I’m not a mental health expert. Let me just start with that. I took a couple of psychology classes in college but nothing about mental health disorders – I could probably bring in a friend to chat about that another day though. But I wanted to share how I’m managing my anxiety. I know that these are unique times we’re living through and anxiety-prone people like myself are struggling. I’m struggling. But I’m managing.
When I First Noticed My Anxiety
A couple of summers ago I suffered some sort of anxiety attack. I was running, and I had to stop. I was crying uncontrollably, couldn’t breathe, and just… couldn’t move. I don’t remember the cause, but it was right before I started Body Back with Fit4Mom. I was tired of struggling with my weight and felt some sort of overwhelming anxiety related to it – in that moment I had a crippling fear that my husband would leave me because of my weight – completely unreasonable but the fear sent me spiraling into a terrible depression. It was then, probably summer of 2016ish that I first went on anti-depressants.
They helped. Body back helped. Then, a year or maybe two later, I fell apart again.
A previous job I had, that had some a terrible work-life balance, including 60 hour work weeks, and was just a terrible fit for me. Missing all of Ethan’s OT appointments, never being able to be on pickup, it was terribly anxiety-inducing and it was that job that I first visited my doctor to up my medication. Too many nights of crying, cringing when I woke up in the morning, feeling inadequate and like I was living in a downward spiral.
Managing My Anxiety in a Pandemic
Let’s be honest, the current Pandemic life isn’t helping any of us who suffer from anxiety. Whether you’re worried about getting sick, or if you’re one of the 3+ million people who are suddenly out of work, we’re living in a stressful time.
Early last week, my position at work was eliminated, effectively laying me off. The first time since our honeymoon that I lost a job. Cue all the anxiety over our finances, over whether I’ll find another role, or, or, or… seriously, this is the challenge of anxiety – you get lost in a sea of worst-case scenarios.
Managing my own anxiety under normal times is challenging, but currently? Being quarantined with my husband and child and losing my job? Ooof. I’m an introvert at heart, with mild extroverted tendencies. I like my space and my solo time. So having my family in my ish 24/7 is another factor because I’m lacking my personal space and quiet time.
So how? How does one maintain one’s mental health during a quarantine? During such unique times? Here are my top ways to manage my anxiety.
Go for a run
Running is my main avenue. I’ve been pseudo-streaking for the past 20+ days. Each year I attempt to run/walk at least one mile a day for 30ish days (this year I turn 37, so 37(ish) days) before my birthday. I’ve missed a handful of days – including the day they announced Ethan’s school closing, the day after I lost my job because I just didn’t feel like it, and Saturday because it rained and Adam was volunteering at the firehouse, and Ethan went to bed too late and I just…didn’t feel like it.
When my anxiety is in overdrive, it tends to impact my sleep mostly. Like my brain can’t turn off. Thinking about all the what-ifs, running through things I forgot to do, and worst-case scenarios for everything. Calm gummies were paramount to fixing my sleep. I can’t take my anxiety medication at night, I take it in the morning, so when I can’t sleep, I take calm gummies.
I turn off. Instead of endlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, I’ll disconnect and read a book instead. Also, turn off the TV – I tell Hubs this all the time, turn off the damn news. It’s all sensational, because how else do they fill 24 hours? But seriously, turn off the TV. Close your computer.
On high anxiety days, I’ll stop for five-ten minutes to meditate. I love the Calm app for guided meditations, also the peloton app (I use the digital app, no bike for me.) has some great meditations. But it’s a great way to pause and just…reset. Which we all need sometimes. Guided meditations are also great for those of us who can’t slow down our minds, start small, but seriously it helps.
Keep Your Routines
Many of us have had our routines completely imploded. For me, it was having my husband move into my office (before I lost my job), and Ethan home with me. It really helped me to kind of keep a routine. Whether it was getting a run in, or all of us having dinner together. We’re setting new routines, but keeping some sense of normalcy (i.e. Ethan’s bedtime routine is the same, starting work at the same time – Ethan and I do school work in the mornings now, and Adam starts work by 9 am – keeping that sense of normalcy has been necessary for all of us.
Write it down
Find a creative outlet. Journal. Blog. Whatever it is. Write it down. I’ve been journaling since I was 13 – less so lately but trying to get back into it because writing down feelings has gotten me through ALL of the hard times in my life.
Talk to Someone
Have a friend that will listen, or better yet, hire a professional. Can’t find a therapist? There’s an app for that. Check out a therapy app, like Talkspace or Betterhelp. However, you do it, don’t hold your feelings in. Find someone you trust to talk it out with.
Let yourself feel your feelings. Acknowledge them and don’t be afraid to express them. Find healthy outlets and don’t bottle your emotions in. Acknowledge that these are crazy times we’re living through. Journal your way through it all so you learn about your triggers and what coping mechanisms work for you.