Is it me or has the world gone mad?
Have we tried unplugging 2020 and plugging it back in again?
How else do we fix this?
If you’re reading about my anxiety, you’re likely feeling it too.
Confused. Concerned. Conflicted about how to handle this contagion.
I feel for those afflicted by COVID-19 and for those fearful of it. I worry about the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, my former colleagues at CBS News quarantined from the newsroom, small businesses facing economic uncertainty and all those parents out there uncertain what to do between work and childcare amid school closures.
That’s A LOT of worry for a short time frame.
This isn’t your typical middle-of-the-night anxiety.
It’s an anxiety spike, well above the curve.
We could be in this situation for a while.
Will it get better?
Will it get worse?
Do I try to flatten the curve on the anxiety to space it out over time?
And how do I prepare for the unknown of how long it will go on?
Oh, did you come here for solutions?
I gotta be honest. I don’t have them. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself this week, it’s that I’m supposed to stop touching my face. And… I can’t stop touching my face.
All I know is… This is not the way the story was supposed to go.
But let’s rewrite what we can.
We can’t change the past or know what’s going to happen in the future, but we can be proactive in the present.
Looking for a sense of normalcy in this new normal (that is anything but normal)?
Here are some tips:
Stick to a routine. Life is anything but routine now with remote work and school cancellations. Create a sense of control in small, manageable ways. Shower and get dressed even if there’s nowhere to go. Abide by regular mealtimes and bedtimes. Exercise at the same time, take that coffee break when you usually do and keep up with household tasks to keep your environment a place of refuge.
Limit exposure. Not just to other people! How much exposure do you have daily to negativity via news outlets and the Chicken Littles on your Twitter feed? Stay informed with what you need to know, now, and add to your daily intake some add art, beauty, comedy, and positivity. You are what you ingest. Don’t feed on garbage
Keep moving. Staying away from the gym? Do what you can at home. Stretch, breathe, keep moving, get some fresh air. My daily walks are for creativity. Now they are for sanity as well.
Stay social. “Social distancing” shouldn’t distance you from love and support. FaceTime with friends so you can “see” each other. Have a virtual coffee. Isolation can lead to depression. Use connectivity tools to stay in touch.
Share your care. Text that friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Call the friend you’re concerned about. Send a note to your strong friend to make sure she’s OK too. Let people know you care and are there for them, even from afar.
Do some good. Running an errand? Pick up some items for someone who is homebound. Donate to your local food bank. Spread positivity instead of worry and nonsense. Not only does it do good, it feels good.
I’m doing what I can today to flatten my own anxiety curve. Writing. Cleaning my house. Staying social on social. Reassuring my kids. Petting the dog.
Your Rx might look a little different. Write your own prescription and take several doses daily until symptoms subside.
Let’s all do what we can to contain the challenging emotions that come with challenging times.
What are your tips for managing uncertainty?
Valerie Gordon is the founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist and the Commander-in-She blog. She helps high-achievers with the skills and tools necessary to create thriving careers. Workshops on confident communication, career advocacy and storytelling strategies for success are offered in-person and online. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org