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Managing Anxiety in Crisis

managing anxiety in crisis

We are all acutely aware of the global pandemic happening right now. This is probably the first time in recorded history that every human being on the planet is dealing with the same issue at the same time. Even in the face of such uncertainty, fear, and separation, there is a strange comfort in knowing we are all in this together.

We literally have to go back to the basics for now. This is not a time for complication. We may have parts of us feeling fear, anger, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, and more. We may also be feeling curiosity, humor, appreciation, compassion, and empathy. 

Our bodies and psyche are responding to shock so to say “self-care is paramount right now” is an understatement. As such, I want to offer up some simple ways to deal with the uncomfortable emotions, and there are a lot of them, that come up during a time of crisis.

These basics apply to everyone: couples, solos, families, RVers, homeowners, young, old, healthy, or compromised. Please apply them according to you and your current life. We can not control what is happening with COVID-19, but we can control how we react and respond to it.

Breathe

I can’t say this enough. Breathing is like watering the garden of our soul. It nourishes and cleanses us. When our body is in pain, we are invited to breathe. Pregnant women are taught Lamaze to decrease pain in birthing. Physical therapists and medical massage therapists encourage us to use our breath to release the tension and pain. 

Emotionally, we need the same thing. Notice where in your body you feel discomfort. Breathe into that space. There are many YouTube videos, iPhone and Android apps that offer daily meditation and breathing exercises. I encourage you to explore them and find a few that interest you.

Daily Routine

No matter how displaced you are right now, create a realistic routine and stick with it. It’ll help you feel in control of your day and keep you on track. This is important with the daily uncertainty of things. 

It is also a good time to review your finances, evaluate your emergency contact lists, give your passwords to someone you trust, check on medical connections, edit/create wills or other legal documents. This is not to incite more anxiety, depression or panic, it is intended to help you feel more in control for how you’d like your personal logistics prepared. You would be doing this at some point anyway, and now you’re home with more time to take inventory of your legal items. 

This is part of life, just like taxes. Try to separate the emotion from it and attempt to feel more productive by taking control of it. Do it in a manageable timeframe. This is purpose over panic. Also, TURN OFF THE NEWS.

Exercise

yoga for stress relief

Yoga, jogging, hiking, walking, whatever works for you, move your body however you can. Walk the dog a little longer. Find exercises online that work best for you. Click here for a calming RV yoga routine created for Escapees by Theresé Julo. 

Exercise is one of the best ways to release stress from the body and the mind. Carve time into that new routine you created to exercise daily. I cannot emphasize exercise enough.

Connection

We are social beings. Each of us needs an individualized amount of connection, and during this time of physical distance it is easy to slip into feelings of isolation and loneliness. We miss physical touch, we miss normal activities like parties, happy hours and gathering with friends. To manage this as best as possible, consider shifting your perspective from isolation to solidarity. 

We are collectively acting for the greater good by protecting one another from this invisible danger. We care enough about others to do what is right, even when it’s hard. This is temporary. This is purpose. 

Within that purpose, stay connected…make daily phone calls, FaceTime, text, Skype, email, Zoom, Marco Polo or other means of connection with loved ones. Share jokes, laughs, happy hours, birthdays, games, whatever makes you smile, share that with others.

Technology is amazing right now. Make sure you use it daily. We all need to interact so please keep in touch with one another. If you realize more than 24 hours has gone by without connecting to another person, reach out to correct that.

Hobbies & Interests

Keep yourself occupied and your brain stimulated. Read a book, do a puzzle, find a YouTube lesson on a topic that interests you. Watch funny movies, journal, take an online class or course, whatever you enjoy that you can do right now, start doing more of it.

Get Outside

sitting outside RV

Even if you just sit outside your RV and feel the sun and air on your skin for a little while, get outside. Notice the color of the sky, the shape of clouds, the direction and temperature of the breeze, the plants or environment around you, the chirping of birds or other sounds of nature. Concentrate on specific things outside you don’t normally take the time to. Notice how your body and mind react to this active form of meditation. Do this daily.

Meditation

If you don’t already, begin a daily meditation. You may not have tried a minute of meditation in your entire life. You may not have a clue on how to begin. That’s perfectly okay. Get online and google meditation for beginners and pick from the hundreds of links that come up. You’ll notice your anxiety begin to drop with practice. It’s truly a game changer.

Caring & Sharing

Sometimes the best way to alleviate anxiety is to help others. How can you help in ways that feels good and safe to you right now? There are so many ways to give back, whether it’s through an organization or in our personal lives. Check online for local or national volunteer opportunities that you can do remotely. 

If you’re healthy and low risk, consider assisting compromised neighbors/friends/strangers with whatever they may need. Make sure, however you help, you take the proper precautions to protect everyone involved to minimize virus exposure. Even just a phone call to someone can brighten their day, helping more than you may realize.

Professional Help

Everyone needs emotional support in their lives. Right now, people may need it more than they ever have. Finding a mental health therapist could be one of the best self care moves you do for yourself. Check with your insurance to see who is in network to provide affordable services. Start calling around and asking questions to find someone who feels like a good fit. Many clinicians have moved to telehealth sessions so it can be totally safe and convenient to start therapy via phone or computer. Your physical and emotional wellbeing is paramount right now.

We are in unprecedented times which feels unpredictable, scary and stressful. To care for ourselves and each other through this is the most loving thing we can do as human beings. No one of us is alone in this.

Ironically, even as physically distant as we are supposed to be from each other, we have never been more united around the globe as we all rally to overcome the same crisis. Be a little more forgiving, a little more gentle, and a little more loving-with each other and ourselves. We are truly all connected like we’ve never been before.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated.  Some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.  

And the people healed.  And…the earth began to heal. 

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.” 

-Kitty O’Meara

Author

Marni Pearlman

Marni Pearlman and her partner Julie Axelson travel full time in their Class A motorhome. They are owned by two rescue dogs, Bungee and Friday who rule the roost. They boondock 95% of the time and enjoy traveling with friends. You can find them perfecting the balance of their complimentary introvert and extrovert traits so that each is happy. Marni is a telehealth psychotherapist and Julie is a remote billing manager. You can follow their travels on IG at marnithewanderingjew as they meander around in their home on wheels

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5 Responses to “Managing Anxiety in Crisis

  • barbara snyder
    2 months ago

    THANKS MARNI!

  • Jodi Pouliot
    2 months ago

    I appreciate the tips, especially reminder to have personal contacts & emergency stuff in order. I have a few contacts, depending on my location.

  • This is great – thank you Marni!

  • Tina Woody
    2 months ago

    Thank you very much for this article. I’m implementing ideas that I hadn’t thought of.
    Stay safe. Hope to meet you both someday along the Rv trails and adventures.

  • This is totally what I needed to hear. I will look into some of your suggestions. I have to unplug the news too, limit time once a day. Mornings. Thank you!!

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