COVID-19 and Anxiety: “Who Knew It Only Took a Worldwide Pandemic to Manage Your Anxiety?”

“I’m really surprised how well you’re taking all of this. Who knew it only took a worldwide pandemic to manage your anxiety?”

That’s what my husband told me over dinner on Thursday, March 12, 2020 (otherwise known as the day the world began to stop).

He was teasing, but he was also kind of right. My anxiety was unusually low for a normal day, let alone such a crazy one. And since then, it’s mostly fallen somewhere between low and normal.

I’ve been trying to understand why I, a person who is prone to intense anxiety, has had fairly optimal anxiety levels, even though much of the world is panicking, and for good reason. COVID-19 is a real threat to physical health, economic health, and even life. So why am I not so afraid?

Here are a few possible explanations (in ascending order of seriousness):

1) Not Compensating

I’ve always been anxious about being around crowds, touching, having unwashed hands, sharing germs… you get the picture. Having a newborn during the middle of an aggressive sick season has just exacerbated those anxieties.

Now that everyone else is as concerned as I already am about these things, I can let down my guard just a little bit. I only need to focus on myself; my anxiety can stop compensating for every single other person around me, too!

2) Celebrating the Good

I’m used to managing my anxiety by always having things to look forward to. So when I learned that Corona meant my husband would be doing online school for the rest of the semester, I let myself be excited! My love language is quality time, and I was happy at the prospect that he might be home more than normal.

It’s a really small bright side, compared to the real danger of COVID-19. But this is already how I have learned to cope.

3) Gaining New Perspective

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

I took peace in being granted eyes to see that God was taking care of us temporally. The event of Coronavirus is one of a few life events that seem to be a moment of clear reflection, as if my life is a long hike, with just a few tall ridges along the way that permit me to see just how high up and far I have come.

As poor college students, money has been one of my biggest anxiety-stimulants. I didn’t know how we were going to survive through the end of the semester! I had been worried for weeks (really since finding out I was pregnant) about how we were going to pay the lofty, looming hospital bills for our baby’s birth. Finally, about 6 weeks after she was born and about a week before Corona really struck, we miraculously got everything paid for.

That same week, we unexpectedly came into the money to pay for our housing through the end of the semester, and we learned we were going to receive a good-sized tax return.

One of those very last days of normal life before Corona, I felt like I had a huge wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket! I said, “Matt, why don’t we go pick up dinner tonight?” My wise husband said we could if I really wanted to but gently suggested we save the money for now and avoid impulse buying. I knew he was right, so we made some soup at home instead.

It was just a couple days later that I felt that God had taken me by the hand on my long hike and said “Look what I did for you!,” pointing over the ridge to see the winding path we had taken to come this far. I am grateful that sometimes, God does let me see some of what He’s done for you, and I take comfort in the reminder that I can trust Him to continue to do things for my good.

The hike my husband took me on to propose to me! This was taken just a few minutes before.
(He just had to surprise me by letting me go without makeup!)

4) Finding Peace in the Perspective I Had Long Since Gained

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8

I am so grateful for the perspective I have been granted from learning the Plan of Salvation and gaining an understanding of what Christ has done for me. (“Plan of Salvation“, Gospel Topics) I am confident that my life did not begin at birth, nor will it end at death. I trust that I will see my loved ones again after this life. I have faith in the Resurrection of my own soul.

Sure, Corona may really suck to get, and I definitely would miss any family member who I lost. But of all the things I fear, I do not fear death.

5) Feeling Hope for a World in Sin

“’And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.”

Jesus the Christ

Our world is in great sin. Historically, this has indicated that the Lord sees fit to send challenges meant to humble us and turn us to Him.

I am hopeful more that this disease leads many to humility and repentance through Christ, that they may find eternal happiness now and in the life to come. If anything, in the grand scheme of things, this might be a blessing for mankind and for my own soul.

Most of all, I am excited that this may mean we are just one step closer to the return of the Messiah, the Redeemer, the King of Kings, who will soon come to rule and make right all that is wrong. Finally, everyone will know the truth and joy that comes through Christ.

So How Are You Doing?

Do you feel like you are managing your new or longstanding anxiety in the middle of all this? What things, if anything, are helping you find peace?

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