In December 2019, I read a few articles about COVID-19 and how it might impact the world. In January 2020, it became official. Hundreds of residents in Wuhan, China had tested positive and we then found out that the spread was global.
My home state in Australia then went into lockdown around March. Most countries did, during this time.
The anxiety and fear within, began to rise.
I already had multiple strategies to manage my symptoms. It just took a little time to implement and get over the shock of what was happening around the world. This is what I did and still do, to maintain my mental health!
Spent quality time with loved ones
So long as the restrictions allowed, I spent time with people I care about. Special occasions, birthdays and holidays. When we had the opportunity, we made sure to take full advantage.
I found a new hobby
I bought a sewing machine and learned some new skills! Now, it has become one of my favourite hobbies. Finding an activity that soothes your nerves and keeps you creative, really helps your state of mind. I felt excited to tackle a new project or to continue finishing an old one! You don’t have to do anything extravagant or expensive. If you’ve always wanted to try something new, why not start today?
I went to therapy
I saw my psychologist a couple times just to check-in and made sure things were going okay. Therapy isn’t just for mental illnesses, it can be helpful to process difficult times, like the pandemic. Everyone can be impacted differently by the same situation.
I stayed up-to-date with information
There were daily updates. I paid close attention to them, as a way to be prepared if more bad news was released. Eventually, I had to take a step back. I was consuming too much information to know what was true and what was fear-mongering or misleading.
I read research articles
In the later part of the year, once the shock and fear wore off, I decided it was time to read up on what we know so far. I was relieved to find that up until now, people like me who have asthma, are not more likely to die from COVID-19. I might have complications because of this chronic condition, but it does not seem to be a life-death situation after contracting the virus. It doesn’t mean I’ll be travelling or risking getting the virus, by any means. I don’t think anyone out there willingly wants to get infected by the flu/cold, let alone COVID-19.
I shared my concerns openly
Whether it was in a professional space or personal space, I voiced my concerns. I didn’t want to bottle it up and pretend everything was OK. We all know that is never healthy. Dialogue about current events and the state of the world helps us process it all. It really is a lot to deal with. Knowing there are people out there who have been stood down, lost their job, lost a loved one is heartbreaking.
I am lucky to say that didn’t happen to me but it doesn’t mean the risk/fear isn’t there. Being honest about our concerns is better than internalising it and suffering in silence.
Don’t fall for fake viral/trendy articles/ads
I’ve seen a bunch of products, memes and articles pop-up in my news feed, claiming to stop the spread of COVID-19. Claims like, “this vitamin will get rid of the infection”, “drinking this juice will stop COVID” and so on were rampant through all of 2020.
As much as we may want a solution, an ad run by a shady company or a re-shared unverified post about lemon water isn’t going to do much. If anything, you’ll lose your money, not receive an actual product and spread misinformation about lemon water.
I learned to focus on what matters
Beginning a new role at my company, I realised that the work we do has a positive impact on the community. I put all my energy into it. It occurred to me that I was spending too much time worrying about external circumstances. It was time to knuckle-down and remember what mattered most. I can only make change where I am. And that is OK.
I am keenly aware that some countries do not have the same freedoms we do, simply because of how fast the virus has spread.
If you are in lockdown or experiencing extreme challenges at home, I encourage you to reach out. Call a friend or loved one. Check on the people you care about.