As some countries deploy vaccines with record speed, some (like India) are feeling the worst effects of the pandemic since it started. A few of the things those folks are learning now are the things many of us dealt with back at the start of 2020. One of the most significant being the loss of loved ones, but the other is a perhaps lesser-known malady: the brain-paralyzing impact of COVID anxiety.
I’ll start out with an example from my own experience with this weird symptom, and then I’ll go into ways to battle it that have worked for me. Who knows? It may inspire you to try something you haven’t thought of. We might as well try.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, I found myself glued to the news. Every day, I’d watch as case numbers and deaths rose across the country. Dread that someone in my household would get sick somehow kept me from sleeping, and worry about my own health skyrocketed. It was too new. No one knew how it would impact someone with my condition.
Lockdown went into full swing, and I found myself in a position I’d never been in. Everyone was home with me all day long. I was used to waking up, enjoying my coffee, and planning the day ahead. Those days mostly involved writing, which is a creative endeavor. You need quiet space to focus, and if that focus is disrupted, it takes a while to get back into the flow.
This is true for anyone in the creative space and anyone who does a job where they need to think about what they’re doing for a long period of time both before they begin and during.
Interruptions suck hours away from these folks.
Then there were other people. Everyone was up in arms about what was going on around us, and there were long rants on both sides of the issue of lockdown and mask wearing. Because of the stress of worry, anything anyone did or said that caused an emotional reaction from me was ratcheted up about a thousand notches. We were all on edge.
There were a few weeks where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it mentally. I was inches from a full-on breakdown.
That couldn’t be allowed to happen.
So, I pulled myself together and started looking for other things to do that were still creative but didn’t require long hours of focus. I pivoted so fast I gave people whiplash. It seemed like I’d been planning to do what I did for a long time, when it only came to me naturally as I learned about my new endeavor. It helped. I found myself excited to get out of bed and do something every day.
Now that we’re on the downturn here, I have new skills I wouldn’t have gotten any other way.
This is the part where we talk about what you can do, if you’re in a similar situation, and I hope you get something out of my rambling tale.
Work at night. If you’re struggling to do what you usually do each day, try doing it at night. Everyone will be asleep in your house, and you might be able to set aside time to devote to your craft then.
Get your body moving. If you need a brain boost, check out the article I wrote on exercise here. There’s nothing strenuous in there, and you can do any of it without special equipment. Taking a few minutes each day to reset your brain can’t hurt, and if you’re lucky, the whole family will get in on it. Tired kids are good kids!
Turn off the news. Seriously, walk away from the TV, and maybe step away from social media. None of that stuff helped me—it only drove everything deeper into my already damaged soul.
Talk to family regularly, even if you can’t see them. This is a huge one, and I promise, it does help. If anything happens to one of them, you’ll sleep better knowing you were that much closer.
Take a friend break (or several). Schedule regular video calls with your buds, and set that time aside in your day to have a good time and chat about nothing and everything. My friends and I formed a mini book club, and we meet regularly to chat about our picks.
Read. Even if you’ve never been a reader before, use this as a chance to pick up a book and dive in. I suggest not reaching for post-apocalyptic fiction, but you do you.
Draw. If you suck at drawing, who cares? Even doodles release serotonin! And no one ever has to see your glam artworks. They’re for you.
Basically, what I’m saying is: Don’t let the fear of what might happen rule your life. Dive into something, even if that something is dancing the night away in your living room.
I hope this helps someone.
If you’re feeling depressed, please reach out and find help. I’m sure there are several psychiatrists who are doing Zoom calls for mental health. Talk to someone who counsels for a living, and hang in there! This, too, shall pass.