Anxiety in the time of pandemic: fighting coronavirus with safe exercise, social distancing, and self-compassion

Capturing the anxiety of the moment / Image source: goodhousekeeping.com

Capturing the anxiety of the moment / Image source: goodhousekeeping.com

Anxiety in the time of pandemic:
fighting coronavirus with safe exercise,
social distancing, and self-compassion

The way we manage our lives is changing.

With social distancing in full effect and with the status of how we should manage ourselves changing hourly, this is a difficult time. Add to this general uncertainty about future plans, and COVID-19 can feel like an unstoppable force. We have to think about every move we make, adding extra effort and anxiety to decisions that were once automatic. While those on the front lines fighting the disease are juggling parenting, exposure, and unpredictability, the rest of us are trying to manage the best we can. 

But let’s be honest … this is a crazy time. We try to act as if everything is normal, that we’ve chosen to have a staycation and that we’ve always had the CDC on our list of browser bookmarks. We look at information from around the world and try to filter it down into how it can affect our lives. What does this news report mean? 

Living at times like these is hard. I know that you’ve seen memes about how our grandparents fought in wars and we’ve been asked to sit on the couch, comparing their sacrifice to our daily reality. And yes, that is true. But the fact is that it’s still hard. 

Some of us like change. We can easily manage shifting schedules and we make last-minute plans without thinking twice. But there are many of us out there, myself included, who find change difficult. There’s lots of psychological research tying our ability to cope with change to a stable childhood environment. But there’s also psychological research that aligns one’s inability to embrace change with brain chemistry. So, there’s no right childhood or wrong childhood that explains why you’re anxious. Maybe you can pinpoint an experience and maybe you’re just born with it. 

Anxiety targets everyone in a time like these — both planners and procrastinators are victims. The planners can’t make plans or find comfort in solutions. The procrastinators don’t want to think of the future. No matter who you are, no matter your past coping strategies, no matter your mental health status … you are going to be affected by a world in flux.

But before we all crawl into bed for the next three to six months and abandon hope, there are small acts of self-care and personal kindness that can make things a little easier. Now is not the time to revolutionize your diet and cut calories. It’s time to slow down and make meals. You probably have more time to try out recipes and explore different types of cooking. 

It’s also time to do exercise that you love. While you can feel safe running outside, it’s time to do more fun runs and less high-impact stressful training…unless you love high-impact stressful training. Just like you might turn to comfort food, you can also turn to comfort exercise. 

And it’s also time to embrace self-compassion.You need to acknowledge what you can control and what you can’t. If you need help, ask for it. FaceTime a friend for a good gossip session or just to check in. Refill your prescriptions so you aren’t worried about running out. Subscribe to virtual zoos on instagram to be inundated with cute baby animals.Get off Twitter or Facebook and limit the amount of time you read the news.  

Nobody wins by being “strong” at a time like this, because being strong doesn’t mean shutting down. Instead, it means opening up, admitting vulnerability, and asking for help. 

When treatments go wrong: speak up, it’s your body

Chemotherapy IV bag / Image source: The Independent / Getty Images

Image source: Shutterstock

When treatments go wrong: speak up, it’s your body

Last week, I wrote about IV Therapy. I explained what it is and outlined how it may or may not be helpful to treat chronic or immediate health concerns. I also mentioned that I had recently tried IV Therapy and shared my own thoughts.

What I didn’t describe was my experience at the clinic. It can be difficult separating a treatment from the circumstances surrounding how that treatment was administered. I believe I did my best to be impartial and focus on what I felt were the health benefits of IV Therapy.

Now, separated from the actual cocktail of vitamins and electrolytes, I would like to focus on what actually happened at this clinic. I was attended to by a nurse who did not properly administer the IV drip. While clinics are staffed by certified medical professionals, you have assume that the individual attending to you knows what they are doing.

Well, maybe this was just a bad day or a one-off experience, but my nurse did not get my IV into my vein. Instead, my upper arm filled with fluid. When I asked my nurse if this was normal, I was shrugged off. Eventually, I needed to speak with a different nurse when I was in an increasing amount of pain. And I am not a complainer. I have an extremely high pain tolerance. This nurse realized what was going on, quickly removed the IV from my arm, and re-administered it. Immediately, I could tell that this was done correctly.

For many of us, we know what feels right and what is uncomfortable. We know how our bodies should react and when we are struggling beyond a reasonable expectation.

What can you do if you have an experience that feels more uncomfortable than invigorating? The first thing you must do is tell the person administering the treatment to stop. Although they might think that everything is proceeding according to plan, only you can speak up and explain how you are feeling. Sometimes it can be difficult to advocate for yourself when you are in a vulnerable position. However, speaking up is not making yourself an inconvenience. It not only draws attention to what you are experiencing, but provides the administrator with valuable feedback. Maybe you aren’t the first person who has had this reaction to this therapy. Maybe your own voice will ease the experience for others.

Speaking up, especially in a bodywork or wellness setting, can be awkward or uncomfortable. As the expert of your own body, your experience is more critical than those of the people in charge. You are paying for them and you deserve to be treated properly. This includes being honest and, yes even critical, if the experience is uncomfortable, the setting is unprofessional, or you are not satisfied.

You are the customer — and your words and patronage are your real currency.