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Mental Health

Anxiety In A Pandemic

I remember the exact moment in March where everything took a turn downhill. It was a few weeks after coming home from college. Driving home from TCNJ I felt confused but slightly excited for this long spell of time to use to my advantage. I originally saw it as an opportunity to work on my creative pursuits and have a bit of a break from the hectic college lifestyle.

On this day I was sitting in my room, blasting my favorite playlist in my headphones, and then it hit me like a freight train. In that moment all I could think was:

“You’re trapped, there is no telling when this will end– or if it will ever end, and you are hopeless”

My body began to react in a way that I had never experienced. My breath was hitching and my heart began to race, I got hot and my body was shaking, it felt as if electricity was shooting through every part of me. I immediately ran downstairs and tried to explain to my family how I felt, but I physically couldn’t form words. I began to tear up, and all I wanted to do was run away as far as I could. In this moment I felt like I didn’t own my body and no longer had control of it.

I forced myself to step outside and sit on one of my lawn chairs. I went through the mental checklist of every coping mechanism that has ever helped me before– breathing techniques, counting to 100 and back down, naming the colors of objects around me, but nothing seemed to work. All my thoughts were moving at a mile a minute and the discomfort was unbearable. I ended up facetiming one of my good friends, and although this wasn’t enough to completely subside this feeling, it made me feel a bit more down to earth.

After sitting outside for an hour, I forced myself to shower (which usually always helps me) and decided to go to sleep early that night. The next morning, I woke up with a clearer head. Sometimes sleep is all you need.

In this pandemic, I have felt like a baby (allow me to explain myself!). When you’re taking care of a baby and it begins to cry, you have to go through a checklist of things that it could possibly need. It’s a bit of a guessing game until you get it right, and the baby’s crying subsides. When I start to feel my anxiety flaring up, I go through a guessing game with myself to see what I need. Sometimes I need to meditate, other times I need to exercise or do yoga, and other times it’s as simple as sitting on the couch and making small talk with my family (writing this article is also a great way to cleanse my thoughts, writing out your feelings!)

If I have learned anything through this pandemic, it is that everyone copes in their own unique way. There is no perfect formula as to how we should be dealing with it. The fact of the matter is, none of us have ever had to experience something like this! Being blindsided by a pandemic was something none of us could’ve predicted, and it’s completely normal to feel down or hopeless sometimes. What we can’t do is let it define and overtake us.

I have had bad days, but I have also had very good ones! I have discovered passions that I otherwise never would’ve had the time or confidence to pursue. If these times have taught me anything, it is that life is too short to dwell or fear what could happen when you make steps towards your dreams.

I will continue to have off days, but I will also continue to have peaceful and positive ones! I see a light at the end of this long, long tunnel.

If you ever feel hopeless, remember that you’re not alone. Everyone has gone through challenges in these times, whether they choose to show it or not.

We will continue to go through challenges after this subsides.

The most important thing we can do is continue to be kind to ourselves and reach out to those we love, or even reconcile with those we have drifted from. Gratitude, and being in the present moment are two values that help me stay grounded.

These values are ones you should never forget in life.

It may not feel like it all the time, but everyday we are adapting and becoming stronger, and that is something to be very, very proud of.

Grace Reynoso is a Junior Communications Major with a Public/Mass Media track. She is originally from Ridgewood, New Jersey and has always been into all things beauty, fashion, and music! Grace also loves creating new looks on her makeup page and writing songs! Follow her on Instagram: @grace.reynoso, her makeup IG @glossbygracie_, and her soundcloud: @urfriendgrace
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