Stress, worry, and anxiety are common problems that many of us experience from time to time. However, as everyone knows, we are living in uncertain times right now as we face the Coronavirus Pandemic. As humans, during uncertain times, our stress, worry, and anxiety accelerate, and this pandemic has done just that for many. The world, as we knew it has changed drastically in the last few weeks. As Americans, this is the first time we are experiencing anything of this caliber. Given the news coverage, it is hard not to worry about what this all means for our loved ones and for us.
The pandemic has already caused a financial crisis for many industries. One of those industries is the Hospitality Industry, where thousands of people have been laid off or furloughed from one day to the other. For those dealing with the loss of a job on top of the unknown, it can feel incredibly overwhelming, leading to anxiety or depression.
We all handle our stress and our emotions differently, and this is something we need to keep in mind as we practice social distancing. We are left at home with our loved ones, and this new normal has us together 24/7, which for many, could be an adjustment that takes time.
Like you and most households, I’ve experienced this in my own home in the last couple of weeks. I’ve always worked from home, so that for me is not different. But like many, my spouse is now at home also. This is not a bad thing; however, we both handle stress differently, and this pandemic has created another level of stress for us.
You see, I handle things by continuing with my routines and keeping myself busy. On the other hand, my husband wants to be informed and is glued to the news channels. I’ve maintained my morning routines with prayer, dog walks, and yoga. He has had trouble sleeping and, as a result, feels irritated. My spiritual meetings have moved to Zoom meetings, and he has disconnected himself from his meetings. The differences in our self-care routines have shown. I am not as stressed, and his anxiety levels have increased.
I have to admit that the first week of this new household routine took a toll on us. Our patience with each other decreased, and we argued more. But then one day, after asking myself what could be happening, I realized that his mood swings were coming from a place of fear. Fear for our future and what can happen to us. That’s when I realized that for us to get back to loving each other, I needed to show compassion and my routine needed to include him.
I share this with you because I know we are not alone. I know there are many couples and households that may be experiencing the same challenges and I want you to know that you are not alone. This is the time that we all need to be compassionate and loving towards one another, even when we don’t feel like it.
Worry and fear come from thinking about the future. It is natural to worry during uncertain times like these. But if you feel that your anxiety is becoming excessive and taking over your life, then it’s crucial to take steps to manage your wellbeing with self-care.
How do you know when worry is taking over your life?
- You have restlessness, unable to relax or problems sleeping that can include strange dreams/nightmares.
- You feel upset, short-tempered, or exhausted all the time.
- You are experiencing difficulty concentrating, staying focused, or working.
- You feel unexplained muscle tension, aches, and pains.
In addition to compassion, it is essential to practice self-care techniques. One of my favorite self-care techniques is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that will help you cope with the worry. Mindfulness is staying in the present. If you feel any of the symptoms listed above, then this is the time to stay in the moment and not think about what could happen. Mindfulness will help you do this.
Here are a few mindfulness exercises that you can do to help you deal with your worry and anxiety:
- Focus on your breath throughout the day. Make sure you are taking deep breaths. Take 10 deep breaths when you feel the worry or anxiety coming on.
- Pick a color and take a walk. As you walk, look around for all the things you can identify that are in that color. This will take your mind off the negativity.
- Daily Journal: A daily practice can help you release your anxiety. Journal about how you feel and what you can do to release those feelings or keep a gratitude journal.
The unknown can be scary. Self-care and compassion are most important now more than ever. It is essential to take this time to do what makes you feel good. To be you while caring for your loved ones too.
Another way to look after yourself is by keeping a daily routine. This doesn’t have to be super structured, but it should include:
- Things that give you a sense of achievement: Cleaning out closets, doing your taxes, taking an online course, etc.
- Things that help you feel close and connected: Calling friends and family, setting up a Zoom call so that you can all see each other, or playing a card game at home.
- Things that bring you pleasure and joy: Reading a book, binge-watching your favorite series, dancing, singing, doing something creative, or trying something new.
Lastly, it’s okay to feel – move through your emotions. It’s okay to cry, shout, or scream. Just be mindful not to take it out on your loved ones, and if your loved ones need to cry, shout or scream, encourage them to do so and be there for them. We are all in this together, and we can get through it by taking care of ourselves and each other.
I am going to start a free support group via Zoom, and it will take place weekly on Wednesdays from noon to 1 pm (EST). Everyone is invited. These will be purely support sessions, there will not be much structure, and I will not be selling anything at the end. We may have some topics to help us get our conversations started, and that will be the only structure. The idea is to have a support group that is a safe space where we can all be authentic as we continue to face the uncertain future of Covid-19.
Edited 3/30/20: Register on Evenbrite If you are interested in participating by clicking on this link: https://face-everything-and-rise-free-weekly-support-group.eventbrite.com
You will receive a link for the Zoom call once you register. The first call will take place this coming Wed, April 1st. If you know of anyone that may be interested, feel free to forward this article and/or just give them my email address.
Let’s keep ourselves healthy – mind, body, and soul.
Blessings to all,