Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Angelique Cohen: Managing anxiety during coronavirus pandemic

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 8:15 AM

As we try to take care of our physical health during this coronavirus pandemic, let us not forget that we also need to focus on being mentally healthy.

This could be a challenge for those who have mental health issues and disorders as they do not have easy access to their safe spaces for one reason or another. This can be the perfect breeding ground for depression, and with the fears of COVID-19, anxieties could skyrocket.

Angelique Cohen is a mental health advocate who was diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression in her late 20s, and she shared some of her coping mechanisms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cohen explained that as an introvert, being at home is not so bad for her, but the issue comes when she begins to think of why she has to stay at home in the first place.

“Personally, I don’t think that being at home is as difficult for me as it is for others, because I’m by nature an introvert. Hence, considering that I’m normally a homebody, I really don’t have much to adjust to,” explained Cohen. “However, that being said, my issue, mentally, is having the option versus being forced to, and then of course, I think of why I’m being forced to [and] then my mind will naturally start to spiral out of control about all that is happening re COVID-19,” Cohen disclosed.

She said she cannot handle the energy from all the noise about the virus, especially with the possibility of her anxiety exploding. As a result, she has coping mechanisms that help her to stay in control.

• I control the news, even jokes, concerning coronavirus. I control how much I let in as only I know how much I can handle.

• Music is therapy for me. I listen to music and I recite Psalm 23 almost every morning as I find it calming. Also, after an overwhelming day when I need a distraction, Netflix really helps.

• We have to practise social distancing, so I Skype with who is close; it helps to not only engage in conversation, but to also see the person.

• I’m extremely visual, so I visualise my happy places – nature, the river, the beach. I don’t just visualise the water, I see myself in the water, embracing it and taking deep breaths. I see myself hugging the tree and I feel it.

• If someone calls for advice, I try to help as it also helps me.

• No matter how rough things might seem, I remain grateful for my blessings and the blessings to come; gratitude always keeps me grounded.

• I’ve always hated the kitchen; however, this situation has pushed me to cook, and I’m actually enjoying the process.

• Another great distraction and something good overall is exercise – nothing over the top. I do brisk walking with ‘Leslie Sansone’ and you can choose your preferred time limit.

• I find that the longer this quarantine goes for, the harder it gets, so the more creative I have to get with my mind. I can easily slip into a state of depression, so I have to make sure that I speak to myself and let Angelique know that she’s strong enough, and yes, she can! Not only for her, but for others who need her, and that helps.

• I’m gentle with myself and do what I can, when I can. My body knows when it’s nearing, or at, its limit.

Cohen said she is looking forward to the end of the pandemic, noting that this is a positive which helps her to manage her anxiety. As for others who battle the same illness, Cohen says talking or screaming helps. “Do what you need to do to release your anxiety or frustration; just feel and express, and whatever form that comes out in, so be it.”

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com