Fear is a usual suspect when we have anxiety. As much as anxiety is deemed a mental thing, it surfaces in many physical ways. Everything from feeling lightheaded and tingles, to having full on chest pain and trouble breathing. And many more symptoms in between the extremes.
I have found my anxiety grow significantly in parallel with the rapidly rising COVID cases in our area. Admittedly, it spiked when I was personally exposed by a client and then my husband, who both tested positive. As I learned more, my anxiety symptoms increased.
At first, I was sure I had it. After all, I live with my husband! I waited a couple of days to test myself, to avoid a premature negative result. By this time, I had given myself a headache worrying. I was quarantining and doing video call after video call. So my throat hurt and my air pod filled ears seemed to be in discomfort too. That and my 365-days-a-year allergies and I definitely had symptoms.
I was truly shocked when the test came back negative. I would have thought it was a false negative, except that all of my symptoms diminished immediately after the results were announced.
As my anxiety dropped, so did my physical symptoms.
My husband is fully recovered, and I never did get COVID from him. I did have my anxiety re-occur and did go back for more tests.
The anxiety was real. I am trying to laugh at myself, but it was not fun. It is scary.
Every day we all have more and more people in our close circles getting COVID. In addition, we have concerns about school starting, new mandates restricting our actions, new economic concerns, and the impact of so much quarantining on everyone.
As I talk to people daily, the majority of the anxiety stems from fear. I have heard and have said some of these things myself:
- What if I am one of the small percentage that has significant lasting health issues from covid?
- What if I have to go to the hospital and can’t get in?
- What if either of these things happens to someone close to me?
- Should I send my kids to school? I hear kids are getting it much more now?
- I have 5 people out in my business right now. I don’t know if I can operate if anyone else gets sick.
- What if business slows down again? How will we get through this time?
- Another year of not traveling, not going anywhere, not living our life. I am worried about getting depressed.
- What if I give it to someone else? And worse, they are in the small percent that gets really sick.
- If I don’t get vaccinated my symptoms may be worse. But I am afraid of the vaccine too.
I am sure you can add to the list. It becomes mind numbing and the closer we are to people who are sick, the more our fears become anxiety and the more our anxiety manifests into physical symptoms.
I am not a doctor, but I am a licensed professional counselor. And because of a lot of testing, I have spoken to many doctors. My advice to myself, and to you, boils down to two main things:
- How to calm my fears and the emotional and physical aspects of worry and anxiety?
- How to protect myself physically as much as possible and still maintain my life?
Calming our Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety cause problems in themselves. On top of the fact that many of us have actually been positive for COVID and the anxiety on top of the symptoms is anything but helpful.
To calm my fears, I do some, or all, of the following:
Meditate and pray on God’s Word regarding fear in the Bible. There are many verses that address fear. Here are a few I have written in my journal.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of sound mind.
Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried or upset, do not be afraid.
I have seen God’s faithfulness in so many of His promises lived out in my life. I take these to heart and claim them. Especially the “sound mind” and the “peace” parts. I know it is in my nature to worry. It is only with God’s promises that I can let go of fear.
I pray these words and ask to claim these promises. God is always faithful.
I stay calm and push away fear easier when I am rested. When I am tired, I get new symptoms. And then start worrying again.
When I am tired, I can’t think straight and am always more emotional. I try to maintain a good sleep routine when life is crazy.
I recognize that having routine gives me a sense of control, and I logically know that I am not really in control, only God is. However, I still believe we should do our part. When I keep a consistent routine, I am more grounded, and I reduce the chaos in my life. It also keeps life more normal in these erratic times.
For me, writing down my fears and concerns is a way of purging them from my heart and mind. It also helps me process what is a real concern vs. a potential concern. I firmly believe that we should not borrow trouble from tomorrow!
I also journal all to God and that keeps me connected to Him, comforted by Him, and I am able to give it to God more tangibly.
Helping to Improve Our Immune System – Physical Health
As far as physically doing what we can do to stay healthy, this is what experts recommend:
- Wear masks and social distance.
- Get vaccinated.
- Bolster your immune system with vitamins such as D3, C, and Zinc.
- Keep healthy sleep habits.
- Keep exercising or moving.
- Eat healthy and don’t drink too much or self-medicate to reduce stress.
The physically healthier we are the better our bodies can fight viruses. (Obviously there are underlying health issues that some may have, and you need to follow your doctor’s specific advice.)
We have enough to deal with in the world today. Adding the anxiety caused from fear only hurts us. It feels like something we can’t control, but we can work on it. We can do the things that help us promote peace and calm in our mind. We can take the actions and precautions that are within our control.
And we can trust in the Lord and pray for the peace that only comes from Him.