Isolation Update

I have a confession to make – I’ve been in isolation way before our government told us to stay home.

I have a problem with winter; It’s my least favourite season. I hate all outdoor activities that come with it, and the cold chills me to my bone. During this time, I tend to retreat in my house and only make it outside if necessary.
It’s only when the weather takes a turn that I find the motivation to get out, and that just so happened to be when COVID-19 became a global pandemic.

I guess you can say that I’ve been in isolation for four months now, and fuck is it lonely.

I don’t generally cuss on this blog, but I feel like it’s warranted here.

Since my last post, I’ve been watching friends and family afar try to make normalcy out of this chaos. I see almost daily posts of different learning activities parents think of for their children, people getting to chores that they planned months (or even years) ago, and a lot of people baking bread. The scramble for productivity makes me feel as if I should be doing more than the roller coaster that I’m currently on.

I have days where I will bake that bread or make hummus, but then the following days, you can find me eating cereal for dinner with the pyjamas that I’ve had on the night before. My introverted self wouldn’t mind this quarantine, but since I’ve been self-isolated for so long, I feel like this is my new normal. Do I like it? I’m not even sure. One thing is for sure in my mind, though; nothing will ever be the same again.

There’s a lot of small things that I miss
I miss being able to walk to my local coffee shop and sit amongst the other writers
I miss going to the park with my daughter, even though I only did it once.
I miss getting in my car and driving to my friends’ house five minutes away just to say ‘hi.’
I miss being able to go to the gym and work out my frustrations.

So much has changed in such a little time, for everyone.
I can only imagine how the extroverts are feeling at a time like this. If this introvert is feeling lost and unsure, then how are THEY feeling? WHO WILL LOOK AFTER THE EXTROVERTS? (Kidding)

Someone asked me last week how my anxiety was during all of this, and I just shrugged to myself. Being in a constant state of fear is my jam – this is my normal state. Now you kind of know what my brain goes through daily. Welcome to the suck.

If you’re feeling like me, it’s only normal. There’s no right or wrong way to live out this quarantine. I’m taking it day by day, knowing that the two-week extension on Ontario’s State of Emergency will most likely be extended once again come April. I would mentally prepare for this.

What I will reiterate, as I always do in this blog, is to communicate with someone on how you’re feeling. Your priority during all of this should be your mental health before you check on someone else’s, and PLEASE do check up on those who need it. One thing that I hated the most before COVID-19 happened was video calls, and now, it seems it’s all I do to keep my daughter connected to her family.  In the end, the people who need you the most will remember what you did or didn’t do during this time.

 

Crisis and Anxiety

I’ve been pretty silent for the last few weeks. It’s hard for me to put into words how our global pandemic has caused distress and flared anxiety in the majority of our population. I’ve been watching online and have seen shortages of toilet paper, hoarding of hand sanitizer and officers standing outside of grocery stores. It’s been one hell of a year this week.

Ontario has made decisions on travel restrictions, lockdowns and closures. We’ve been advised to stay at home for the next two weeks; they’re calling it “social distancing.” As an introvert, I can joke about this situation and mention that I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. In reality, my anxiety hasn’t flared as much as I thought it would. I do plan on staying home in a personal quarantine with my family, not in fear of contracting the COVID-19, but in fear of me potentially becoming a carrier to those who will not be able to fight it off.

I saw a disheartening photo the other day of an older woman doing her shopping with bare shelves. She looked confused, holding an empty bag, and all I could do was cry. We, as a collective, need to think of others in this situation instead of buying rolls of toilet paper that no human can even use within the calendar year. I understand that it can be hard to do when the media is projecting fear on us, but I know deep down that we’re better than this.

One thing that can help anyone with anxiety over what’s going on is to limit your news time. Even though we all want to keep up to date with what is going on, 24-hour-news is a compulsive outlet that will keep feeding on your anxiety. Try limiting your time or going on a mini-hiatus

The best thing to take my mind off of anything is to stay busy. I’ve decided to start my spring cleaning, but you can do it in any other way, like exercising, finishing off those craft projects, etc.

If you find yourself in a worrying state, don’t forget to breathe and practice grounding techniques. You can see examples online or within my blog – but I keep breathing exercises saved on my phone for moments like these.

Don’t google your symptoms. Dr. Google never helped anyone. If you DO feel flu-ish or short of breath, stay at home and call your doctor. They will let you know whether or not to obtain more critical care if needed.

And last but not least, don’t forget that your anxiety is not permanent. I know right now it feels like this will never end, but even in a crisis like this, we need to remember to keep things in perspective.

Mind-Reading

The last thinking trap that I posted about was Jumping to Conclusions (embed) – Now, to delve a little deeper, I would like to talk about mind reading. It’s a sub-section of jumping to conclusions and very popular when reacting to a certain situation.

What is mind-reading? When we assume what others are thinking and feeling without having any evidence to support this idea.

Example: Walking past a group of people who are whispering and laughing, thinking that they’re talking about you.

A mind-reading superpower would be completely beneficial in this instance, so you can confirm if your response to this assumption should be true or not. It’s highly likely that it’s not true, but our minds are funny this way

Since this superpower is non-existent, we need to challenge this thinking trap that we put ourselves into.

Ask yourself these realistic questions:
What evidence do you have that this is what the person/people are thinking?
Have they said this to you, or are you imagining what they might be thinking?

It’s effortless to assume what others might be thinking, but if you don’t investigate your assumptions, you’ll be prone to think negatively with every interaction. Withdrawing from this situation might seem valid, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

In this instance, I’m not saying to go up to this group and demand to know if they were talking about you. My god, that alone is anxiety-inducing in itself! (If you can do this, honestly, KUDOS to you!)
All I’m saying is to think critically in these situations, and don’t jump the gun on what others are thinking or feeling.

BUT if you do somehow gain this superpower, please give it to others with anxiety!

Motherhood: Organized Chaos

Motherhood is weird and also beautiful.

I feel like I’m living smack dab in the middle of ‘always perfect’ and ‘constant struggle’ but also feel like maybe this is just motherhood? (Or Parenthood). I’ve been adjusting, balancing and learning as I go and get easily frustrated when my anxiety breaks down the door without an invitation.

Did you know that hearing phantom baby cries is a thing?

My husband and I both hear it at night when we’re trying to relax, fall asleep; basically, whenever we put her down, we’re on high alert. I can wake up from a dead sleep, jump out of my bed thinking that I hear her crying – when in fact, she is sound asleep. This adrenaline rush surges through my body and falling back asleep is a struggle. The lack of sleep always clouds my better judgement, and I feel sluggish the next day when I’m at her beck and call.

The six-month growing pains on top of teething has shown us a constant cry and sheer frustration on all of our parts. To top it all off, I was going through a medical issue that almost admitted me to the hospital. It was scary, but I was very fortunate to have people on my side, including my best friend who was in town to visit. My mind started to rush with ‘what-ifs,’ the most pertinent one being – what if I suddenly died.  I know, I know – I had no evidence suggesting that I would, but this is where my mind goes when I’m in an anxious state.
When my mother-in-law offered to take her for the night so I could sleep, I jumped at the chance. I slept for 10 hours. Those thoughts seemed silly after I got the rest.

Then I have my great days – where I don’t feel so overwhelmed or in a monotonous schedule. Where it seems like my constant moving and cleaning is ACTUALLY noticed. Watching her grow has been so rewarding on many levels. Every day seems like a new adventure for us both, and I’m already dreading the fact that I’ll have to go back to work in June.

I keep waiting for things to level out, but I don’t think they will. Guess I’ll just welcome this organized chaos and roll with the punches!

There’s an App for that!

It’s hard to ask for help, but luckily in today’s society, there’s an app for that!

Even though I preach of talking to others, its hard to take that first step to open up about what we struggle with. I blog openly about it so others can be inspired to do the same, but if you’re still not brave or bold enough, try some of these apps to help you out!

Please keep in mind that some of these apps do have in-store purchases, so please review them before downloading and using – Make sure you get the app that’s right for you!

CBT Thought Diary
CBT Companion
CBT Nuggets
DBT Coach
Mindshift CBT
Moodpath
Quirk CBT
Sanvello
Woebot
Wysa
Youper

For Mindfulness
Aura
Balance: Meditation
Breathe: Meditation & Sleep
Calm
Headspace
Insight Timer
The Mindfulness App
Mindfulness Coach
#Mindful
Mindfulness with Petit Bambou
Reflectly
Smiling Mind

For Journaling

Daylio Journal
Happy Feed
Moody
Mood App
Mood Panda
Moodwell

Do you have any suggestions to add? Please comment below!

Jumping to Conclusions

When I was younger and didn’t know how to assess my anxiety correctly, I fell into several thinking traps. The biggest one that I had to overcome was jumping to conclusions.

I was an expert at making predictions about what was going to happen with little to no evidence.

After my first panic attack, I remember when my heart was racing that I was going to have a heart attack. Even though I was young and in excellent health, I honestly thought that this was going to happen even though I had no evidence that this was likely to happen. Worse, it happened in front of people, which caused me to think that I was crazy.

Learning to recognize when this was happening and questioning my conclusions was an actual work in progress. It takes a lot of hard work to switch a negative thinking trap, but there are still ways that you can challenge yourself.

The trick is to view your situation objectively and ask realistic questions:
(1) Ask yourself if you have any evidence to suggest that your outcome is likely.
(2) Ask yourself if you DO have any evidence that suggests it might not happen or if another result is more likely.
(3) What are the chances that an unfortunate event is going to happen?
(4) How many times have you thought of this before, and how many times has your outcome come true?

This WILL be a work in progress, and you won’t be able to switch your brain to this thinking immediately. I still find myself in certain situations where I don’t notice my immediate negativity. Often my jumping to conclusions feels justified and real, which is why it could take a while for me to step back and assess the situation. Remember to prioritize asking questions over finding answers!

Anxiety and Parenthood

It’s been 21 weeks since we brought our little one home.

I still remember that first night, how her shrieks wouldn’t stop and her tiny face turning blue. I was exhausted and crying, gliding her swaddled body across my chest, thinking that I was already a terrible mother for not being able to comfort her. In desperation, I woke up my husband at 4 in the morning, handing her over and demanding that I need sleep (I was working off of 3 hours from the night previous). That first night I felt like a failure.

There are days where I still feel like one. Days that I let my worries get the best of me and feel as if I’m robbing myself of moments that could potentially be great. I find myself imagining the worst, having excessive or unrealistic worries about her, and of other topics that directly relate to her (finances, productivity, my relationship with my husband)

I think I let my anxiety consume me because I am now responsible for a tiny human, and sometimes it can be nothing but stressful.

Here are some of the worries that I have:

♦ Worrying about her formula intake, if it’s too little or too much because it varies at her feedings. I know she’s eating enough because her weigh-ins are more than normal, and my doctor keeps calling her perfect.

♦ Worrying about her lack of napping throughout the day, we’re lucky if we get 20-minute intervals, but she still sleeps like the dead and gives us 8-10 hours at night.

♦ Worrying about her bowel movements because sometimes she can skip a day but lets out enormous farts like her mother. (no shame!)

♦ Worrying that she’s not getting enough fresh air even though I try my hardest to take her on walks when I feel able

♦ Worrying at each cry that I’m not giving her what she needs even though I have a handle on her variations

♦ Worrying that I’m not teaching her or entertaining her enough each day even though she shows many advanced skills for her age

♦ Worrying that she’ll somehow stop breathing during the night and waking myself up to check our video monitor. I know that this is highly unlikely, but this runs in the back of my mind a lot.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

When I take a step back and assess my worries, I know that this is normal. Whether or not each mom feels the same way as I do will vary, and I’m not here to compare my anxiety to others, so don’t do the same for yourself either.

The best thing that you can do when you’re in these moments like myself is to talk it out, but if you can’t at the moment there are ways to clear your mind and redirect those vibes

  1. MOVE!

Whatever type of physical activity you can do, do it. Whether it’s walking, dancing, working out or just walking up and down your stairs doing chores, do it. This is a win-win situation; you’re redirecting your thoughts PLUS working out in the process.

  1. Fuel your body right

It’s effortless to forget about yourself when all your time and effort is directed towards a tiny human. Here are three easy things that you can do right now

A) Nap. If you can, squeeze in some shut-eye over doing another chore. Sleep deprivation only makes you more nervous and anxious in the long run

B) Food Intake. Take an hour on Sunday to prepare some healthy snacks or meals for your week, if you can (example: cut up some fruits/veggies to save yourself time) or honestly, buy perfect portioned yogurts, cottage cheese, apple sauce, etc. Taking out the bad carbs will leave you with fewer mood swings and cravings for junk food.

C) Caffeine Intake. If you drink more than two cups of coffee or soda a day, try to cut it down to a reasonable number. I’ve limited my caffeine intake to once a day, and have noticed a considerable difference

  1. F*ck Chores

Don’t let chores or preparing each meal every day become a burden. If you’re too stressed to do it, there is nothing wrong with getting take out/using paper plates or leaving the dishes for another time or day. We can’t always be ‘perfect.’