The coronavirus (COVID-19) has instigated anxiety for many. Some of us already experienced anxiety on a daily basis and didn’t need to be instigated. Being at home with our family members, working, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, washing mounds of laundry and trying to find some quiet time amidst being home all together has been quite stressful, to say the very least.
For many of us, being in quarantine has created a sense of vulnerability and fear that may not have existed in this large-scale version. We are bored of staying home and scared to leave. There are so many pressures to be present and yet work and teach our children. There is pressure to take advantage of the time at home with our families and the time that has been created, and yet we may not have the energy or the desire to do much because so much energy is spent just trying to get through the day.
The whirlwind of thoughts and “shoulds” and “musts” is immense, along with the negativity that comes with not being able to keep up with the high standards to be “perfect” in the middle of a pandemic. Here is a glimpse of the thoughts and questions that come by to visit often:
- I should have been more patient.
- I shouldn’t have yelled.
- I should be more present.
- I should be doing something radical with this time.
- I should clean or organize something.
- I’m not cooking enough.
- I’m not spending enough time with my kids or spouse.
- I should exercise more.
- I should call my parents more often.
Our anxious thoughts are out of control, leaving many of us struggling to get through the day and then not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. Then, there’s the grief, the sense of loss of graduations, weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers and other milestones that have been postponed indefinitely.
Here’s a glimpse of an anxious mama’s perpetual stream of thoughts. I’m sure I’m in good company.
- Did my son read enough today?
- How am I going to manage to homeschool and work today? Every day?
- Are we safe?
- Do I have the coronavirus?
- Will my mask keep me safe?
- Will my kids have the skills they need for their next grade?
- When will a vaccine be created?
- Does my son know his math facts?
- When will this end?
- I want to go out to the store but I’m scared.
- What if I bring home the virus when I go out to a store?
- Are my parents and in-laws safe? What if they get the virus?
- Will my practice make it through this?
- What if the supermarkets run out of food?
- Are my kids spending too much time in front of their screens?
- Are my kids OK emotionally?
- Should I be interacting more with my kids?
- Should I leave my kids be?
- Do I have to wash another load of laundry?
- Are we eating healthy enough?
- Do we have enough vitamin C in this house?
- I should be getting more done with this newfound time.
- Do I have more time or less of it?
It’s so easy to get lost in these negative thoughts and unrealistic demands that we place upon ourselves. We place them on ourselves. We have created them, and we can uncreate them. When you find yourself getting wired with anxiety, it’s time to shift your focus on what you can control and get yourself “unstuck” from all the negativity and worry:
- What am I making for dinner?
- Let me take a 15-minute walk
- Which movie or series do I want to watch tonight?
- What game can I play with my kids tonight?
- What song do I want to listen to?
- Who do I want to call?
- Who do I want to have a virtual happy hour with this week?
- Which drawer or closet do I want to declutter?
With the weather getting warmer, you can:
- Plant a garden.
- Plant flowers.
- Pull out weeds.
Although this new phase of “normal” seems like it’s here to stay for a while, focus on what you do have control over rather than what you don’t. And, be kind to yourself.