Dealing with Anxiety When You're Sick
Not long ago, my therapist asked me to think about my anxiety triggers. I thought about the multiple triggers that lead me to feel anxious, and I realized that one of them is illness, whether it is my own or that of someone I care about.
A couple of years ago, at the height of the pandemic, I contracted COVID-19. This was before the vaccines and during the time that hospitalizations were high. Also, there was a lot less known about the virus, and so, when I became ill, it was very scary for me. Naturally, as someone who deals with chronic anxiety, I became very anxious, so much so that I also had panic attacks while I was sick.
Reflecting on when this happened, I realize that a lot of the anxiety I was dealing with was from this perceived lack of control I had over the situation. Because there were so many uncertainties at the time, I recall feeling terrified that I did not know what would happen next. I thrive on having a routine and following a specific schedule. When I was sick with COVID-19, I found that I was unable to follow my regular routine. Because of this, I felt like I was in the middle of this chaotic situation, and I couldn't quite grasp something that could keep me grounded.
How I Deal with Anxiety and Illness
This experience made something clear to me -- when a loved one or I am very sick, it is a major trigger for my anxiety. As a result, it is something I need to be prepared to cope with. Whenever I feel as though things are out of my control, I tend to feel anxious. Other than trying to take steps to prevent illness, being sick is simply something that we don't have control over in our bodies. And so, this loss of control is something that makes me extremely anxious.
Being sick is already difficult enough to deal with, but when you also deal with anxiety on top of illness, it becomes even more challenging. What's worse is that because anxiety makes it difficult for you to relax, and rest is critical when you are sick, anxiety isn't conducive to healing.
In order to deal with this, I identify what I do have control over and what I don't. I remind myself that illness is not something that you can control, and so I try to focus on what I am able to control. I try to use mindfulness techniques and stay present in the moment. I also try to deal with one day at a time instead of worrying about the next. Lastly, I lean on my support system. Sometimes vocalizing my fears and worries is what I need to do to help me feel better.
What strategies do you use to cope with your anxiety when it is related to sickness? Share anything you do that helps in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, July 19). Dealing with Anxiety When You're Sick, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/7/dealing-with-anxiety-when-youre-sick