There’s a lot of chaos going on right now. A tumultuous election, uncertain economy, and then layer in the worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus on top of everyday life. People are panicking and it’s hard to not spiral out of control. As an anxious person, I have been worried about the situation we are currently in for the last couple of weeks, long before all the toilet paper was sold out. I was hoping I’d be wrong and this would all settle down by now, but in this uncertain and stressful time, how can you keep yourself in reality and not think ahead about all the what-ifs and worry about how to keep your family safe?
It’s ok to freak out.
However, you still have to take care of yourself and your family. Take a few moments and release your stress and emotions. Acknowledge the pressure that is filling your mind before it explodes like an overfilled balloon. Sit in your car and take a few deep breaths before you walk in the door. Take a long shower. Have a glass of wine after you put the kids down. Do what you need to do and then make your game plan.
Control what can you control.
The unknown is a breeding ground for anxiety and worry, but slow down and focus on what you can control. As someone who has the next two years planned out down to the week, in a matter of hours I threw my whole plan out the window. Without establishing my new two-year plan immediately, I feel like one of those inflatable tube men being tossed around in the wind. Life will return to normal at some point and until then, I’ll focus on what my family needs for the next month and go from there. Take it day by day, or hour by hour even. Focus on what you need to get your family through the next day or week and go from there.
If it makes you feel better, buy some items in bulk and grab a few extra essentials your family uses, but don’t go overboard. The great TP shortage of 2020 is showing us that we are all attempting to cope with retail therapy. Make your **realistic** list and go to the store. If you’re able, donate some extras to your local food pantry or animal shelter. Businesses will be hit hard and this means thousands of people will potentially go without pay or lose their jobs. If you have the resources, help those in your community.
Handle the information overload.
Social media, emails, work policies, news outlets, group chats. Information can be a virus on its own. First, find a reputable source with evidence-based reporting. Your social network isn’t where you should base your information. Stay informed, but set your boundaries on how much news you’re watching. Check-in a couple of times a day, but it’s ok to opt-out if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s also ok to take a break from the conversation. I found myself spiraling several times this past week with all the uncertainty. Talking with friends and coworkers about the limbo we’re living in overwhelmed me more. How long will work be closed? How long will schools be closed? Can I go to the grocery store? Fear is a dangerous emotion. It’s ok to press pause and remove yourself if you need it.
What can I do?
Check on your loved ones. In a time where we’re trying to limit physical contact, try Facetime or pick up the phone and steer the conversation away from just the virus. This can cause more anxiety for yourself and your family. Help others. Think of those who can’t stay home or are going to be impacted by the loss of business. Check with your local food banks on their needs. Call your first responders and dispatchers or other essential employees on their non-emergency phone lines to see how you can help them. Support your favorite causes. I work for a nonprofit organization that is canceling or postponing events because of government bans. Your favorite cause is still trying to deliver its mission, and they need your help now more than ever.