Alleviating COVID-19 Anxiety for the Chronically Ill
Alleviating COVID-19 anxiety is especially difficult for me because I'm living with a chronic illness, which means I am the weak and immunocompromised who is most vulnerable to COVID-19. Because of this, the trauma that I have endured that has mounted due to a life in medical care and life-threat has been exasperated. Still, I'm doing my best to stay calm.
I was born with a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune illness call Behcet's disease, which means that I'm on immunosuppressants. So when I got pneumonia in December in the midst of a flare, my body couldn't fight it off. I went through three rounds of antibiotics and kept getting sicker. Every day I would deliberate with doctors, trying to determine if I should be hospitalized.
Ultimately, we were avoiding hospitalization because hospitals mean greater risk for further infection. This was not the first time I went through this type of life-threatening situation. It's always fear-inducing. So I take extra measures, even in everyday life, not to get sick. COVID-19 posed some extra challenges to this mission. Because of this, my anxiety surrounding illness and my past medical trauma is all being mucked up.
Make a Game Plan with Loved Ones to Alleviate COVID-19 Anxiety
The first thing that I did to alleviate COVID-19 anxiety when I heard about the fast-spreading nature of coronavirus was head up to my parents' house to spend time with people who know my situation and whom I trust. On my first night home, we sat down together and made a game plan. We agreed to self-isolate, to stay home whenever possible, engage in social distancing at the grocery store and to protect each others' health. Receiving verbal assurance that everyone near me would do their part to reduce my chances of getting sick made me feel less out of control and calmed my nerves.
Start a Mindfulness Practice to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety
For me, chronic illness related anxiety can quickly spiral into panic. To prevent this, I practice mindfulness to cope with COVID-19 anxiety. For a few minutes a day, I take a seat and turn inward. I bring my attention to my breath and the state of my body. Is my heart beating faster than usual? Am I grinding my teeth? I try to notice these things without judgment. After a short mindfulness practice, I often feel better.
Create Structure to Keep COVID-19 Anxiety at Bay
Finally, implementing an at-home schedule to keep COVID-19 anxiety at bay has been key to my sanity. Every day, I eat my meals at the same time, exercise, and head to a designated "workroom" to talk with clients and to write. This helps me to feel normal and grounded, two very helpful components in battling anxiety.
How are you coping with your COVID-19 anxiety? Share your coping strategies in the comments.
Card, M. (2020, March 24). Alleviating COVID-19 Anxiety for the Chronically Ill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2020/3/alleviating-covid-19-anxiety-for-the-chronically-ill
Author: Miranda Card
This is a very interesting time for all of us, to say the least. I think it is wonderful to see how we are turning to the online and digital spaces to support and comfort one another. Your suggestions are spot on and I think ones that all of us can benefit from in one way or another. Game plans are key to have in place, and we can all use some structure to help us navigate these unchartered waters. Thank you for sharing.
I'm glad it was helpful! I agree that seeing everyone supporting one another on online communities has been wonderful. Thank you for reading!