Pandemic living has been challenging for us all. Add in the rest of the story and we are challenged in ways we couldn’t dream of until this past year. Many of us are having a really hard time, unless of course, you read or watch stories about the zombie apocalypse. Apparently watching and reading about apocalyptic futures prepares one for the present times. Who knew that this guilty pleasure could be good for you?
That could be why I am having more anxiety, especially in my dreams, since I am not big on watching horror shows or reading about the zombie apocalypse. Unless, of course, it involves Jane Austen and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.
Between, the insurrection last week, worries about more violence at state capitols the next few days, and the new fast spreading SARS-CoV-2 variant that has arrived, coupled with slow vaccine rollout and ongoing resistance to mask wearing, and worrying about QAnon which turns out to be our form of brain eating zombies, my anxiety has skyrocketed. I have learned over the past 30 years to turn my mind off when I start worrying about my patients too much. Most of the time I am successful and can keep it contained. Sometimes I fail miserably. The worry bubbles up, despite knowing that often there is not much to be done. Lately, I am using all of my self care techniques and still having the underlying angst interfering with sleep and increasing my stress.
I know I am not alone. Many others are struggling too. Pandemic loneliness and isolation are not helping. The recent unrest and bad news from DC add to the challenges. The New York Times has a helpful article about dealing with loneliness in the New Year and how to help. The ideas can help ourselves, as well as help our friends and loved ones. Reaching out now is more important than ever with regularly scheduled zoom meetings, video chats, and socially distanced walks.
Getting outdoors does wonders. Lots of data support this. A walk in the woods or park can especially help people who are stuck inside working from home. I have really noticed relief when Jamie and I get away for even just an overnight away in a State Park in the van. Hearing owls soothes the soul.
But if you can’t get outside or you have other issues, on-line interventions help disabling worry too, like this study from Sweden shows. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be really helpful in reframing the anxiety. Options exist such as these links which can help you find resources. It is possible to retrain your brain. It is more plastic and shapeable than we have assumed. Meditation helps as well.
We can also find some wonderful sites on-line like this story from the New York Times or check out the wonderful and short daily videos from Nature 365. Stunning and a reminder of the glory of nature and what a small part we each play.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, enjoy beauty and survive the apocalypse.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.