Tending Life in a Pandemic: An Antidote to Anxiety

Across the globe, the majority of us have two jobs:

  1. Hold gratitude for those on the frontlines providing direct care to people suffering from COVID-19.
  2. Follow any and all safety guidelines to enable essential workers to do their essential work.

It’s vital that we stay home and stay calm. Even though that might sound simple, it isn’t necessarily easy. As most of us “shelter in place,” some recovering from mild/moderate illness, how can we quell our growing concerns enough to function? How can we keep our anxiety from swallowing us whole when so much feels unknown?

Perhaps by tending life.

We can take note of life’s propensity to endure. We can lend a hand to the people, pets, and plants surrounding us. And, we can keep busy with purposeful projects.

People

“Social distancing,” although a bit of a misnomer, has caused us to realize the true value of interconnectedness. Many of us are experiencing an intense yearning for gatherings and outings. What health organizations are asking us to practice is “physical distancing.” Socializing (remotely) is key. We must continue to reach out to friends, family members, and those dealing with loneliness and/or grief via phone calls, texts, emails, video chats, and letters (that have been safely handled). The technology that seemed to be threatening meaningful interactions, e.g., people dining out together perusing their smartphones instead of talking, is now a lifeline.

Cards for the children’s hospital

Pets

They know nothing of this crisis. Instead, they focus on the same pressing issues as always: food, exercise, and affection. The sight of a wagging tail, a walk in nature, or the feel of a purring cat can settle our nerves and center us into the moment.

No pet? Check out a live stream of baby animals or virtually head to a zoo for an adventure.

Our resident goofball

Plants

Here in Vermont, there couldn’t be a better season than spring to witness life’s annual renewal. Buds are forming. Perennials are sprouting. We’re mapping out our vegetable garden and starting to sow some seeds. Even indoors, my youngest and I “rescued” some spider plant babies, rooted them in water for a few weeks, and then planted them in pots.

Spider baby rescue mission

Projects

Working on projects can keep us tethered to some semblance of normalcy. Depending on circumstances, some of us are cramming more than ever into each day, while others are floundering in free time.

Help the kids with schoolwork? Paint the trim? Write that memoir? Launch a new training program about pet loss support? Envision virtual doula services? That may or may not be my personal list…

Baking (math! chemistry!)

The times we find we have the least energy for self-care are the times we need it the most. Relaxation. Leisure time. Reading. Breathing fresh air. And maybe watching a movie series (think: Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars). It’s okay to allow ourselves an escape to another world temporarily.

Perfection isn’t the goal—balanced health is.

Each morning, my doula heart gently reminds me: You’ll never get this day back. It’s one less in the grand tally. How can you spend it well (for the sake of the world and your own well-being, so inextricably linked)?

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