‘Isolation Anxiety’ a guest blog by Ruby Wood

Saying that my anxiety is chaotic is an understatement. Sometimes I wake up and it presents itself in the forms of panic attacks and uncontrollable crying. Some days, it’s a silent killer, whispering scary nothings into my brain. At the start of quarantine this was heightened, as the uncertainty of our current climate pushed all my emotions to the surface, with no logical answers to bring peace to my anxiety. I was also extra aware that I wasn’t doing anything productive either, unlike my Instagram followers, I wasn’t learning a new language, creating masterpieces, or sweating out an ab workout. Some days I was struggling just to grab a shower and answer my university emails. 
However, the days have got easier as I have found ways to help keep my anxiety/stress under control. Its important that if you are feeling overwhelmed by your anxiety that you do contact your GP, but I found that during quarantine these are the ways that I’ve been able to keep myself happy and have left me feeling like I’ve glowed up from my inside out!

1) Less Screen Time 
THIS! This is a big one for me because without noticing my time on social media had crept up to hours a day and that was fuelling me with stress. On social media people present the best versions of themselves, thus, can leave you feeling like you don’t compare. Especially during this period of time where everyone is trying to prove to people that they are being productive during lockdown. 
For this reason, I put limits on my phone, so that when I reach my max hours of screen time my phone reminds me that I should do something else. At first, I found myself dismissing this notification so that I can finish watching my cute dog video or keep stalking an old friend. Yet, as I carried on I found that I stopped using certain apps to the point where my screen time for social media apps have reduced significantly and now I spend more time playing online scrabble with my nan that I do scrolling through Facebook! 
This has changed my outlook on my achievements considerably and I treat myself better than I was before. (Plus, reducing my screen time has also reduced my headaches as staring at a screen does hurt after a while!)

2) Doing the things, I WANT to do, when I WANT 
If I wake up today wanting to do a photoshoot with my little sister, then that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps, I’d rather stay in bed all day and watch Netflix (and most likely eat countless packets of crisps) then that’s my plan. Sometimes I want to bake, sometimes I want to go on a run or sometimes I’d rather watch reruns of love island. As long as I don’t let my responsibilities fall behind, I’m happy just doing the things that make me happy rather than the activities that influencers want me to do. To be honest, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to work a job and I have time to myself. So, I just want to do things for me! 

3) Keep in contact with friends (only when you feel up to it)
At the start of lockdown, I found myself facetiming my friends constantly, to the point where I was speaking to them more than I was my own family. And, although I love and care about them all I was finding myself feeling socially exhausted without attending social events. I’ve had to learn to say no to people, sometimes I don’t want to do another pub quiz or drink a bottle of wine over skype. But also, sometimes I do, and I enjoy it more than anything else. Therefore, normalising the word NO helped me keep control of my social times and also allowed me to spend more face to face time with my own family. 

4) Stopping looking at the news every four seconds 
As an aspiring journalist, I’ve found the media during the current pandemic remarkably interesting. Therefore, I’ve been reading countless opinion pieces and articles to further educate myself. As much I enjoy this, I’ve also found that checking the news every four seconds has done more damage than good. There is so much media coverage that it’s difficult to keep up with it all, and some of the stories just made me stress, despite it just being vague. Therefore, I have limited the time I spend watching and reading the news, in a way that I stay informed, but I also don’t let in consume me. This may not work for everyone, but it helped me stay focused on my own life and has reduced my anxiety when it comes to the pandemic itself.

5) Don’t be afraid to talk about it 
Whenever you feel ready, talk about how you feel. Whether that’s to a doctor, a friend, a helpline, a family member etc. It helps to know that your feelings are valid and that it’s all very normal to have feelings of anxiety (even if you have never had them before). My messages are always open to people and I’m sure so many others are ready to talk. 

HELPLINE AND FURTHER HELP: 
Anxiety UK
03444 775 774 (helpline) 
07537 416 905 (text)
anxietyuk.org.uk
Advice and support for people living with anxiety.