A couple of months ago when the infection rates of Covid-19 (or coronavirus) soared in China, people around me (I live in New Zealand) began to express their fears and concerns. I purposely down-played the situation. You see, I live with low-grade anxiety and by minimising the virus, it was a way I could keep myself calm. That changed dramatically when the virus hit New Zealand. I went from manageable anxiety to feelings of intense worry, fear and even felt very panicky.
I was in this heightened, distressed state for a couple of days. I was tense, unable to think straight, I couldn't answer my kids' questions (so many questions!) and I was getting worse. I started trembling and because I wasn't sleeping very well, I was becoming exhausted. This was something I was going to have to address. For my sake, for my children's sake. They were looking to me for guidance and this situation was an opportunity to show my kids how to overcome adversity. I needed to take control of what I could control - my emotional state. I needed a plan!
It was about this time I came across the #next90challenge which saved my butt. I've done this challenge by Rachel Hollis before (if you haven't heard of her, I'm not sure where you have been hiding?) and really enjoyed it. It was the perfectly timed kickstart I needed to shift my thinking.
1. What am I grateful for?
I started by getting up earlier so I could have some time alone before the rest of the house stirred. The very first thing I do every morning is make a hot drink, (freshly squeezed lemon and salt) and sip it while I write out 5 things I am grateful for. It sounds cheesy, but there is scientific research that you cannot be grateful and anxious at the same time. It works. I'm on day 10 of doing this and I have almost ZERO anxiety. Yes, even less than pre-Covid!
The 5 things I am grateful for are teeny tiny things in every day, new-normal life. If you look for them, they are there. If you write them down every morning, you will find yourself making a mental note throughout your day of things you are grateful for.
2. Who can I connect with?
We are all in very different living situations but even if you are on your own, thankfully due to technology, you can still connect with your loved ones via the many tools available to do so. If you are feeling low, chances are someone you know is too. Reach out and connect. It helps.
3. What can I let go of?
Like it or not, our daily routine has been altered. Even if you are still working (thank you), there will be some aspects of your life you have had to change. And not everyone enjoys change. One expectation I had to let go was that the kids should stick as close to their pre-Covid structure and routine as possible. I thought it would be reassuring for them. According to the parenting experts, this is not the case. So what are some expectations you can let go of right now?
4. How am I moving my body?
I am a person who exercises in some way for a minimum of 30 minutes almost every day. When I was in the height of my anxiety, I could barely breath on my runs. My stomach was full of knots! I kept forcing myself out there and walked more than I would have liked, but moving my body changed my state and I grew less anxious little by little every time I did. It really does help! My Instagram feed is full of people filming themselves dancing!
5. What will I do outside?
Actually, it doesn't matter what you do outside, just get out there and get some fresh air. If you can't get outside, open the windows and change the quality of the air inside. No matter where you live, whether it be in the country side or in the middle of a busy city, or what your living situation is, everywhere is a little quieter. I have heard so many bumblebees humming as they go about collecting their pollen. I have heard so much birdsong! That feeling of the warm sun on your skin. Even when it rained, I spent an hour outside. The worst thing that happened was I got wet.
That's it, that's my little daily self check-in which significantly reduced my anxiety. It's not a magic cure, it requires a little effort from you, but I am sure as a fellow anxiety sufferer, you agree it is worth it!
Stay safe, stay well. Kia kaha (be strong).