Overcoming Anxiety in the pandemic times!!

The past year has been a tough journey for all of us. It has taught us many lessons that are going to stay with us for the whole of our lives. Thus, DelveInsight has decided to take you all on a ride full of experiences – some bitter and some sweet – yet with the power to impact lives positively and assure everyone that “We’re all in this together!”

So, Let’s hear from our COO.

Last year has been so full of stress and anxiety for most of us in some or the other way. I realized the depth of the situation more when I connected virtually with all of my employees on a one-to-one basis where we could not just hear each other voices after so long, but also could feel each other’s emotions. Few were freshers who joined during the pandemic, few who attended the office in person for a few months, and our dear old folks.

Each one seemed to be waiting for this doomsday scenario to end. For most of them, someone in their immediate family, or they appeared to be anxious. And the prolonged situation, without a doubt, made it worse for many. However, connecting helped all of us in more than one way. We could feel that we are not alone, there are similar people out there going through the same and were willing to lend an ear, and extend a helping hand to those who needed it. 

Honestly, this unprecedented situation taught us several things. Now that I turn back and think of it, there is so much to talk on mental health, anxiety and depression. Here, I would take this opportunity to pen down my journey through the situation and share my learnings with you. 

Even though I could not just stop writing about it, still I have tried to keep it crisp and relatable so that I could connect with you. While writing, my intent was to share the information, but my purpose was also to connect with you emotionally.

Just like we can feel happiness, sadness, anger, and anguish. Similarly, anxiety is also a feeling. All of us go through it at one point or another, and it is perfectly normal to feel it. For instance, let us talk about stage-fright. Howsoever well prepared we might be, just before going on the stage and facing the audience, we all feel a bit of nervousness, don’t we?

Similarly, let us rewind to our good old school days. Before a day of any exam, we all feared results. Talking about current times, what about heebie-jeebies that we feel while talking to managers regarding appraisals. By now, I am pretty sure directly, you can relate to what exactly I am trying to say.

So, friends, what exactly is anxiety? Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body. Or you may have nightmares or panic attacks. And sometimes, painful thoughts or memories resurface that may be beyond your control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event. If I talk about myself, I hesitate to use the lift, flight or be in any closed space. Symptoms of general anxiety may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep

Because, ultimately, prolonged anxiety can lead a sane person to experience depression. Knowing anxiety the way I do, I know that we need to work on it. Whosoever can deal with it emerges as a winner, others struggle. Those who struggle, all of their wisdom or intellect fail to help them.

Putting it scientifically, we have two kinds of the nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for intense physical activity and is often referred to as the fight-or-flight response. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system has almost the exact opposite effect and relaxes the body and inhibits or slows down many high energy functions.

No doubt both are very much required for our existence, but just imagine if all the time, we start gearing up our nervous system? What would happen to our body? Imagine a car is given the amount of petrol needed to reach Chennai from Delhi and it moves just fine if handled with the right gear, functional brakes and accurate acceleration, as required. If we start rushing it by accelerating unnecessarily on the top-most gear – the one which is meant to pull through the steeps, what would happen then? We would finish our fuel halfway through our journey. 

Same happens with our lives. People in early days were calm, peaceful and much contented with what they had; therefore, they did not worry much about anything. They used to remain on their parasympathetic infrastructure, contrary to what happens today when most of us run on sympathetic most of the time, exhausting our energy much too soon. So, friends, activate your sympathetic nervous system for a war-like situation to fight emergency, because do remember your body in that mode cut supplies to all other vital organ and sends its resources more to heart and muscles to fight that situation. Also, do not forget to switch off the machine when the need is over.

Anxiety is the result of worry. Often, we cannot identify the actual reason behind it; however, identifying the cause is as important as addressing the issue itself. Suppose you are not well or tired, you would feel the pain somewhere in the body, you would take proper medicine/rest for that. Similarly, have you ever thought, that if our mind or brain is not feeling that well, how would it notify you?

Yes, it sends apparent signals in sadness, mood swings, and anxiety; we need to pick them fast before it gets more difficult for us. Stop everything and first work on maintaining your mind, because it is the boss of your body and believe me, our mind is just like a small child who also needs a break from the daily stressful, mundane routine. 

Do what you love, sing out loud, listen to some lovely music, chill with friends, meditate, do whatever you love to. It is imperative. Our positivity can help us overcome anxiety very well. This is why we are told to develop hobbies. Hobbies are something where we tend to forget about, but we need to pick them up along with the rest of the things and spend time on what we love, and that brings us back to our real self, which is meant to be cheerful, happy and relaxed.

So, guys, it is OK to be NOT OK. But unfortunately, many of us do not understand this language. Some feel confused, or to be precise, shy about it. Few are not comfortable talking about it to anyone. If we immediately seek medical attention for physical ailments, then why not for emotional/mental stress? Instead, this is more important. It is a massive taboo in a society that needs serious attention. It is high time we start to talk about it.

I will dig deeper into my case. My claustrophobia was well handled by a psychologist. I was able to travel several countries, and each was a separate win for me, travelling for so long in flights, encouraged by my partner who supported me at each level and celebrated all of my small and big wins. 

What I am trying to say is, situations change if we learn to do something about it. If we do not, then our sufferings will continue to pile up. We need to find ways to overcome it.

Now you ask, how? Right? Build a strong network of friends and family, love them unconditionally, strengthen the bond, and the happiness you get in return would not be more comfortable to explain. 

Okay! Stretch your muscles now for a small activity. List down the names of at least 3 people whom you could connect and open your heart without thinking twice at any hour of the day, could share your lows, your weaknesses, in short, you can be your true self.

Keep it in your front-most drawer, and during an emotional emergency, take a look, you are the luckiest if you have even one. Just pour your heart out. If you don’t have any name, for now, become one.

There is sometimes a loop of thoughts which becomes difficult to break.

Few rules to be followed which, I have learnt with experience:

  • Learn to pick the signals your mind sends.
  • Check whether you are running on sympathetic or parasympathetic. For immediate relief, control your breaths because that is the one which gets disturbed first. It gets faster when you are anxious. Close your eyes, sit at a peaceful place, try to slow down its pace for 5 minutes and experience the result.
  • Identify the activity which soothes you, relaxes you. Switch to that when you need. It can be anything… stitching, painting, singing, yoga, dancing… the list is endless.
  • It’s never too late to develop a hobby, which is the best escape route from mundane life.
  • Identify the people with whom you are close, invest in building rich relationships. When I say rich, friends are the richness we all should strive for with all our might. If you have even one who understands you truly, who can listen to you tirelessly, with whom you can be yourself, you have won the world. Talk your heart out, do not give it a thought, express your genuine emotions, and not hesitate.
  • It’s perfectly ok not to be okay, seek medical help if needed, take medicine if advised, shake off the taboo, life is far more precious than these petty things, enjoy it, live it to the fullest.
  • Follow a healthy routine, it elevates the mood. Inculcating the habit to exercise releases endorphin – the happiness hormone- which helps our mind reduce stress.
  • Take a break without applying logic, have fun, this is only one life that we have got. Be yourself.
  • Meditation is one of the most helpful tools, just imbibe it within. Your subconscious mind can do wonders, just keep repeating and reminding it that you are a beautiful soul, powerful soul and perfectly fine. What we say, we ultimately become. Sit quietly by yourself for at least 10 minutes. I am not a meditation expert, just have begun but felt the wonders.
  • Last but not least, become a true friend of someone as you wish for yourself, you never know you might be his/her only trustworthy friend. Believe me, happiness doubles when spread.

That’s all my friend, I won’t say thank you, instead I would express my gratitude for giving your precious time to read, which at the first place empowered me to express myself. 

Signing off.
Preeti Agrawal

Our COO, Preeti Agrawal, is a market research consultant with around 16 years of experience. She is a science graduate and has done her masters in computer application. Prior to joining DelveInsight, she worked with Toluna (GreenField), Kadence, and Internationallinx. She was actively engaged in client interaction, handling client queries, providing them with feasible solutions & building healthy relationships thereby achieving high customer satisfaction. She has mastered the art of maintaining relationships with customers to achieve repeat/referral business.