The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions across the world. Isabelle Utleg, an illustrator from Metro Manila, Philiippines, is one of them. In this illustrative essay, she shares with us how she used her art as a therapeutic tool to navigate and better manage her anxiety.
The current events have been pretty heavy and emotionally draining for me. During the first few days of the quarantine period in my country, I experienced bad anxiety. The events happening around the world had been quite overwhelming and on top of that I was feeling under the weather. I thought I had it. I thought I had the coronavirus. It brought me so much stress and took so much of my energy emotionally. Thankfully, I got better.
Before I created these illustrations, my emotions were unstable. I never would have thought that staying at home, not being able to do my daily routine, and not seeing the people I usually see would affect me so greatly. Looking for ways to cope, I sought comfort in art and self-love. I felt the need to turn this negative situation into a healthy one. I learned to spend time with just me, myself and I, and started paying attention to myself—something I had never done before. But most of all, I learned to love myself more and enjoy the little things that life has to offer.
They say self-care isn’t a luxury but a necessity. I could not agree more. Growing up, my father would always tell me to do something today that my future self would thank me for. Picking myself up during these trying times and learning to keep an eye on myself physically, emotionally, and mentally is something I am truly thankful for.
Living through this difficult time we are all in, I want to stress the importance of taking care of yourself, whether it be through doing something relaxing or just finding peace by doing nothing at all.