• Heather Anne

You are NOT a Failure if You Have COVID Anxiety!


You are NOT a Failure if You Have COVID Anxiety!

Shelter in place. Locking down. Social distancing. Quarantine. COVID. Ventilators. Coronavirus. Pandemic. Essential Workers. School shutdowns. These are words that I never thought would permeate my life or my kids’ lives just a few weeks ago. Never in a million years did I think my doctor would tell me not to do something as simple as grocery shopping because I have asthma and I’m prone to bronchitis. I never thought I would cry, while thanking the guy from Instacart profusely, when he showed up at my door with my groceries, because that man is risking his own safety to make sure my kids and I are fed. I never thought that every Amazon package would make me feel happy and scared at the same time, because we don’t know if that package has the virus on it somewhere. As I write this, I am praying for and worrying over people I know whose lives are affected by COVID -19. I’m praying for a friend whose 28 year old sister was just admitted to the hospital for it, a friend whose wife is in the hospital for it, friends who are at home recovering and cannot get medical care because hospitals in their area are overrun and for the family of someone in my community who lost a wife and mother to COVID a few days ago.

This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.

Needless to say… there are days that I’m dancing with Anxiety and he is a terrible dance partner!


We have lost our certainty. None of us knows when things will go back to normal or what that normal will look like. We have lost the usual coping mechanisms such as going out somewhere fun, visiting family or friends, going to the gym, taking a dance class or seeing a therapist in person.


HUGS! We have lost hugs! I hug all of my friends. I hug my family. I just want to hug people! A friend of mine who is a nurse who works with COVID patients has not hugged her own children in a month because she is afraid of possibly exposing her family.




When we are anxious or depressed, we are told do NOT socially isolate, but now we must socially isolate. This makes people who were doing well spiral and those who did not have it start experiencing anxiety and depression.


Some of us, like me, have also lost people. I am starting to know people who have died of COVID -19 coronavirus and friends of mine are losing people to the virus.


Yes we can wax philosophically or spiritually about what “truly” gives us our security and how we “ought’ and “should,” but the fact is, our lives and our country are crossing a dark chasm and nobody knows where the tunnel ends or what will be on the other side when we come out of the deep.


In the midst of the deep, dark tunnel… you are now supposed to educate your own children at home!


How? How do you be brave, patient, creative, excited, engaged, present, strong and fun for your kids during a pandemic?


I have been pondering, meditating and praying on what to write to help my readers while we walk together through the dark chasm, feeling along the walls for every step because none of us can see the end of the tunnel with the light yet with any real certainty.


It came to me that what we all need right now is VALIDATION.

We all need UNDERSTANDING.

We need PERMISSION to fall apart and not be brave!

We need to know that being human and vulnerable during a pandemic does NOT make us a failure!

Anxiety does not make you a failure!


Well meaning memes being shared on social media make me cringe and wince sometimes. The memes telling you that if you don’t accomplish something great during the pandemic, you must be lacking motivation, discipline or character.


There are days that I can be amazing during the social distancing. I wake up and I get right to it. There are other days that I am hanging on by a thread and forcing myself to slog it out. As I am writing this, today has been one of those days. I am writing to clear my head and stop the whirring.


Some days, during this social isolation, I feel like Rapunzel in the Disney movie Tangled when she first leaves the tower with Flynn Rider. One second she’s crying her eyes out. The next second she’s elated, swinging in circles around a tree from her magical hair. Wheeee!! Then she’s terrified. A minute later, she’s excited! She’s depressed. She’s guilty. Her emotions are everywhere!


On our indoors, quarantined Easter Sunday, I gave myself a pep talk while my kids and I watched movies together. I decided that, despite the announcement that the shelter in place had been extended another month… gasp… sputter….. cough… another… month… I was going to just hunker down and make the most of it, by golly! After all, as much as it sucks having to stay home and not go to Disneyland or you know… roam the aisles of Target absent-mindedly for fun because moms do that when they need a kid break, this was a rare opportunity to be home and get things done! I would not waste the hidden blessings!


I made myself a tidy list of things I would accomplish this week. I had a little before bed meeting with my kids to discuss our Monday action plan.I was determined! I was going to DO this quarantine thing and do it right! I tucked myself into bed, because all of the single people are tucking their own selves in at night and feeling extra single in the quarantine, and I went to sleep ready for my new day in the morning with my new attitude adjustment!


I was asleep for about an hour when my brain decided to do a little Irish jig inside my head. My mind decided that after midnight was the perfect time to crank up those gears and get those wheels whirring! No amount of cute dogs and funny cats on Facebook was a match for my whizzing and whirring mental gears!


I finally fell asleep around 3:30 a.m. and woke up utterly exhausted around 9:00 on Monday. My kids woke up grouchy because they, too, are feeling the isolation stress and they also had trouble sleeping.


Getting a late start stressed us all out because we all had things we wanted to accomplish. The kids did not want to be stuck doing schoolwork late so they were mad that I didn’t wake them up earlier. They were mad that they were tired from not sleeping well. Everyone, except the dogs were at this point, angry.


I wish this was the point in the story where I give you a happy ending, and tell you that I had an epiphany over my afternoon tea and all turned out just fine.


What really happened was I felt anxious all day long. The enormity of isolation hit me hard and I felt like I was climbing the walls. I took my magnesium, which is great for anxiety. Google it! I did my deep breathing. I prayed. I meditated. I walked circles around my backyard. I drank some tea. I had a little bit of chocolate.I exercised. I played music. I threw so many of the tools in my toolbox at the rising anxiety and everything only worked for a little while.


Instead of enjoying my day creating and working like I had planned, I gritted my teeth and forced myself to be productive.


I consider myself cured of anxiety and panic attacks. I say "cured" with a caveat, because the truth is, it’s in remission. During a pandemic, it has reared its ugly head again. I have done YouTube vlogs about how I cured my anxiety using natural means. I am writing a book about it. Yet, even with all of the tools I have in my super sized, jumbo anxiety toolbox, Monday was just plain hard. (At the bottom I added a couple of my YouTube videos to add tools to your toolbox.)


A lot of people suffer from anxiety, and some who did not suffer with it before, have it because of the coronavirus pandemic.


I wish I had an easy "10 Tips!" that make anxiety go away all wrapped up neatly in a box with a bow. I don't because you need way more than ten tips. You need to fill up not just a regular toolbox, but one of those rolling red tool cart thingies they have at the mechanic with all the drawers.


Get out that toolbox and you start throwing darts at the anxiety. Throw every single thing you have in your toolbox to fight it until it subsides. Refuse to let it rule you and don't stop trying things until something works. If your toolbox doesn’t have many tools in it, go get some!


Here is another set of tools for your box. Read my article You Don't Know How Strong You Are... But I Know How Strong You Are


Be RELENTLESS and keep throwing darts at that anxiety until you are able to calm it down.


LET GO of that tidy list and do whatever you can do that day. I told the kids that I was anxious and had trouble sleeping. We had a meeting to make a loose plan for the day and then I had to adjust my tidy list to do less.


FLOAT. Just float. Here we are. This is what’s happening. Right now, in this moment, I’m going to float and let life just be. Sit with the anxiety and let it wash over you for a few minutes.


BREATHE. Always breathe and then breathe some more. Sit in a quiet spot and just breathe.


GET INTO YOUR BODY

Any movement helps. It doesn’t have to be a video or structured workout. Just move. Dance, even if you don’t feel like you’re a good dancer. Just get your body moving.


GIVE YOURSELF and YOUR KIDS GRACE

My expectations change daily and sometimes hourly. In addition to the pandemic and closures, we have a very sick dog on palliative care. We all had problems before the COVID pandemic, and they did not magically disappear when we were put on social distancing. Now all of those emotions are magnified and intensified.


For more about crisis schooling read my article Homeschooling is NOT the Same as Crisis Schooling: advice during coronavirus COVID -19 shut downs


Just take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute if you have to.


This IS a roller coaster.

You are NOT lacking discipline or character if you are not amazing during a pandemic!

You are not a slacker if you feel exhausted from grief, shock and trauma.

This IS a traumatic event the entire world is experiencing at once!

You are not less spiritually enlightened or less faithful if you feel afraid.


I'm gonna say that one again. You are NOT less spiritually enlightened or less faithful if you feel afraid! I have had very religious people beat me over the head with the bible for having anxiety and tell me "God says not to be afraid!" Let me tell you something. Never in the history of being afraid or having anxiety has someone magically felt better because they were shamed into feeling like they were failing God by being afraid! Spend 5 minutes reading Psalms and you'll know that God gets it. He understands.

Hug your kids. Hug your pets, (unless you have a fish. Fishes don’t really like hugs.) Cuddle up with blankies. Don’t worry about school if it’s too much. Your kids will still learn, even if you don't do "school" that day!


Throw darts at your anxiety and find ways to cope. Coping is good. Coping is enough. Coping is success!


I VALIDATE you. It’s okay if you just can’t. If you can’t DO, then cuddle up in blankets and BE.


This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.

Here are a couple of my YouTube videos that might help you.


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