During this stressful time, it’s even more important for us to take a breath, refocus, and find gratitude for the little things. It’s hard to remain positive and see the positive through the stress, chaos, and worry. The TV, social media, and newspaper is full of updates on all the negative. Our lives have been turned upside down and our routines destroyed.  Many of us are under stay at home orders. Which means we are under both financial and social strain. We’re separated from family members, friends, and coworkers. Many are working from home and dealing with new technology, home schooling their children, and trying to manage family relationships from afar. It’s an adjustment that will most certainly change our environments and relationships long after things get under control.

My paranoia and negative thought loops have been hard to quiet. If I let them, they will completely paralyze me. I have a hard time focusing on anything but the amplified worry and fear that they sometimes cause. I really have to dig into my bag of coping skills to help maintain some sense of calm.  Building and trying to stick to a routine has helped. I spend Sunday creating and planning our weekly meals and grocery delivery. The detailed meal planning and grocery to do list helps give me a bit of focus on the day to day. I have a loose schedule to follow throughout the day that helps keep my mind off of the news. We’ve recently started to make the transition to a mostly vegan diet and the meal planning also keeps us on track.

With everyone on stay at home orders it’s hard to care about getting up, showering, or even get out of sweatpants during the day. I’m not going anywhere or seeing anyone. Why bother right? The truth is maintaining a routine helps with anxiety relief . I’ve tried to stick to my morning routine especially. It helps me maintain some level of normal and sets the tone for the day.

I have also tried to change a few things that have been aggravating my paranoia and anxiety. Ive found that I need to limit certain forms of technology as that too can be a trigger for anxiety. I have to limit my television time, especially news, and social media time. Social media has never been a good idea for me. I recently deleted Facebook all together. I am still on Twitter but have to limit my time on it. The negativity of social media will affect my mood very quickly. It is awful for my anxiety. I try to pick up a book, do a word search, color, listen to a book on tape, or research some new recipes when I get anxious or bored. Playing games or scrolling through media links just isn’t good for my mood management.

There are some things that I am very grateful for lately. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a healthy family. My support system is amazing and I feel very blessed. Along with my amazing support system, I am most grateful for my pets. No, I’m not a crazy cat lady. But I am crazy about my cats. They seem to know when I am struggling with my bipolar symptoms or dealing with a migraine and offer me a tremendous amount of comfort. They will sit and cuddle on my lap and purr and they keep me entertained with their antics. They always make me feel loved and understood. The cats don’t care about my third day in a row of sweatpants or that my hair is a mess because I can’t get it cut right now. They’re fine with me bursting into tears over a commercial on the tv because I’m in a swing. They don’t judge, and they are always happy to see me. I appreciate that unconditional love when I’m struggling. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are rescuing pets during this extended time at home. I think that’s great for the animals in need. But worry that they will be neglected again when the world starts to get back to normal. Pets are a huge responsibility they’re not for everyone. I think that pets have the potential to bring a great many positive benefits. However, they can also have some negative affects. Animals require care, both physical and financial. If something happens to us and we need to be hospitalized, or we’re away from home, it’s a good idea to have a plan for their care. It’s totally fair to say that I like my animals more than most people. So, it’s important for me to make sure I have plan for their care if I fall ill. I also considered the possible financial implications before I got them. Can I afford their shots and vet bills? Can I afford the weekly/monthly food bills and supplies? Do I have a plan for when I am struggling? Who will care for them if I’m away?  Will I be able to handle the emotional devastation when one dies? I had to weigh the benefits of owning them against any problems that would come up. Not just for my benefit but for theirs too. I am lucky. I have support at home. The positives of owning pets very much outweigh any negatives. I don’t know what I would do without them. 🙂 Stay safe everyone!

Here are some amazing articles on the benefits of pets