Kay: Hanging in There

Breakfast food! Photo from sallysbakingaddiction.com. This woman knows her way around cake.

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?

6 thoughts on “Kay: Hanging in There

  1. How am I doing? Strangely, I seem to be craving chocolate cake 🙂

    Seriously, I’m mostly fine for many of the same reasons you’ve mentioned above, but I too have random free-floating anxiety, thanks to all of the uncertainty. Watching the news isn’t helping, so I’ve tried to dial that back a little.

    I’ve found trying to establish some kind of schedule helps a little. I make sure to go out for a walk every evening after work–late enough that there are few (if any) people around, but early enough that it is still light. Not only to I get some fresh air and exercise (and a chance to wear one of my stylish masks!), but it helps mark an end to my work-at-home day. Before the walks, I’d often find it was perilously close to bedtime and I was still logged into work.

    I like the suggestion of connecting with the immediate, physical experience to deal with anxiety. That’s probably a good thing to do on a regular basis, anxiety or not.

    • Yeah, I think that walk you’re taking after work while it’s still light is probably the best thing you can do for anxiety. I often find that looking into the distance is very calming. And absolutely better for you than chocolate cake! (Although, of course chocolate cake has its purposes, too.)

  2. Things are okay here.

    The toughest thing is food. We decided not to go inside the supermarket so we order for pickup or delivery. In either case, wait times may be as much as a week. Which means I now need to project menus and daily needs two weeks into the future. This is not a strength of mine.

    But on a scale of “minor irritant” to “major crisis” it’s kind of a nit.

    Where I can easily freak myself out is thinking about how we get out of this in less than a year to 18 months. I can see some potential exit strategies but they’d require strong leadership and a fair amount of luck. Not sure we can count on either.

    • I went to two stores today because the first store had none of the essential four things I needed. The second store didn’t either, so it turns out that I will be improvising on what I think is “essential.” The interesting thing for me was that the first store, an enormous box, was a relatively unpleasant experience, although my checker did everything he could to make up for the rude customers. The second store, smaller and known for friendliness, is still friendly. I don’t know why grocery shopping is something I enjoy, and I still enjoy it, even during our stay-at-home order. Ordering and waiting for it is not for me unless I become more seriously infirm, or all the grocery stores close except for pickup and delivery.

      But like you, I don’t see a way out of this any time soon. I’m happy in a lot of ways that I live in California, which has a decisive and proactive governor. And I’m willing to stay at home, so there’s that. But I was talking to someone in Wisconsin today who lives in a more rural area, and he said that no one is masking, no one maintains social distancing—he said, either “because they’re Trumpists,” or because “they think if they rebel it won’t happen to them.” I can’t imagine how most of the population will manage if we’re at this for six or twelve or eighteen months. What about all those jobs and schools? Egads.

      Time for chocolate cake!

  3. We’re all doing okay. We were in this from Day 1. I was tested for coronavirus and all of us were quarantined for varying amounts of time. We started taking our temperatures daily and it’s a good thing we did because all of us have temperatures right about 97 so if we had the ‘normal’ temp of 98.6, that would be considered an elevated temperature.

    I live in Maryland with a very decisive governor so we have strict rules to live under now. My husband and I are working out some glitches with working from home. It’s hard to have two zoom meetings at the same time in the same office. But, like Jeanne said, in the grand scheme, that’s a nit.

    Hang in there everyone!

    • I’ve read about your governor! Congratulations on electing a good one. 🙂

      I’m so glad that you and your family are past the quarantine and are doing fine—or at least, as fine as possible these days. It’s always good to hear success stories.

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