How I Am Managing My Anxiety During These Uncertain Times

How I Am Managing My Anxiety During These Uncertain Times

For all my life, I have prided myself in being very positive, optimistic, and full of joy. I always have a smile and a hug for everyone and I love to have fun and laugh. I never showed any weakness or asked for help when I needed it because I thought that was what being strong was all about.

I also never really learned how to feel and process my emotions or learn to be vulnerable. No matter how I was feeling inside, I kept a bright, smiling facade that I always showed the world. I kept myself so busy, jam-packing my schedule with work, meetings, projects, events, dinners, nights out, parties, and dates. I surrounded myself with people and had no time to really listen to myself and know how I truly feel.

During the past year, because of the drastic changes that have occurred in my life, I decided to start seriously working on myself: finding out what I want on my own, what gives me joy, what I want to cut out of my life, what I like, how to be vulnerable, how I want my life to unfold, where I see myself in the future, and the impact that I want to leave on the world.

Then COVID hit.

The thought that I was going to be isolated and alone was terrifying for someone who never lived alone. It was then that I realized that this scary feeling that I had was anxiety. I never acknowledged it before. I never realized that anxiety has been a constant companion of mine for years. I thought that this wound-up feeling in my stomach was just part of being a Type A, perfectionist, overachieving Asian female. I thought anxiety was a failing that weak people who can’t control their thoughts and emotions had.

Did you know that anxiety is so common that 18.1% of the population are affected every year, but less than 40% receive treatment? And these statistics are just from the people who are diagnosed. There are millions more like how I was, who are in denial and will never get diagnosed or seek help. So if any of these at all resonate with you, it’s okay to feel this way and you are not alone.

These uncertain times are definitely a big trigger for a lot of people. I have found the following to be very helpful:

Talk therapy/Counseling-It was my therapist, Carol, who helped me realize that I suffered from anxiety. She was able to help me acknowledge my emotions, feel my feelings, and process them. I literally would not be where I am today without her. I have recommended her to a lot of my friends and patients and they are grateful to find a therapist who truly gets them. Another great resource is online therapy such as Betterhelp. The counselors there can also give you tools to manage your anxiety such as breathing exercises, socratic reasoning to challenge irrational thoughts, body work, and more. Here is what the socratic reasoning worksheet looks like and really helpful when you start to have obsessive thinking:


Writing a compassionate letter to yourself-I got this idea from author Elizabeth Gilbert. She talked about how she would write these letters to herself whenever she would feel anxious and afraid. I started doing this whenever I feel anxious, scared, and alone. I wrote it coming from someone with the utmost compassion, understanding, and patience, and what I needed to hear at the time. I would write something like this:

“My dearest Paula,
I know that you are going through such an uncertain and terrifying time right now.  You are scared, anxious and feel alone. I am here, my love, and I will never leave. I see you. I know you. I hear you. Never fear, my love, for you are safe. You have gone through so much. You don’t have to be so strong all the time. It’s okay to be unsure. But I am here…”
(and so on…..)


Self Worth/Self Love work-A lot of research shows that most people like me who are perfectionists suffer from anxiety because we attach our worthiness with what we achieve, how much we accomplish, and what we do for others. Then, when we fail at something, our self-esteem comes crashing down because we do not know how it is to cultivate UNCONDITIONAL self worth. I came across this incredible Ted x Talk by Dr. Adia Gooden that sums it up pretty well. She even talks about 4 easy ways to start cultivating this within ourselves:

I also created a Self-Love/Self-Worth Meditation playlist on one of my favorite apps, Insight Timer. You can get it HERE for free.

Meditation-Speaking of meditation, I still do meditations as often as I can, usually twice a day, in the morning when I wake up and at bedtime. It has helped me feel centered and enabled me to slow down my thoughts and focus on the present moment. Usually, we get anxious when we think about the past or when we worry about the future. Mindfulness and meditation are two helpful tools to help keep us in the moment.

Discovering new things that I love-This new time of self-discovery, opened up new facets in me that I didn’t know existed. I started watercolor painting (which I really thought I was gonna hate) but I love it and I find it so therapeutic. I can describe my art as abstract expressionism very much inspired by one of my favorites, the great Sam Francis (but that is truly overreaching LOL). I also started paddleboarding in Virginia Key on the weekends and it gives me such a feeling of peace, contentment, and gratitude.  Next on the list are: learning how to ride a motorcycle, get Nitrox certified, kitesurfing, sculpting, and I am determined to still skydive.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of self-improvement and self-discovery. If any of these resonate with you, want you to know that no matter what you’re feeling, its okay and you are not alone.


Lots of love,