COVID-19 has really messed with my self care.
At the start of quarantine, I was full of worry. The unknown of quarantine and the virus freaked me out. Over the past four months, my anxiety has ebbed and flowed. Slowly, I believe my stress had been mounting without me really doing much about it. This past weekend I had a major migraine that I believe was brought on by a combination of stress and exhaustion.
I’ve pretty much been non-stop fostering since quarantine started. I started with a Galgo back in March and have fostered almost 15 animals since. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen our newest foster kitten. Little Dude is the cutest thing but he has been full of challenges. He was in bad shape when he came into our home. Little Dude has two parasite, some nerve damage, was anemic, and was covered in fleas and feces. We truly believe he only had days left before he passed.
I was up with him during the nights, checking in on him and spending hours with him. It was hard. Luckily, with lots of TLC, he’s doing so much better now. We love him…like a lot… and he might have a permanent spot with us but we still have so much to learn about his condition. It’s emotional and hard to see them sick and close to dying. I was a ball of anxiety the first few days.
Another thing I’ve taken on is marathon training. While I’m excited to be running the marathon, the stress of training is real. I’m stressed about running in the heat and making sure I keep my body hydrated. I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get out the door and home before it gets too hot. I get anxious before long runs and a recent bout of shin splints has sidelined me from running for a bit. Now with my injury, I worry that I’m falling too far behind in my training and I’ll be unable to run my marathon.
Before the pandemic, if I found myself feeling more anxious or burnt out from rescue work, I knew what would make me feel more centered. I would find a dance class, head to a friend’s house, go out to dinner with my husband, walk dogs at Chicago Animal Care & Control, hang with my animals, or book a vacation. In the midst of a pandemic, those things are no longer accessible to me.
I’ve tried to find new ways to feel grounded and release tension but it hasn’t been easy. Some of the things I tried were completely unsuccessful (cough, puzzles, watercolor, and knitting) but I have also found a few things that have started to work.
I can’t say enough about how much I believe in therapy. Everyone should be able to have a therapist, especially during these challenging times. I’ve been in therapy for eight years now and the journey has been incredible. I started upping the frequency of my sessions in the past few months and it’s been invaluable. If you’re looking for a therapist, you can find one through psychologytoday.com and filter for location, specialty, and insurance type. There is also a list of resources for free therapy. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I go to Next Step Counseling and love it.
Remember that marathon training I described above? Well, it’s sort of a double-edged sword because while it’s stressful, exercise also makes me feel amazing. I love coming back from a run/bike and feeling accomplished. I love seeing how strong my body is and the endorphins are real. The link between depression/anxiety and exercise has been studying frequently and all studies agree there is a positive association. Not only do I get a dose of endorphins, but my mind wanders and I can be mindful during my runs.
Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on my breathing, specifically the 4-7-8 technique. It was recommended to me by my acupuncturist (more on that next) and I found it works pretty well. It can be hard to remember to breathe throughout the day so setting reminders is key.
Okay to be fair, I’ve only done this once during the pandemic but now I can’t wait to go back. I went out of desperation when my migraine was raging. Immediately I felt relief. I’ve heard wonderful things about acupuncture and anxiety so I’m hopeful it will help with that too. (Psst, if you need a recommendation, I go to Erin Battison!) I understand this may not be accessible to everyone but some insurance policies do cover it! If it’s in your budget, check it out.
Taking a break
I am really bad at stepping away from social media and the news. However, after my migraine, I took a mini break and it felt wonderful. The news can been extremely anxiety inducing. While it’s important to stay informed, breaks are equally as important. I stepped away from Instagram for a week and it was wonderful.
I fully recognize my privilege during this pandemic. I still have my finance job, I get to work from home, our house has plenty of space to spread out, and we don’t have any underlying health issues. With all that said, the anxiety that I feel is still real.
If you have anxiety, what are you doing to keep it in check? Let me know in the comments below!
Cambridge – Have you ever seen a more handsome meatball?? This boy is absolutely gorgeous. He is so chill and easygoing in his foster home. He’ll need some more training when it comes to his leash manners but he’s happy to learn! Cambridge came from CACC and is ready for his forever home! Thanks K9 4 Keeps for pulling him!
Photos: Margaret Rajic