In January, the year 2020 looked so promising, but February swept by and then March made the world stop in its track. It’s weird how COVID-19 flipped the world upside down almost overnight. To think that everything was open, we were organizing social events, going to work and then the world just stopped. It caused many to lose their jobs, it made stay-at-home orders mandatory, it closed the doors on businesses.
If you were lucky to stay home and work from home, your work/life balance was all of a sudden pushed to stay in our homes. I have tried to remain positive. But it seems that after thinking about and talking with my therapist that COVID-19 has triggered one of my fears and brought on the anxiety full force — as I fear death.
Where does the fear come from? How does COVID feed that fear?
As far as I can remember, I think death became a real fear in my senior year of high school. I feared hearing friends, family members dying. I especially remember one incident in particular that set that fear into motion. I remember that a classmate had died in a car accident. She touched everyone with her smile, her spirit, her athleticism, her positivity, and in an instance… she was gone.
Her spirit lived on with us at the end of our senior year. I remember clearly not wanting to accept it and not wanting to go to the funeral or any memorial services. And it affected me emotionally. I don’t think that I have ever talked about or even took time to grieve, to be mindful of how I was feeling, and how to move forward. I just tucked it away and moved along.
So, I guess from thereon I have feared death and have known that I am not invincible. I often don’t do things because of the fear of dying. Sometimes I feel like I have to do more. With COVID-19 being all the rage and hearing the numbers rising. I catch myself thinking about if my family will be taken care of? Will my family be okay? What happens if I get sick and die, is everything going to be okay? Will anyone be there to take care of me? Am I going to wake up in the morning? Take a deep breath…
The uncertainty of it all with COVID-19 along with a movement against police brutality and injustices has had my mind wound uptight. With COVID-19, daily reports of deaths, and those infected by the virus. Also reading stories of loved ones isn’t able to see or hear from their loved ones. With the Black Lives Matter movement, reports of those getting arrested, harmed by teargas, and physical damage from rubber bullets. My mind was spinning on “what do I do if I get stopped by the police? Could I die?” to “what do I do if I get COVID-19? Could I die?” Even if I am doing all of the recommended guidelines and following the rules, is that going to be enough to survive a virus or the hands of the police? It’s a lot. I know.
So, as I did before, I decided to bury my feelings and ignored them. I got to work on projects and goals that I ultimately had my eye on in January 2020. I got to working on them and getting to work — some personal, some professional. But still, ignoring signs that I wasn’t okay. It wasn’t until the panic attacks and anxiety started to feel like an urge to vomit, to cry at a moment’s notice, waking up and wanting to stay in bed with my depression.
Ways that I am learning to cope
- Daily self-care: Be sure to take a moment when you need it. Moments to take a mental break and breath. Yeah, to focus on breathing. Did you know that when you are stressed, your breathing becomes shallow? It’s almost like you are holding your breath during shallow situations. Sometimes, taking a moment to collect your thoughts can help calm a situation down, lessen the anxiety, and, of course, give you a chance to catch your breath.
Some other things that help with this are sticking to a daily routine, staying active with physical activities, trying to maintain a healthy diet, limiting your screen time, limiting time spent on social media channels consuming content, and definitely remembering to breathe.
- Self-care: I am big on this and I like to call them Self-Felicia time or you can call them Self-[Insert Your Name here]. It’s a time to find peace, rest your mind and body. For me, it’s a good time to soak in the tub with the Bone & Basil Relax Brew and listen to relaxing music from Calm. I also like to spend some time in the recliner. We put a back massager on it.
- Mental health: At the beginning of all this I did my best to keep going like I was okay. Don’t do that. It’s okay to be feeling happy and then to all of a sudden feel like you’re not okay. First, remember to take a deep breath, meditate. It’s okay to cry. My goodness, I have definitely had a couple of good cries in the last couple of days. Journaling is also a good thing to get all the feelings, emotions out.
- Meditation: I take at least ten minutes out of the day to meditate using the app Calm or Shine. They have daily meditation themes that they focus on and they work on breathing, getting your mind off of things. Finding a bit of peace.
- Therapy is for everyone: I recommend making an appointment with your therapist just to organize your thoughts and get some tools to cope with your current situation. Therapy still has a negative stigma. It’s not for those that are in dire situations or just for the rich as portrayed in the media once upon a time. It helps heal, dealing with things with family, and helps see things from a different perspective.
- One thing at a time: I know that we are multitasking, high power doing machine as we are so used to multitasking that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Remember to take your time and focus on one project at a time. If you have to multitask, be to focus on 1-3 things that you are able to keep track of.
- Making time for family, friends: Take a moment or schedule a day where you and your immediate family are together. Maybe have themed nights, game nights, movie nights. A time to take your mind off the chaos. You might be able to take a walk in a local park and remain physically distant from others. But I recommend or endorse no large groups or gatherings.
For those that you can’t see in-person, schedule some Zoom happy hours, game night, Netflix watch party, or other social activity. I know it’s not the same, but it still keeps things social.
- Limiting my time on social media: I am a big social media advocate, but I am sure that taking in more social media has helped keep my mind focused and not looking at posts by others that might be controversial. Keep working on you, don’t compete with what you see online.
- Keeping busy: Take up a new hobby. There are a lot of entrepreneurs doing live sessions or masterclasses on their website or social media during this time. Read a book that you have been meaning to get to. I have read a couple of books, played some games, fundraisers for organizations that I believe in, producing content online, and more. Wash, set, and style that wig that you have been meaning to get to. Work on that costume that you always wanted to design. If you are doing costume work, send me a link. I might be interested on getting some new stuff. Ha ha.
Those are just a few ways that I am coping with COVID-19 and one of my fears, triggers. Take it one step at a time and work on things, work on yourself during this time. I hope that this helps. What are some of your triggers that have been activated during this time? How are you coping this with it and managing your relationships? Let me know in the comments.