COVID anxiety

Will this be a new term, that we will start using alongside burnout and stress? Or should I rather ask, for how long will we be in fear of COVID-19 and why does this panic set in? Better yet, how do we best deal with this? That’s what I want to talk about and I hope it can be helpful for you.

Hope (less) ness

To begin with, anxiety sets in when we don’t know what to expect. And we don’t when something like COVID-19 comes along. Every day we get new information, every day it seems to get closer to us and every day we wonder if we are going to get it or not. We probably cannot do much about that.

We cannot change what’s happening, but we can change our relationship with what is happening.

Hope isn’t enough right now. Just hoping you are not going to get it, even if hope usually is a good remedy for anxiety, is just not going to cut it. In this case (and feel free to disagree with me) we need action to manage fear, because action is a good antidote to anxiety.

Fear (less) ness

To stay safe, we are going home to work virtually, which in itself could provide a healthier work-culture, if it wasn’t because of fear because working from home in this case, can to some feel more like a prison than freedom. It can also spike our anxiety because we are losing out on the community aspect, that usually helps us feel safe in the world. You could argue that community is under attack, because we are being forced to stay away from each other and we therefore miss out on the daily human to human connection, that usually feeds, fuels and nourishes us. However even though staying safe, removing ourselves from the potential of infection is important right now, living in fear is not healthy.

Finding balance

If you, like me and most people, have a whole range of emotions every day. From hope to hopelessness, fear to fearlessness. It’s ok, you are normal, human, but it might not work for you. Instead, let’s focus on how can we find the balance. The in-between that helps us function thru this without the constant push and pull of emotions, the impulses and thoughts of anxiety that render us unproductive as we try to keep up with the added workload of being virtually engaged.

Being engaged

What’s most challenging about this situation is that we don’t feel we have enough tools, would you agree? Washing our hands, staying away from people and don’t touch your face doesn’t seem to cut it. We also constantly hear that the virus is spreading. Hiding from the world and other people can make us feel even more alone, scared and something like a doomsday scenario is upon us, and being engaged on social media is probably causing more of an emotional roller-coaster than anything else. So what can you do?

Action as antidote

What we can do is more than just protecting ourselves from the world outside, we can take really good care of the very body, that needs the protection. Officials are saying that vitamin and healthy food is not a cure. True, but it will help us proactively survive this whole thing better.

The better we eat and take care of our physical, emotional and mental health, the more resilient our bodies are and after all, it’s our bodies that are going to have to fight through this. Our immune-system matters. That is the one thing we can be in action about right now. Self-care.

Health is your best tool

Everyone has this option. That’s the good news. We can all take better care of ourselves and this very body we each have, that needs to overcome this. I know that for some it is a matter of survival. And it’s scary. It still comes down to how well we can support our bodies to survive, recover and heal.

  1. We can all drink more water instead of soda, coffee and alcohol, which are all substances that drain our immune system, more than supports us.
  2. We can all eat more whole-food rather than processed food, which means more nutrients and therefore better support for our immune and recovery system, which just again a reminder, our bodies are designed to be that. We fight disease with our immune system and we recover and heal because our bodies know how to self-regulate and self-heal when given the right circumstances to do so.
  3. We can all have a more emotionally and mentally supportive relationship with the challenge and the fear, so that we are not beating ourselves up, but rather cheering ourselves on.

Staying on top of our health is probably the most important tool we all share right now.

Comfort-eating doesn’t work

When anxiety hits, when we are in emotional limbo and mental stress, we tend to self-soothe with comfort foods, extra sugar and that extra glass of wine. We are numbing ourselves to hide from reality and stop the thoughts of fear from spinning, but right now is not the time to disengage.

Right now is the time to step it up. To fiercely practice self-care.

Fierce self-care

You cannot change what’s happening, but you can change how powerless you feel about it. Self-care can help you feel more in the driver’s seat. It can help you feel more present and ready, engaged and in action. Self-care is what comes from the relationship you have with yourself and right now – this is it baby. This is the test you have been waiting for.

Are you and your body a team?

Right now you have to be a strong team. Right now you matter and you can do your best to support your body in being as healthy as possible.

Check your self-care

Self-Communication: how do you speak to yourself every day that might be causing you more anxiety? What would you like to hear that would help you feel more empowered?

Self-Awareness: How do you feel today? Check in with your body and see what you need. More sleep, more water, a walk (yes you can still go for walks, the world is not contagious), more energy (eat well) more love (do a virtual tea’n’chat with a friend.

Self-Responsibility: Are you creating a routine that keeps you healthy, even if you are working from home?

Self-Expression: Are you speaking up about what you need? Are you asking for help? Are you keeping healthy boundaries?

The world is changing all around us. We are being challenged to rethink how we work. And we are certainly being asked to step up our self-care. Let’s figure out how! Let’s all rise to the challenge.

More about “not if but how” in my next blog-post – stay tuned.

I am also going to start some virtual short-sessions (for free). We are all in this together, so stay tuned here to be included.

I will also make virtual self-care work-shops available in the next few weeks for individuals and companies. Email me here if you are interested in learning more about work-shops or coaching for yourself or for your company.

Photo by Miguel Bruna via Unsplash