Last month I was feeling a bit “off” but because I wore a mask everywhere and I was consistently rubbing my hands raw with hand sanitizer, I assumed it was nothing or maybe a mild cold. Still I took precautions since my dad is high risk. A few days later, I started to get an unexplained rash all over my body and that’s when I became obsessed with researching photos of bug bites.
I never heard of people getting a rash with Covid so Frank and I checked for ticks and bed bugs and everything you could think of. We couldn’t find anything or think of what caused it and every morning I woke up with a new section of my body covered in red itchy spots.
My intuition told me that this was something more serious so Frank and I went to get a Covid-19 test and sure enough…mine came back positive.
Honestly, it was a bit scary. My anxiety kicked into overdrive at the thought of losing my ability to breath.
I am very healthy so I knew I would be okay but I also have an autoimmune condition that could complicate things. Luckily my symptoms were mild and lasted a couple weeks. Besides the rash I felt like I had a mild flu with fatigue and severe brain fog.
Being someone that struggles with anxiety, controlling my mindset was what I found most important during those two weeks. I had a few moments where I felt like I was on the verge of an anxiety attack and I had to use all of my tools to help calm myself down.
I haven’t talked about my experience with Covid-19 because I know so many other people are getting it much worse. Others are losing family members and loved ones. I can’t imagine. But I do think it’s important to share what I learned from it all, as someone with a history of anxiety.
And to top that off, it’s a very lonely feeling when you are struggling with something that forces you to stay in isolation.
My hope is that maybe these tips will help you during a time of struggle.
1.Relabel what is happening.
This was a big one for me. Every time I started getting anxious I would give myself a pep talk and put a new label on my situation. The phrase that I used consistently was…”You have Covid but you are healthy. You eat well. You take care of your body and your mind. You can handle this. It’ll be okay.”
2. Focus on your breathing.
This is SO simple and you have probably heard it a gazillion times but I bet you forget to use it when you need it most. I used to follow breathing techniques but I found over the years that the easiest and most effective method is to just get quiet and focus on slowing my breathing down.
3. Call out your BS.
Fact check your thoughts. Most of the time you will find that they are total BS. Ask yourself if your thoughts are valid and if so where are they coming from.
4. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 rule.
Look around you and name 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell and one thing you taste.
5. Do something.
Often when my mind wanders to places I don’t want to be in I get up and do something. Keep a list of things that ground you and choose one of those to do until you can center yourself again. I rely a lot on going for walks in nature or baking in the kitchen. Those are easy ways for me to regroup and refocus my thoughts. It’s also important to note that it’s incredibly helpful to move your body during times of high stress so any movement you can get in will help!
6. Make a list of the things you can control.
You might not be able to control what is happening to you at the moment but you CAN control other things going on in your life and in your head. I love making lists and anytime I feel anxious or overwhelmed I make a list of the things I can control in that moment. I give myself permission to stop worrying about the rest.
7. Prioritize your relationships.
Even with all the social distancing happening…nothing is better than some face to face time with loved ones. You can schedule coffee dates via Zoom or Google Hangouts or Facetime. Get creative and focus on your connections.
8. Eat well.
Of course there isn’t a food or diet plan that can help with building resilience when it comes to hard times but there are studies out there that show the connections between eating healthy and lowering our stress and anxiety. Eating plants and whole unprocessed foods will help you cope by giving you energy, strengthening your immune system and feeling physically prepared to face what is happening.
9. Be patient with yourself.
The most important thing to remember is to be patient with yourself. Healing takes time. Feeling better takes time. I had to be SUPER patient with myself and the fact that I couldn’t work or operate at my max capacity. I knew that in order to feel better I had to let myself rest and recharge.
I’d love to hear what strategies or techniques you use to deal with difficult moments.