When I first came to write this post I felt a massive sense of guilt surrounding it.
Whilst we are all living through uncertain, and anxious, times, I must firsthand acknowledge the position of privilege I have, before empathising with the pain and difficulties may of you face right now.
Whilst I don’t believe anyone should ever have to justify their experience of anxiety, with all the toilet paper stocked in the cupboard, a garden and fresh food on the table, I have little to no rational reasons to be anxious.
Yet here I am.
With a colourful past history of mental health struggles (namely anorexia ) I am no stranger to anxiety, and the constant whirlwind of feeling “out of control”…regardless of reality.
Unfortunately anxiety is inevitable when faced with change.
Presenting new challenges.
Mental health is indiscriminate; erratic.
Each persons’ struggle is valid, each voice deserving of a reassuring ear.
Most, if not all, of us will experience anxiety across this uncertain time, and that is a normal response. But it can easily overwhelm, even debilitate your days, presenting abnormal, unhealthy, responses to cope.
[Click here to to read my post on the differences between mental health and mental illness]
The Key Lies In…
Understanding where your anxiety stems from.
Having your tool box of strategies to keep you grounded.
Reminding yourself it will subside.
And that my friends is where I come in to help.
Understanding Your Quarantine Created Anxiety
We are creatures of habit, and creatures of control.
The comfort and security found in work and social routines (regardless of its monotony) are our own individual worlds to create. To control.
The breaks slammed on, without our initiation or preparation… (although arguably we could, and should have, been prepared from alerts in December)…
For 3 weeks? 6 months?
Fear breeds in the unknown.
We Have A Part To Play
We have responsibility for siding with, or challenging, our anxious thoughts.
If we play into them we give them breeding space.
We get worked up, fearful, pessimistic.
If we challenge them we choose to understand our anxiety, and in turn, understand ourselves more.
What triggers are there? Is there a more rational view?
I’m Bored, I’m Bored, I’m Bored...
I know for many, including myself, boredom presents an uncomfortable existence.
But for many keeping busy work schedules provides an anchor for their self worth; a distraction, or excuse, to not sit with themselves.
Quarantine may strip away more than just your social calendar, revealing some unwelcome personal truths.
If you let it, you can allow this space to provide growth in other areas: reigniting creativity, forward planning and increasing self-awareness.
Your life is not completely on pause.
Many years in recovery from anorexia have enabled me to sit with discomfort, and not feed (too much) into toxic thoughts.
Allowing discomfort to rise and slowly fall, distracting myself with little activities, not expecting harder days to be productive ones, and acknowledging the good (moments in) day.
My Present Experience
For me COVID caused an abrupt end to a very special experience.
This past year life has seemed nothing short of incredible.
A six week holiday touring around New Zealand turned into over a year in Australia. Traveling from Sydney to Cairns, before finally settling in Melbourne with a wonderful family I spent 10 months au pairing for.
My worries were novel:
“Do I have enough money to do kayaking and the bungee jump ?
“Will the girls want spaghetti or Tacos tonight for dinner? ”
But news of countries closing borders and flight cancellations with no promise of refunds, all provided a nasty slap-in-the -face.
Acting fast, and following Government recommendations, meant me and my partner thankfully missed the chaos that followed for many travellers.
Although the end was inevitable, leaving the family was somewhat harder.
I wasn’t mentally prepared for a Pandemic to be the cause of return.
In Australia I’d made a new home away from home.
Somewhere I felt I truly blossomed.
Somewhere I felt I truly belonged.
As the 22.20 flight from Melbourne took off, I sat leaning against the window, watching the runway lights fade, hoody pulled up over my head so that the air-hostesses wouldn’t notice the small tears trickling down my cheeks.
Back to a town that remains largely unchanged from the day I’d left, over a year ago.
“Will old unhelpful patterns of behaviour re-emerge?”
Isolation worries crept in, as if I were an alcoholic returning to their favourite bar.
Upon arrival, no hugs allowed at the airport.
Same old childhood room.
No welcome home drinks, or garden parties.
Same messy drawers and unkempt cupboards.
No sight seeing ventures for my partner, who has never before been to England.
No jobs as businesses close and shopping streets are desolate.
But at least I have family, safe shelter and health. This is a privilege that I will never take for granted again.
10 Top Tips
Manage Your Anxiety in Quarantine
With endless resources now available, from live cooking and dance lessons, free online home workouts, art challenges and more…There has never been a better time to reconnect with old hobbies, develop a new skill or simply invest in your rest and relationships.
Try Adding These
10 Simple Steps in Your Weekly Routine
Keeping a Morning Routine. Keep getting up and out of bed. Shower. Get changed (even if into a different pair of pyjamas).
Eating well is non-negotiable. 5 a day. And I include Gin, chocolate because balance
Prioritising Movement. Usually as part of morning routine. Get outside, even just to stand in fresh air, once a day.
Limiting Time on BBC News & Social Media. There is only so much I can take.
Journaling. I’m a big believer of a journal/diary, any creative outlet, or way to process thoughts and anxieties. Doesn’t have to be the next best seller, and there is no right or wrong.
[Don’t know where to start click here]
Personal Development. 30-60mins of piano, yoga, revision, documentary. Try learning something new, or developing a skill each week.
Keeping Connected. Face Timing friends. Zoom Quiz nights. Check in with neighbours.
Be Present. Time with family is precious. Play old games, watch movies, hear each others stories.
Be Gentle. Do enjoyable or comforting activities everyday. It’s ok to watch TV even when it’s sunny. Have your favourite comfort food. Don’t feel guilty for slowing down (and if you do, journal your thought processes).
Acceptance. There will be harder days; these are inevitable.
I am SO proud of this country’s creativity and community; our incredible NHS, and all those who are using their spare time to provide service.
If you have found this, or any of my other posts, helpful, please leave a comment below or message me via Instagram.