On a good day when everything is running smoothly, I can be a bit on edge. Maybe it’s because I have three teenagers who are pulling me in many different directions as I try to keep them little. Or perhaps there was something that happened in my childhood that causes me to be more wound up about things than some people.
It doesn’t matter though. I’m guessing anxiety runs through my blood. I’ve always been wired that way — worrying about what will happen next — I never remember not feeling like this. I’ve come to realize I have to deal with it as best as I can.
After I had a baby, my anxiety spiked to the point it was almost unmanageable. Having kids means you aren’t just anxious about your life, you are anxious about their life now too.
Adding big life-changing events (even if they are good) into the mix can send people like me into a downward spiral. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming election, and trying to adjust to having kids at home and being cooped up is debilitating. And downright terrifying.
Anxiety wants an answer. Anxiety always wants to know what’s next so it can gain some sense of control. There are times anxiety sends us to such dark places. Right now, there are a lot of people who are struggling with their anxiety and mental health, and we need to come together and check on each other.
Many of us feel a bit helpless these days with all that’s happening in our world. We don’t know what’s going to come our way next, and we feel compelled to do something about it and regain a sense of normalcy.
If you’re wondering what you can do and how you can make a difference to those you love, remember to check on your friends and family who struggle with anxiety. Letting your mind wander can take you down fast, and there are those who don’t have a lot of control over the bad thoughts that come into their mind when times are hard.
It doesn’t have to take up much of your time. A text or phone call could be all that’s needed to keep someone from spiraling further into the depths of their terrifying thoughts. They may tell you they are fine when you first reach out. They may say they don’t need anything, but there’s nothing wrong with pushing a little bit more.
Yesterday as I sat in my car, staring at the raindrops siding down my windshield, I got a call from a friend I’d been texting with earlier in the day. I was venting to her about homeschooling three kids while working at home and trying to manage their emotions over the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first crisis I’ve had to deal with as a single mom, and I’m overwhelmed.
She didn’t even say hello. She skipped right over that and said, “Are you okay?”
Had she simply sent me a text, I would have responded with “I’m fine” and sat there and teared up for the tenth time that day before returning home to my kids and trying to help them with their damn math. But, because I could hear the genuine concern in her voice, I didn’t respond with “fine;” I was honest about my feelings.
Her check-in was all I needed to get a little power over my anxiety. We talked about the things we were thankful for: healthy family, work, being able to run outside, the fact that Spring is coming.
I could feel my anxiety settle a bit as I focused on a few positive things, and escape my thoughts for a few minutes. I was able to handle my day in a way I wouldn’t have been able to had my friend not checked on me.
We are in this together, right? There is so much comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, that there are people who care about you, and they will listen to you.
After hearing from my friend, I was thinking about the people in my life who could use a phone call or a check-in text. I wanted to return the favor.
So, take the time to check in with your anxious friends and family members. If they tell you they are fine and you have a feeling they may not be, ask again. Make sure they know you are there for them to vent to and that their feelings are valid. Remind them to step away from the news for a bit if it feels like it’s making them worse. Remind them to eat. Remind them to sleep. Remind them that their needs matter.
We all react to situations like this in a different way, but there is no doubt that connecting with others is what’s going to get us through all the uncertainty we are currently facing. It won’t cure our anxiety, but it will help us continue to move forward.