Thoughts on anxiety in the time of COVID-19

I’m sure the stress level is high for everyone in this uncertain time with COVID-19.

I’ve been working from home for many years, and I thought my weekday situation was not too far from self-isolation, seriously. I was wrong.

If I look at the instruction of self-isolation by the BC Centre for Disease Control, only two things apply to my working-from-home criteria.

  • Stay at home (Yes, mostly, but I can go out when I have to or want to.)
  • Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often (Sure, I do this regularly anyway.)

The rest do not apply to my usual working-from-home.

  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
  • You can ask friends or relatives if you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication. Alternatively, you can order groceries and medication by phone or online
  • Limit the number of visitors to your home. Only have visitors who you must see and keep the visits short
  • Avoid face-to-face contact; keep a distance of 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) from another person.
  • Self-isolation can end 14 days after the last contact or return to Canada.

Even though I am not in the self-isolation, my anxiety (or maybe nervousness) is growing, and I wonder what exactly is causing this.

Again, I’m not a person who is suddenly forced to work from home or a person who needs to go to the workplace to keep our lifeline while others stay home.

Things that are likely giving me anxiety

  1. News updates pop up on my computer
Screenshot of popup notification
You know this popup.
  1. Emails from companies telling me how they are coping with COVID-19
  2. Empty shelves in grocery stores
  3. Coffee shops, restaurants, retail stores and public places announced to close till further notice

So now, what do I do?

  1. My trip to Japan in April is still on the table (to go or not: 50/50), so I am keeping my eye on the latest news from the government of Canada and Japan. I wanted to find the latest news the second after they come out. The reality is the circumstances are changing every day, and depending on the circumstance, I probably can’t make a change or cancel my cheap air ticket until one week before the flight anyway. So, I limit to checking the news only at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm. It’s still good enough to keep me up to date. And you guessed it. I turned off the popup.
  2. The emails from companies about COVID-19 are constant reminders of the situation. The more I get, I feel the state worsens. Everyone’s point is basically the same. I get the message. So, rather than feeling depressed every time, I started to observe and compare them. Companies (and human) often reveals who they really are in a difficult time. I found some very clear and helpful. Some are pretty much business-like.
  3. I can’t do much about the empty shelves in grocery stores. I don’t see the trend anymore. The out-of-stock doesn’t discriminate. However, some items I usually buy are still pretty much available; brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta, milk, eggs, and some veggies at least for now. I don’t have a freezer to stock up on large amounts of meat anyway. I still have some toilet tissue and sanitizing stuff, for now, so let me take one day at a time and be happy with what I have. Nothing lasts forever.
  4. There is a big difference between “having the freedom to do a thing but not doing it by choice” and “not doing it because I am not allowed to do so”. I find this gives me the most anxiety. When same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, one of my nieces asked me, “Are you going to get married?” I said, “I am enjoying the freedom to get married whenever I want to, and you will be the first one to know if I decide to do so.” OK, back to the current issue. Not that I go out and have a cup of coffee or grab a bite every day, but it bothers me if I don’t have the freedom to do so. The same thing applies to retail shops. I found that the best thing I can do is simply to go out for a run or a long walk. As I see more people on the beach on a weekday evening, many people are probably feeling the same way. It’s also nice to see other people enjoying the sunshine from the “social distance.”
  5. Another thing I enjoy these days is #drawtogether class by Wendy MacNaughton on Instagram. It’s less than 30 minutes each day. It’s for kids and parents stuck at home, but adults without parents stuck at home can also enjoy it.

COVID-19 seems to be bigger and staying longer than expected.
Let’s take each day at a time, making the balance between cautiousness and nervousness, and do whatever we can to take part in overcoming this battle. We can still find a way to enjoy and appreciate what we have.

Hoping for the best.