The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, some much more so than others. I’m one of the lucky ones. No one I know has died or even is sick. I’m retired, and I’m naturally a homebody. I’m making good progress on my WIP. For me personally, life isn’t that much different than it was before the stay-at-home order, although standing in line to go to the supermarket is not something I thought I’d ever see.
Of course, I’m extremely worried for our health care workers and first responders, and I’m heartbroken for all the lives cut short. I’m concerned for all the kids with lousy or no wifi and I hope that their educational opportunities will not be short-circuited. There are so many things to worry about in a pandemic.
But while I’m largely doing okay, many of my friends are very stressed. And then this morning, I woke up with a free-floating anxiety. I felt paralyzed. And I hate that feeling.
There’s a lot we can’t control in a pandemic, but some things do lie within our control. And one of those things is how we face our fears. This morning, I was kind to myself: I turned on the fireplace, put on some Mozart, and ate chocolate cake for breakfast while I read my current murder mystery. All things I love to do, except usually I try to resist chocolate cake for breakfast.
And then I read this article by Bella Mahaya Carter on SheWrites, who says that while we can’t eliminate anxiety because it’s a normal human emotion, we can get relief by understanding how it works and changing our relationship to it. Being gentle with your feelings, she says, can make the difference between panic and repose. (Chocolate cake, check!)
What’s the first thing to do? Don’t focus on your anxieties. Instead, feel what you feel. Lean in and accept. (I think chocolate cake works for this, too.)
Don’t ask yourself why you feel anxious. (That’s obvious: We’re in a pandemic, people.) Instead, connect with your immediate, physical experience.
For example, what do you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? Can you literally smell the flowers, hear the birds (taste the chocolate cake!), feel the sunshine? What can you feel this instant? Focus on immediate things that are rather than the fears that could be.
Distraction is a valid tool. Are you out of chocolate cake? Maybe it’s time to try making doughnuts! Maybe you want to take a walk after and enjoy the fresh air. Or dance like nobody’s watching. Do something you especially enjoy doing, or maybe accept a challenge and try something new. In my case, maybe I’ll try cleaning the house.
I’m happy to report that the fire, Mozart, chocolate cake, and murder mystery, plus a phone call to a good friend, cheered me right up. Now I’m prepared to brave the lines at the supermarket tomorrow.
What about you guys? How are you doing?