Anxiety & Grief & Coping

As far as I know, we can still hug trees.

Yesterday I read this piece on the BBC’s website:

Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health

Many of you might need this advice right now. I know I'm struggling with my mental health at the moment, and it's bringing me back to the acute grief just after my father's suicide two years ago.

Back then, every single morning for the first few weeks after his death, I woke up and for one perfect second everything was all right. My eyes opened. The sun was shining. I felt good. Then I remembered everything that had just happened, everything I'd had to do, and I'd immediately feel sick and panicked and that feeling would last the rest of the day.

This is how I'm feeling now. I wake up and feel good for roughly a minute. Then I remember, and then I can't breathe. This difficulty breathing is one of the symptoms of coronavirus, which only feeds my anxiety more and exacerbates the problem. I keep reminding myself that I can breathe when I first wake up; it's only when I start to ruminate and panic that my breathing is affected. (That, and allergies; I am eagerly awaiting the drop in pollen count due to arrive on Friday.)

It is important to stay informed and to share that information with other people, but not at the expense of your health, and your emotional wellbeing and stress levels play a big part in your overall health.

I have PTSD, depression, and severe anxiety linked to my obsessive-compulsive disorder. These tips are useful to everyone, but they are especially useful to those of us with underlying mental health issues. Please find a way to take care of yourselves.

What I'm doing: carving out a dedicated space for meditation and ritual practice, things that make me feel like I am placing my thoughts and energy toward the things I can actually do and focus on, not the endless unknowns. I haven't made this as much of a priority recently as I have in the past, and I sorely need to.

Instead of waking up and immediately grabbing the phone to find out the latest news, I'm going to start my days with journaling and meditation. I will probably also set specific times for checking social media. Mediating my use of social media has been an ongoing struggle for me for years, but this might be the moment when that becomes truly necessary.

Going for walks is also on my emotional health plan! As far as I know, we can still hug trees.

If you're doing anything different to ease your mental and emotional strain right now, feel free to talk about it and share tips in the comments!