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This is the story of Girija, a 31-year-old girl working in an IT company in Mumbai. She decided to get married to Varun, a 34-year-old techie from her company. They got engaged in April 2020 with the masks on and following social distancing and sanitization norms with their close family members. Their wedding was planned in May 2020 but, since both of them wanted a grand wedding, they postponed the date in November 2020; which could not happen because Varun’s mother tested COVID positive 7 days before the wedding date. Later, they shifted the date to April 2021 hoping that everything would get back to normal by then. But Suddenly, cases in India, especially Maharashtra started increasing and Maharashtra and few other states again went into lockdown and the government put up the restriction on the number of people and the wedding duration. But, this time, they decided to get married by following all the rules put forth by government. So, they did a small wedding again with masks on and with only close family members. She had imagined “the perfect wedding” which could not happen. This affected Girija a lot. She started thinking that “This always happens with me.”; “What if this situation never gets better?”; “Nobody wants me to be happy” etc. She started getting anxious over small things, getting irritated easily, overthinking the situation and started having fights with her family members, partner, friends and colleagues.
Anxiety is a reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. Thinking about the past and future causes anxiety in an individual. COVID has made both, present and future blur. Increasing cases of COVID-19 are causing negative feelings, which might lead to anxiety and stress in an individual.
WHY DO WE FACE COVID ANXIETY?
- Uncertainty – The pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Everyone has a lot of uncertainty in their personal, professional, and educational life. Also, we are not sure about getting the appropriate medical help and information. We are facing it in almost every aspect of life, may it be the duration of the lockdown or the work from home scenario, regarding exams or reopening of schools and whatnot.
- Media bombarding – Do you ever wish to say STOP to all the media platforms providing news? How does all the news such as raising COVID cases, people not getting oxygen beds make you feel? Being aware of news to some extent is fine, but, overuse of any platform to get information about what’s going on around us can be the main reason for overthinking.
- The COVID talk – No matter where you go or with whom you are talking, making COVID the center of every conversation can make you constantly think about it, which can create anxiety in an individual.
We might feel that, isn’t it obvious to feel anxious? Yes, it is natural! But, you can manage this anxiety by applying few techniques to yourself. Let’s see a few of those techniques –
1) Stay well informed
- Make sure you stick to trustworthy sources for any news.
- Limit how often you check for updates. Set up a specific time frame for yourself. E.g. – “I will watch news only for 30 minutes each evening at 6 pm.”
- Stay away from media if you feel overwhelmed.
- Ask the person you trust to share only the important updates if you are unable to check them with the verified resource.
- Be careful while sharing the information with others. Verify any news before passing it on. Avoid spreading any rumors and create unnecessary panic.
2) Focus on things you can control –
- Write down your fears and worries and check whether they are rational. Work on them if you think they are irrational.
- Concentrate only on things you can change.
- Get away from the negative spiral of ‘what-if?’. Focus on the present. Do not let your mind distract you with thoughts about the future.
3) Stay connected –
- Stay in touch with your loved ones. Take a step forward to stay virtually connected.
- Be mindful about what you’re talking about with others. Don’t let COVID dominate your every conversation.
- Help others by donating money, food, or do some social service if possible. It can give you a sense of being there with and for people.
4) Take care of your body and mind –
- Be kind to yourself and keep your health in check. Do physical exercise and maintain a balanced diet.
- Take time out for activities that you enjoy.
- Practice relaxation or deep breathing exercises.
- Take professional’s help if needed in distress. Do not hesitate to ask for it.
- Emotions are contagious, so be wise about who you turn to for support.
- Express gratitude towards your physical and mental health.
When you face anxiety, it is important is to acknowledge it and taking the right steps to reduce it. Be aware of what your body and mind tell you and seek support wherever needed.
Let’s take a step forward and be aware of how to deal with this COVID devil.