“It’s Chaos, Be Kind:” Managing your anxiety during a pandemic

Luke Brennan, Opinions Editor

2020 has given us no shortage of reasons to be anxious: the coronavirus, wildfires, police brutality and of course, the upcoming election. One of the hardest things for people living with anxiety to accept is the fact that there are going to be situations in life that are out of their control. The important thing to remember is that even if the situation is out of your control, there are steps you can take to reduce your anxiety.

It’s fair to say there are many reasons to be anxious about the coronavirus, whether it’s someone close to you getting infected, or even dying or you getting infected yourself. Although we have learned about precautionary measures we can take to avoid getting infected, there is still the fear that we or someone we care about will be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Here are some helpful tips to manage your anxiety during this pandemic. First, and this might be hard for some of you: GET. OFF. TWITTER. If you’ve been on Twitter even once, you know it is not exactly a positive environment. In fact, studies have shown that it can greatly increase your anxiety, as it is filled with toxic and downright mean content. While I am not suggesting avoiding Twitter entirely, your mental health will benefit tremendously from setting time limits for how long you can be on Twitter on a given day. You can use that time instead to decompress and engage in some stress-relieving activities, whatever those may be. It can be listening to music, reading a book, or simply just talking to friends (not followers). I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but deep-breathing exercises really will help you calm down, especially if you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack. WebMD is a tremendous resource for deep-breathing exercises, as well as stress relief in general.

Of course, none of these options are guaranteed to work, as there is always the chance of anxiety creeping its way into your mind. When you feel anxiety sneaking up on you, here are a few key phrases to say to yourself: “I’ve done well. I don’t have to be perfect. Look how far I’ve come. This will pass. I’ve been through worse.” I understand how overwhelming anxiety can feel, as can many of you, as well as how all of 2020 has almost felt like one big panic attack. However, like the phrase above, it will pass.

By the time you read this, we will be 13 weeks out from the end of 2020. We don’t know what kind of world we will be in by the time Jan. 1, 2021 rolls around, but worrying about what “could happen” accomplishes nothing, I promise you. As my mother often says, “there are a lot of things that could happen, but only one thing that will happen,” and she’s absolutely right. Instead of worrying about things that might happen, concentrate on living in the present and being your best self. As crazy and unpredictable as the world is right now, remember that we’re all in this together, and now more than ever, we should treat each other with respect.

I will leave you with the words of the late true crime author Michelle McNamara: “It’s chaos, be kind.”