If you are anxious, you are not lonely.

What the world is going through right now needs no introduction, and it is now clear that we have no choice but to face this COVID crisis with all the strength humanity can gather. It is heartbreaking to see the largest economies of the world being brought down to their knees with no warning, or time to act. Then there are those countries at the brink of high risk, passing each day under very uncertain circumstances. 

In India, we have started to see instances of Corona, and I truly fear that these numbers we see are not the actuals, and there may be many more cases untraced yet. And this thought gets me really really scared. In a country like ours, where population far outdoes basic provisions of healthcare, and many people live below the poverty line with little access to healthcare or even information, the situation if it escalates is going to a nightmare. 

If this doesn’t make you anxious, then good for you. But there are a lot of us out there, who are not wired to accept extreme stressful situations like this very well. 

If you are one of the latter, then this article is for you. I have been struggling with this for a while now, and if I can make just one more person feel less alone, this is worth it. I want to share a few things on my mind, and how to possibly deal with them. 

1. Worrying about loved ones

Anxiety many times has got nothing to do with the person themselves, and largely stems from the fact they want to protect a loved one or control their well being at all costs. This is me on a normal day, now imagine the scenario with Corona flying high! If you have senior people at home with respiratory conditions, or ailments like diabetes, who are vulnerable to this, it is absolutely understandable that you are worried about them. I know and say this from experience, it is very hard to make old people understand the repercussions and the extreme gravity of this situation. They are a generation that does not believe in sitting on their asses comfortably. They believe in moving around and working. Also, they consume a lot less media than we do, given our addiction to social channels, and guess who is less anxious among the two generations. 🙂 So let it be. You gotta do what you gotta do. Give them the warnings anyways, and pray they listen. 

2. Taking over-control of hygiene

If you are obsessing over hand-washing for 20 seconds, and sterilizing every package that arrives and establishing strict protocols for anyone entering your home from outside — You are still not alone. Yes, you are trying to control every little thing just so you know you have done your best. Do not beat yourself up on this. These are challenging times, and not all of us will respond to things the same way. Do what you can, and rest when you need to.

3. Over-working from home

Work from home is not a new concept for many of us. But to have focus and precision on what you want out of your workday requires a calm and steady mind. If you are not there, yet — that is fine too! We are human beings, not machines who can start and shut down regardless of what happens around us. I, for one, find myself overworking, and getting very restless with my goals, to distract myself from my own thoughts. In no way does this help me or my work. What I end up with are a lot of starter projects, because I am not mindful of what I really want as an output. So, that’s me. 

4. Restlessness

This last point is more of an amalgamation and a state of mind, that you may experience, as you go through the above. A general feeling of gloom, and not being able to sit at one place, or focus on anything. Even food may feel tasteless. The entire day may pass and you realize you have not taken a moment’s rest. Not just physically, but also mentally. But you have been working all day, eating, talking, but you don’t remember most of it. Yes, that kind of restlessness is something I can relate to, and I also know it will pass, and I will feel better.

Now, all of this, every single point I have mentioned above, is something I am personally going through, and I just want you to know that you are not alone. I am taking every day as it comes, and feeling grateful for this moment as it is. I am not going to dish out any kind of advice here, but here are some things that seem to help me combat this better.

a) Talking to someone who understands — My younger brother is my rock, and I have been spending at least an hour every day just ranting, and yelling about my anxious state of mind and unleash my peak control freak. He hears me out and tells me he will help with whatever he can. Miraculously I feel better every time after I hang up. Even though the relief is short-lived, it helps me so much. 

b) Thinking beyond— Once I had done everything I could to educate my family, I have been trying to do the same for people who come to work for us- our cook, our maids, and other house-help. It breaks my heart that they do not have the privilege to work from home and Netflix and chill. The least we could do is give them a paid time off (preferably an advance for them to stock up essentials etc.), and ask them to not come for work until it is safe again. Little things. 

c) Cutting off Media — As I say this, I feel a compulsion to check the news every ten mins. Every morning as I wake up to the updated number of corona deaths across the world, the darkness in my head takes up some more space. it is a dangerous and extremely toxic spiral that makes me go crazy and fall into recurring patterns of checking the news and then feeling anxious about it. I am trying to stay off this. It is hard, I am struggling but I am consciously trying. 

d) The magic of creating— Now this is the hardest. But look at me, trying to write with all this chaos in my head. 🙂 Whatever gives you joy, pick that up, and create something with your bare hands. Do it along with your family/spouse, and make some memories out of this time together. Cook, dance, garden, paint, learn a craft. Bring back the good old days of summer vacation.

These have somewhat helped me, and I hope they bring you some solace too.

Are you going through something similar to this or do you know anyone who does? Is there a way you cope with it? Feel free to share. 🙂