Finding Peace in the Pandemic When You Have Anxiety

Welcome to 2020.  This year was full of so much promise as most new years are.  A beginning of a new decade.  The time for new promises to ourselves and our loved ones.  We were all going to do better, be better this year.  And as with most of these resolutions, by week 2 or 3, most were out the window, either by accident or by lack of discipline.

I had made the promise to myself to eat better, slow down just a little, and try to spend more time with my family.  I knew it would be challenging, however, being a busy working mom of three children who were involved in extracurriculars and who had commitments to attending therapy multiple times a week.  Weekends quickly became the time to get chores done and just like that, my resolution to slow down was quickly dissolved by the demands that life had of me.  I was stressed, my life was go go go and I found myself taking out my frustrations on those around me.  This year was not going the way I had planned.

And then a few months into our year, I was suddenly forced to stop everything.  Schools were closed.  Businesses were closed.  Parks and museums closed.  Work came home indefinitely.  Our family went from going our separately ways five days a week, to being in one space every hour of every day.  Just like that, sports came to a halt, extracurricular were no longer required, and therapy happened from the living room couch.  Schedules were suddenly erased as we had no where else to go.  As a planner this could’ve easily been a nightmare.

I don’t know how you have been feeling about everything that’s been going on.  But as for me and my anxiety, this pandemic has triggered fears about trying to keep myself and my family safe, while ensuring we have what we need, making sure that I am keeping my children entertained, and trying to navigate through the treacherous waters that is homeschooling.  As with most things, it seems that my friends have it down pat perfectly…. that their children have taken to being at home and getting their school work done around the kitchen table an adventure while I struggle to help my 9 year old answer a simple reading comprehension problem.   I have no idea what the next day holds, no clue as to when things will get back to normal.  And while I am still planning a Disney trip for my family for later this summer, I haven’t begun to acknowledge the anxiety that accompanies the unknown for those plans either…. I might explode if I do.

For type-A personalities, this pandemic could have been the worst thing ever to have happened.  We have no control over most of the things that we want to be able to have some control in.  Plans are no longer really relevant and it seems that we are at the mercy of some unknown virus that is having its way throughout the world.

But despite the anxiety I have about the unknown, there are a few things of which I am sure.  While I can’t control what’s going on out there, I can control how I respond to it.  I can control my attitude which can help shape my children’s attitude.  I can control encouragement and gratitude for the things that we have, the resources we have, and the time we suddenly have.  I can control how we spend this new found time together.  While I can’t control whether or not a child might have a meltdown while trying to complete an “impossible” assignment, I can control how the school day schedule looks, giving my children choices what what they want to do, and interjecting fun activities to break up the monotony of worksheets.  I can control how much we get outside and explore our neighborhood.  I can control how often I work out.  I can control how much I can love my family during a time when not much else is certain.

Finding peace during this time can be a challenge but it is also a choice we have to make.  It is easy to let anxiety and worry overwhelm us.  This is a scary time and it is okay to acknowledge that things are difficult right now.  But it’s also on us to count our blessings, to realize what this time also brings for our society which is desperately needed right now.  We have been forced to close.  Earth for the most part is closed right now.  Most of us have been forced to stop.  And in this still, we can see a little clearly what is most important.  We are learning to enjoy spending time with ourselves so that we can better appreciate spending time with each other.  We have learned that first responders, medical professionals, military personnel, and those who work in food services are valued and needed members of our society.  Our country is literally in their hands right now.  We have suddenly been made to understand how to be resourceful and creative with what we have.  And we are starting to understand that there is a real difference about what is essential versus what we can do without.  In appreciating what we have, it’s time to acknowledge that not everyone has what we so often take for granted.  It’s time to give back to those less fortunate, to even the playing field so that everyone has a chance to live their best lives.  It’s time to come together, to support each other, to love each other.

It’s about time.

I choose to spend this time slowing down, taking in every single day to enjoy for the sake of living in it.  Our days are not meant to be count down or wasted.  Our days are not meant to be rushed through or even scheduled down to the very last second.  We have been given life, although with challenges, to enjoy to the fullest.  In these days of uncertainty, I can be certain to create memories with my family that will help my kids to remember this time not for all the stress it created, but for the adventures they experienced.  I hope that this is a time that they will look back and remember the closeness we experienced as a family, playing together, eating together, just being together.

And my hope is that we all despite what is being asked of us… whether it’s heading in for the beginning of a crazy long shift in the ER, or whether it’s checking in for the weekly meeting with your job while trying to keep your preschooler entertained.  Whether you are out of work and are trying to navigate unemployment for the first time, or if you still have loads of work deadlines to meet while homeschooling your easily distracted 3rd grader… my hope is that we all despite our individual circumstances can find some peace during this pandemic.  That despite all the stress it has the potential to create within us, that we can find a way to take our lives back, to remember that within each day is the promise of something amazing simply because we haven’t lived that day before and now we get to live it this day.  Life isn’t easy right now nor should it be, but we can be in control of how we choose to treat each day.  And there is no time like now, when all we have is time.  Let’s make it count for something.

2020 isn’t over yet.


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