How I overcame my pandemic anxiety

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Graphic by Jia Chen

I didn’t know what to expect in this new decade other than finishing my non-degree courses at UW. However, when the headlines regarding COVID-19 began to spread, anxiety slowly creeped in throughout my studies. It only got worse back in March when my professors announced that UW was deciding on whether or not we would continue our lectures in-person. 

In mid-March, students received news that due to the pandemic lectures would be held online until further notice. And so my anxiety kicked in. I worried about balancing academics with other important tasks, worried about not finishing my assignments on time. Most of the places I usually hang out – such as the Pin-Up Arcade bar – were closed due to the pandemic. 

Initially, I felt lonely and anxious, and spent quite some time hidden in my room. However, I wasn’t communicating or being productive, so my family encouraged me to remain active. 

One of the ways I’ve coped with the pandemic is by working out. 

While it is important that people stay inside to prevent the spread, psychological health is equally important. I started exercising with my younger sister since she encouraged me to work out more due to my weight.

We found multiple intense workout routines online and just picked the ones that we felt we could improve on. In my case, I focused more on both abs and waist. I watched videos on YouTube to see how certain routines should be performed properly. 

At first, I was frustrated about not being able to perform the routine properly and just felt like I should be making more progress. Sometimes, I feel irritated when my body felt sore, too hot, or in pain after working out. Over time, I got used to it and began experiencing the benefits –  reduced anxiety, less boredom, and more energy. 

I like to walk around my neighborhood or the park with my family. We often walk around  Keats Wayand the neighborhood Beachwood in Waterloo. If my family wasn’t available I’d walk with my boyfriend, which comforted me. Walking with someone took my mind off of chores, reduced my anxiety. Even though we’re healthy, we want to be safe from the pandemic.

Sometimes I join my mother and my sister in the kitchen, baking cheesecake and making tamales. I think about cooking and living on my own, spending time with family and friends, through video calls or one day in person.

Every night my family asks me to join them for a movie. Sometimes, my father would ask me to play card games with my mom and sister or sing karaoke. 

As for my boyfriend, we talk to each other on the phone and eventually, I’ll invite him over to my house and watch movies. Being with my family allowed me to feel comfortable and much more sociable with the people I cared for most.

I think about the future and want to start researching my Master’s thesis. When I was finishing a Visual Arts major, I decided to look for Universities that have a master’s degree in film-related courses. Also, I emailed the graduate coordinators and asked them questions about an English master’s degree. 

There’s also the need to work during hard times. 

In my case, I am searching for a job such as being a cashier at a grocery store or an assistant at a pharmacy. While it’s not the best position for my career, I wanted to improve my skills and work experience and most importantly to be productive during the pandemic. By being productive and doing various activities at home with people who are currently living with me, it helped ease my negativity and stress.

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