Living with Anxiety by Pete Thompson
This is a difficult time for all of us and having to adjust to the measures put in place due to Covid-19 has been challenging. We just want you to know that you are not alone. There are lots of people who are feeling the same way and lots of support available to you if you are struggling. If you feel stressed, anxious or worried, please reach out and let someone know. Even if you just need to chat to someone – there is support available.
Internal Communications Coordinator, Pete Thompson talks about how his experience of living with anxiety and how he has coped while working from home:
“I’ve always been an anxious person, ever since I was a kid. My default setting was always an arbitrary feeling of worry or dread or fear. Through school and my teenage years, it was always what defined me. It wouldn’t matter what it was, it could have been something really small or ‘end of the world’ type stuff, either way it would ricochet through my body and create this debilitating anxiety that would follow me throughout my adolescence and adult life.
What has been so interesting is that during this pandemic, since things have escalated to the point they are at now – lockdown, social distancing and stay home measures – my anxiety has begun to dissipate. Initially, when everything first started happening and fear and panic was in the air and on the news all day, every day; I felt incredibly anxious. I am so naturally attuned to anxiousness that my body just soaks up any peripheral anxiety that is happening around me. As things continued to escalate around the world, that familiar fear-based dread and butterflies came rushing back and took hold. This lasted for days, maybe weeks and I assumed that was just how this was going to be; I’d just be anxious all the time as we hunker down and ride this out.
As things have continued and we’ve all begun to adjust to the new measures in place and grown accustomed to our new daily lives staying home and limiting our interactions; slowly things have felt less frightening and I have felt more at ease and content. Before the lockdown I was feeling increasingly anxious as everything felt out of control, and it was just spiralling and constantly getting worse. Since the lockdown measures have been in place, things feel much more orderly than they have in a while, less chaotic, more manageable and people seem calmer. Its allowed me to switch off from catastrophising everything on a global scale in my mind and just engage with my immediate environment and the community I’m part of.
"I have started to focus on what is in front of me, the things I can change and let go of the things I can’t."
For an anxious person this sense of temporary order and control can be oddly comforting. Now that panic buying and the initial hysteria has mostly subsided, my body has been able to slowly and gently adjust to the situation at hand and I’ve been able to be more pragmatic and productive as I juggle work and my personal life under one roof. I’m currently working from home and since the lockdown I’ve been able to do the things I love a lot more like spend time with my girlfriend, listen to music, go for walks, write, cook and watch movies. Although we’ve lost so much from our ordinary lives, we’ve also gained an unbelievable amount of time to be with our loved ones and ourselves and reflect on the things we’d usually neglect due to the hectic nature of modern life.
By going for daily exercise, or going to the supermarket, these activities provide routine, familiarity and reassurance at a time when these things are difficult to come by. The simple, daily routine we’ve all had to adjust to, stuck at home with only Netflix and spring cleaning to distract us, is actually just what we need to get us through this turbulent time. We need routine, we need repetition, we need certainty. We need to focus on our immediate surroundings and the things we can change – not the things we can’t. And fortunately, that’s exactly what we’re being asked to do.”