How to get by… (and be awesome), pt. 2: dealing with overwhelm and anxiety

April 20, 2020

This post is part of a three-part series for university students written in early April, 2020, when the world was ushered into quarantine and physical isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The moment you try to find out more about the pandemic, you can’t ever seem to be on top of the news. There is conflicting information in the media and social media (obviously) about how serious the situation is and globally there are really diverse approaches to responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

How bad is it? What should we be doing? Is our Government making the right decisions? Is it all a bit over the top? Is it true that Garth, Gemma, Geoff, Gazza and Gertrude (the 5G’s), stitched this whole thing up to keep us at home?

Aside from the info and conspiracy overload many of us have the pressure of uncertainty, induced by closures to workplaces, schools of our kids, the incredible remix of uni study structure to name a few.

The moment we look for answers, we are again met with conflicting advice, 20 emails a day, from the Warehouse, your bank, your dentist, your dentist’s pet dog’s cousin, Tiggles – all espousing their advice on what you should do.

Why is this an issue?

All of this can create a feeling of overwhelm – like I can’t possibly deal with the enormity of this problem. This is also related to powerlessness – like nothing I do could possibly make a dent in this mammoth issue; and anxiety – your body’s natural response to a potential threat.

When these feelings are persistent and/or prominent, they also can have uncool effects on your ability to feel good and function well.

Responding by controlling what you can

One resounding piece of advice for us is to identify the things we are thinking about and distinguish what we can and can’t control. Those things we can’t control are worth only a smidgen of your brainpower.

Instead, you would be using your thoughts more wisely on the small things that you can easily influence.

  1. Realise that we always have the ability to choose how we react
  2. List the many things you are still in control of
  3. Structure is your friend! Keep a routine, sleep and wake at the same time each day
  4. Plan your days – list and schedule a few things that are important to you
  5. Limit the time you spend watching or listening to the news – especially the “doomsday” type of news

Practical tips

  • Sit down with (whoever you live with) and create a weekly and daily outline of your priorities, either the night before, at breakfast – this is especially helpful to do as a household.
  • If other people know what you want to accomplish, it will be easier for them to support you.
  • Use a planner , iCal, Google Calendar, or whatever tools you have to note all your commitments and goals for self-care (like exercise), and when you a dedicating time to them
  • If you are isolating solo, either check-in with a friend online, or share your plan on social media (with whoever you want it to be known)

Continued in Pt.3 | Part 1 link