Don't let anxiety define who you are

In these uncertain times, how are we supposed to nurture our own wellness and look forward? Here are a few simple things I do to stay on track.

Sometimes you just need a good coffee routine. (photo: Pxhere.com)

Would it help to know that I struggled with writing this article? It’s been on my to-do list for a couple of weeks now. We’re all currently in a moment of uncertainty and, as my therapist likes to say, uncertainty is another word for anxiety. I have struggled with my self-care this month. I believe in honesty when sharing my experiences because I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one experiencing this.

It’s hard to maintain coping strategies in the face of the world as it is today, with so many variables and unknown futures. How do we choose ourselves in the midst of all of these transitions, adjustments, and changes? How do we show up for ourselves in environments of uncertainty?

Yes, it’s been a struggle for me to show up for myself but here are some of the techniques I use to help get me back on track to wellness. Remember, it’s one step at a time and every step forward is something to celebrate.

 

Create a moment of certainty

Every morning I wake up, I feed my cat, I pour water into my comfort water bottle and I make my coffee. Making coffee is a ritual I cherish. I have my favourite mugs. I keep a variety of coffee cream in my fridge. I use a packet for a caramel latte and, while the water brews my coffee, I froth my coffee cream sometimes with added caramel or mint syrups. I love pouring the foam into my coffee.

I take my medications with my water at my spot on the couch. I’ll watch a calming YouTuber and I’ll mindfully drink my coffee. My only plan for the 20 minutes it takes to drink my coffee is to drink my coffee.

I do this every morning—it’s 20 minutes to myself to breathe in the fresh air coming in the window, listen to the birds chirping, feel my blanket wrapped around my waist, and drink a coffee I made specially for myself. For 20 minutes every day I take care of myself.

 

Meet myself where I am

My therapist once explained to me that every day is not the same, I am not the same every day and, especially with my fibromyalgia diagnosis, I rarely wake up at 100%. I’m learning to take account of where I am—if I’m at 60% for the day, then that dictates the work I choose to prioritize and what I can expect from myself for that day.

Pushing myself to work as if I am at 90% when I’m actually at 60% only results in feeling 30% the next day. If I meet myself at 60% maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow at 75%. Know your limits, pay attention to your body when it tells you to rest.

 

Realize and admit when I need more help

I’ve gone almost eight months on my own without needing my therapist. I did a great job, but it got to a point where I realized I needed more then I could give myself. I’ve gone back to seeing my therapist and it’s helping.

It doesn’t have to be therapy, though. If you find yourself feeling alone and overwhelmed, reach out! To a friend, to family, supports on campus, and even us at Peer Support! Come to our office hours to chat and get some support. We all need extra assistance at some point in our lives—maybe this is your moment.

I hope this can be helpful or at least provide you with some comfort that you’re not the only one struggling. Self-care can be hard, but it’s always worthwhile—you’re always deserving of taking care of yourself.

These moments of uncertainty are challenging, and it’s very valid to feel overwhelmed or anxious in these moments, but they will pass. What can we do to show up for ourselves as we are today?


If you need support from peers or professionals, Dal has plenty of mental health resources that you can access at any time. Find them all at dal.ca/mentalhealth.