10 Lessons I Learned from Having Anxiety and Navigating Through the Pandemic
  1. Scrolling through and reading every article is NOT good:
    It is so tempting to look at everything that you scroll through, that is sent to you, and let’s face it, we all have that one friend that sends us all of the worst news they hear. It consumes our minds, and before we know it, our anxiety begins to spiral. I have learned the importance of filtering the information that is presented to me. I began to unfollow people and accounts. When I want to read something, I pick a reliable source and check out their page/website. I put up boundaries. They are necessary, but difficult. People will understand. If they don’t after you explain it, they are not your people. Your mental health is always what’s most important.
  2. Making a schedule is a MUST:
    When I first started my self-quarantine, I was very anxious about not having my schedule. A schedule is very important to me and helps me to stay motivated, happy, and healthy. I was so scared of the unknown, and what seemed to be something that would last a week or two, is now going to be going on for an unknown amount of time. I panicked. I felt out of control. I have been used to having control over things as a means of survival. But I couldn’t now. I knew that I had to let myself feel or it was going to build up over time. I used my support, and then felt all of the things. Boy, was it difficult. But I had to sit there with it. After a few days, I decided that I was going to make the best of this situation; maybe not every day, but I was determined to not let this get the best of me and ruin all of the hard work I have done on myself. So, I made a little schedule, and it has made such a difference. Start small, but commit to it 😊
  3. Moving every day is ESSENTIAL:
    I wanted to hide under the blankets, hibernate like a bear for a few months, and wake up when it was over. But that’s not how life is, and I needed to get up and live to the best of my ability. So, I moved. I did exercises on the floor when I could. I went for a walk. Every few hours, I would stand and stretch. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Stretching feels so good and is a great way to move your body. Try some neck, shoulder, wrist, and ankle rolls. Stretch your back and neck and feel the tension release. This is not about exercise or losing weight. This is about being physically and mentally healthy.
  4. Self-care DAILY helps to keep my mind healthy:
    Self-care is a catch word, and sometimes can lose it’s meaning. It can also get placed in a superficial category. Self-care is multi-dimensional, and includes mental, physical, spiritual, etc. Every day, I am learning that I need to practice self-care. It can be all day or 5 minutes. I trust and listen to my mind and body when it tells me what I need. Take the time for you, or the time will be taken from you. Invest in yourself so you can invest in the people you love as well as your passions.
  5. Keeping a safe space in my place allows me to RELAX:
    This is a time where we are in our houses more than usual. I am an introvert, but even being one, this is a lot of time home. I find it important to make space in my home to feel calm. For me, I made a little shelf that I bought on amazon. I put a few of my favorite books, a picture I printed out, framed, and wrote on of my dogs, flowers, a candle, and a few other items. It just brightens my day when I am relaxing. It makes me smile and helps me when I am feeling anxious. It is nothing big, but to me, it’s a space I can go to in order to calm myself, practice mediation, and bring some harmony and balance back into my mind and body.
  6. This time is a HUGE test for my agoraphobia:
    As many of you might know, I had such bad anxiety that I did not leave my home for months at a time. As I slowly fought my way back, I had to adapt to a life that now included a lot of time at home. This was difficult to do, but it was part of my healing process, and getting back into the world. I learned little life hacks that allowed me to continue getting healthy. For instance, I started doing home facials and manis and pedis, home workouts, cooking, grocery delivery, online studies, etc. It allowed me to excel as well as slowly lessen my anxiety. So, when the pandemic started happening, I was ready for it. I mean, I had the anxiety, and all the at home tools, you would think it would be a piece of cake, right? WRONG. On one hand, I had been through this, and worse, in terms of having to stay at home. But on the other hand, I had really started getting involved in a lot of things and going out. This is something I had dreamed about and waited a long time for it to happen. I was so happy, and then this hit, on my birthday of all times to happen. Life has a way of throwing a wrench into plans and placing obstacles when its finally smooth sailing. I knew I could do this, and even furthermore, help others. But it also brought back memories and triggered the time when I didn’t leave. I began to panic that it would happen again. I knew rationally I was at a different time with lots of my own resources, but I was scared. I allowed myself to feel this, and then I implemented a plan to help my anxiety, and in a twist of irony, purposely plan to not leave my home. This has been wild and crazy, and I have a feeling it’s just the beginning. But I have trust and faith in myself that it will be okay. And I have the same for you! 😊
  7. Checking on my extrovert friends is important:
    This was so crazy when I really thought about it. I have always known to check in with myself and all my other anxious and depressed people in my life. I have always known to check in with the strong ones that secretly hurt as I was one of those. But to think that I had to check in on my “normal, extroverted” friends is so foreign to me. They are the ones, according to society, that have great mental health. But then I realized that even they were experiencing anxiety over what’s happening as well as having to stay inside. I am learning that we literally are all in this together for the first time in a long time.
  8. Keeping COMMUNICATION is key:
    Communication is always key. But it is especially important during these times in our lives. Communicating our feelings is vital in order to process all the emotions we have inside of us. There is a sense of grieving right now, and it is important to go through the different stages. Reaching out to friends, colleagues, and family will help you to feel connected. There are also many online services and resources out there. Always take time for yourself, but don’t hesitate to reach out 😊
  9. For the first time, people feel how I do DAILY:
    For a very long time, most people did not know I had anxiety. It is sometimes referred to as the invisible illness. Due to this, people didn’t understand the severity of my anxiety. Over time, I had perfected my “social front.” I spoke a lot, told jokes, asked lots of questions and listened. Although I genuinely cared, I put the emphasis on other people, so they didn’t see the anxiety. I was embarrassed and I didn’t think people would understand. Most people don’t understand this kind of anxiety, and since it is not a physical illness, people think you have more control over it than you do. But when you have an anxiety disorder and your nervous system is out of whack (for lack of a better phrase), it is difficult and takes time to consistently lesson anxiety. When I tried to explain, it fell upon deaf ears for the most part. But now that this is happening, people are feeling this constant fear and anxiety that is seemingly difficult to control. The entire world is realizing that everybody has mental health and that it is important to take care of our own mental health while helping others to break the stigma!
  10. I learned that I am especially CAPABLE, ENOUGH, and WORTHY to help lead others:
    It is hard for me to admit how unworthy and incapable I felt for a lot of my life. Somewhere, deep inside, I knew I was, but I was surrounded by so much negativity. It highly impacted my decisions, and my self-worth. I look back and I think about how I let others treat me and how I didn’t value myself. But as I decided that I would start over and get reintroduced to myself, I realized that I really liked this girl. I learned to trust in my instinct and trust myself before others. That is still really hard as well as holding myself and others accountable each and everyday with my boundaries. This time is showing me that I can, and I am a leader that has a voice and things to say that will help others. This is our time to step up and into ourselves!!
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