughts here, especially those that may have seemed too distracting to sit and observe during meditation. “Why was I so fixated on thinking about cleaning the microwave during my meditation today? Do I think I’m not clean enough?” And boy, the revelations I get sometimes would have me shook!! Deep down, I’m really hilarious and interesting. I hope someday you will get to know me, you will be left utterly entertained:)!
The task of unloading and unpacking the chaotic traffic in my mind on a piece of paper relieved me a lot of my anxiety.
Bible Reading and Praying
Growing up in a Christian household, finding solace in Jesus as a friend is not a new concept for me. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were never those to shove Jesus down our throats, but I’m so glad I listened when they spoke. This was the time more than ever to believe in something higher than human abilities. I didn’t have the answers and clearly, no other government, doctor, or scientist either. Spending time in prayer and The Word was a constant reminder of the power of God. This helped me feel protected, loved and comforted my fears.
Whatever it may be, believe in something greater than yourself to bring you peace.
I’ve always been big on the habit of gratitude practising. Even on days that I would skip meditating, I would never go a day without journaling my “Top-5 Things I’m Grateful for Today”. So imagine my surprise when I noticed that by week 2 of lockdown, I couldn’t find anything more than “I’m grateful to be alive and healthy”. And, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t even sure if I really was, or it just felt like the “right” thing to say.
So instead, I substituted the every morning gratitude journaling to a practice of what a call “In-the-Moment Gratitude” journaling. What this was, should I find myself during any time of the day sad/upset/frustrated or whatever kind of negative emotion, I would note it down. I follow this up with a reason why I felt that way and then would summon “rational me” to try and find an opposed perspective. “This is the best that can be done given the circumstances/its just money that will always come and go/people have different views, they can’t rationalize like you do/take a break from this and see if you will yield different results tomorrow” etc. I would then close this off with something to be grateful for in that moment.
So instead of trying to find things I’m grateful for in one sitting, depending on the day, I end up having a long gratitude list at the end of the day from little moments.
Exercise and I have a complicated relationship, for years now. It’s no brainer the benefits I reap when I work-out. I always look and feel FANTASTIC when I would be working out. But for some reason, it’s still not an activity I get excited to do or can commit to effortlessly. However, I felt the urgency and sedateness effects of running up and down the stairs at least 4-5times/week. I’m sure I need not explain any further the benefits documented on how exercise can strengthen your mental health.
I love to care for my body as much as I do for my mind. Because of my packed schedule I had, time spent doing my skincare beauty and hair treatments was only left on days like Sunday. Spending time doing home spa beauty treatments was a lot of fun and very therapeutic. It still amazes me to find people who don’t like taking care of their outer appearance. If not to look good, do it because it FEELS GOOD.
During my spa sessions, I spent time catching up on all my favourite podcasts. Or I would be dancing away to my favourite Jamz (I definitely feel I’m a better dancer than I was in January…meet me at the dancefloor, I’M READY!)!
I definitely had some days that were more difficult than others. I’m grateful that when all else seemed to fail, I had my phone, with all my close family and friends to call whenever I needed a shoulder to rest on.
Today, I’m grateful for all the advanced communication platforms to see and talk with all my loved ones:
Until the next post, I’m leaving you all with some of that good-good mental health vibes:)