How Anxiety Pushed Me to Find Community in a Pandemic
Is it sweaty palms and perspiration on your brow no matter the weather? What about a pit in your stomach that craves to be filled? How about that tightness in your chest from a rapid heartbeat or labored breathing? My anxiety takes shape in many physical forms. What does your anxiety look like?
Anxiety Consumes as Pandemic Looms
I have struggled with getting my anxiety under control for years. Like a fighter jet locked onto their target, my anxiety shoots straight for the heart. Breathing becomes shallow and fast while my mind races from lack of oxygen and fear. This is closely followed by sweaty palms. A subtle pain in my stomach ends the battle.
We are six months into a pandemic that has caused us to isolate and distance ourselves from those who keep us connected and grounded. When I feel anxious, my first response was always to take myself out of my current environment and get outside. I mixed and mingled with my community to lighten the burden of worry and racing thoughts.
Lockdown With Anxiety
This lockdown has taken away my, and maybe some of your, usual ways of connecting with the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc.) community. We can no longer mingle at a bar, drink coffee at a bookstore, share stories in a group at our local pride center, or connect for events like concerts or sports. Our LGBTQIA+ community was ground down and molded into something new and virtual quicker than my psyche could keep up at times.
Between isolation and lack of community, I have felt anxiety creep in more often. With many outlets for releasing this unwanted pressure closed or inaccessible, I felt hopeless at times.The added pressure I place upon myself for feeling more anxious was not helpful either. During this lockdown period, have you been your own worst critics sometimes?
LGBTQIA+ Community Connections For The Win
This carried on until I gave myself a proverbial break. I allowed myself to feel the weight of the world as it transformed. I no longer ran from the different ways of life, I embraced it. I allowed myself to feel the emotions surrounding this unprecedented time in history. This gave my anxiety less fuel to feed off.
I also began getting creative in the way I searched for my community. I made more phone calls and text message efforts to friends and acquaintances in my LGBTQIA+ community. I searched out online Zoom meetings relating to LGBTQIA+ interests. Small steps of reaching out ignited in me the passion for connection again.
What does your anxiety look like? What creative ways have you found to connect with your community? Leave your thoughts and comments in the box below. One individual’s skill mastery could be another first day on the job with it.
Next week, I will be demonstrating a short meditation technique called a body scan. Come back next Monday to learn how to use this valuable meditation when anxiety rears its ugly head.