I can’t remember a time I didn’t feel worried about something. As a child I fixated on issues both real and imagined, from the single question I’d answered incorrectly on a test to how I might escape my bedroom if the house caught on fire during the night. It was like my brain was trying to sprint through quicksand. I carried this sense of impending doom into adulthood, where it hovered over my career, my relationships, and my overall sense of self-worth. Finally, at the age of 31, I met with a therapist, who put a name to my invisible villain: I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that affects 6.8 million adults in the US each year.
Recognizing the symptoms of GAD has allowed me to implement strategies to better manage and redirect my anxiety. I’m especially grateful for these tools in 2020 — a year best described as a cornucopia of chaos. Here are some of the methods I’ve used to tackle stress and uncertainty during this unprecedented time. If you need professional guidance, talk to your doctor or work to find a therapist you can see regularly even if you’re unable to meet with them in person.