I am not a psychologist/therapist/councillor. I’m a sufferer. Any advice here is purely from my experience of anxiety and of what works for me. It is not meant to take the place of medication or advice from a medical professional.
I suffer from anxiety. I have done for a long time. So Covid-19 has brought up all manner of fears and worries that I had never even considered before. My focus, what little there is of it, is all over the place. I’m never sure where I should be or what I should be doing for the best. Should I focus on family, or should I volunteer somewhere, or start looking for a REAL JOB to take some of the pressure off? Picking up a crochet hook seems so frivolous in light of the crisis going on!
The truth is, if it helps, do it. If going for a shower and having a good cry helps…do it. If meditation is your thing…go for it. Or if dancing to your favourite tunes works…turn it up to eleven and let loose. The process is all yours and no-one is going to judge you for making yourself better. Crochet is my anxiety busting fairy dust and I’ve been sprinkling that stuff everywhere lately. (From home and practising social distancing of course.)
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
I hear that saying a lot, but what does it really mean? I keep telling myself it’s okay to feel anxious or distracted or down right afraid. Every one of us going through this crazy experience is worrying about something. We deserve the space to have a wobbly day (morning, hour, whatever) and the time to find a way out of it too. We should also recognise that it is not only okay to ask for help it is downright courageous. So, if talking to a friend or family member will help, call them. If that is too much, text, but don’t do nothing. We know from experience, anxiety is a jealous sod and likes to isolate us, don’t be bullied.
Getting Out Of A Fear-Funk
When I feel that scary slide from average worry to out of control anxiety start to tighten it’s grip, I try to use my most basic coping strategies.
Be Kind To Yourself
Sometimes my anxiety is like a frightened child and you don’t calm a frightened child by yelling at it. You listen calmly, you speak quietly and gently but most of all, you listen. Acknowledge the fear, accept it as it is, without judgement (no matter how irrational and over the top it might be) and then deal with those fears one at time.
Write them down if it helps. I like to do that because trying to articulate the problems seems to take the energy/strength out of them, as if giving “it” a name takes it’s power away. Shining a light on the problems shows them for what they really are, shadows…not reality.
Can I Fix It Now?
I also try to ask myself, is this an immediate problem? Can I solve this right NOW? The answer is generally no., but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything!
Like I can’t find a cure for Covid-19 in my yarn cupboard! I can find some yarn and make something pretty or fun or just distracting and stay home to stop the spread of the virus. And the yarn cupboard is way better than the fridge (here there be chocolate dragons). I can’t find a job and pay the mortgage this minute but I can dig out my CV and tidy it up a bit so I’m ready to apply for jobs. I can’t cook a banquet for my family (because they deserve one). But I can open a tin of something and give them a decent meal and promise when this is all over I’ll treat them to something special to say thank you. While I can’t do it all, and it’ll never be perfect, I can do something and that’s good too.
Let me tell you if I didn’t have crochet I would be lost. I’d also be the size of a bus! When I feel myself spiralling I grab some yarn. It doesn’t even need to be a proper project. I can’t tell you the number of stitch swatches I’ve made, trying out new textures, colour combinations and shapes. I’ve been using up all my little odd balls (lol) fiddling with different colours and patterns. Juggling balls filled with rice or lentils (because stuffing alone is too light), headbands and the obligatory face mask or two have all been on my hook during lockdown.
I like little projects that don’t take too long to finish. When I feel like I’ve completed something it gives me a sense of accomplishment, which boosts my self esteem. Then I feel better equipped to deal with whatever new, scary thing is waiting to slither out of my subconscious and mess with my head next.
It’s a case of finding your “thing”, your distraction, your anxiety busting tool kit. It could be exercise, music, reading, singing, housework (perish the thought), Chinese aphrodisiac cooking! Whatever it is, through a process of elimination, you’ll find it. Use that to help run interference, to fill your head and crowd out the anxious thoughts before they can take hold, or worse…breed!
What Are You Doing To Cope?
Lots of my friends seem to be turning to exercise to help with their mental health. Their commitment has been inspirational. Whether it’s running, walking, dancing or yoga, they’ve thrown themselves into self-care. My husband (the Zumba Instructor) has set up online classes and they are proving to be a huge benefit to both him and his amazing classmates. He was finding things tough after being furloughed so Zoom has been his fairy godmother!
Crafting is my go to soul soother. It’s my happy place. Reading is a very close second and I’ve been indulging myself when I need a break and to help me fall asleep. I’ve got a stack of finished books on my bed side table to show for it.
What are you doing to help you cope? If you think it could help someone else share it please (here or elsewhere). You never know, it could reach someone who needs to hear it and help them cope too!
However you are getting through this crisis you have my admiration. We are all fighting our own bogarts, demons and unseen foes on this adventure no matter how easy it may look from the outside.
Stay safe everyone.
Until Next time,
Be productive, be brilliant, be kind.
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