When Leaving the House Makes Me Feel Overwhelmed
In all the time I’ve been working from home, life’s been pretty simple. No commute. Dress however I like. Go to the gym when I’ve finished my morning activities. Dance a couple of nights a week. Maybe somewhere in there I meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Errands on the same day every week.
It’s a lot more complicated now, though I spend more time at home, and inside the house. Sure, I can go outside into my yard whenever I like (though when I do, I’m reminded of all the things I need to do there now that I have the tools to do it), but I’ve given up walks because there are simply too many people walking around my neighborhood these days. I put off going grocery shopping as long as I can. The trips are now dictated by when I’m down to my last 5-gallon bottle of water.
When I do go out, it’s an ordeal of mask-wearing, sanitizing, and making sure I don’t directly touch anything I have to. When I get home, I have to sanitize the top of my washing machine so I can put the items I’ve wiped down on top of it, but only after I’ve scrubbed my hands. I don’t want to touch anything after I’ve touched heaven knows how many other peoples’ germs all over the stores. I even leave a clean set of clothes in the garage to change into after I’ve removed the ones I wore in the stores (because heaven knows when I might have walked through a lingering cough or sneeze).
Overly Cautious, or Legitimately Careful?
The rigamarole I go through which may or may not be necessary, but I’m not taking any chances, is worse than when I used to have to get ready to take my twin babies out of the house for any length of time. I can’t even imagine trying to do this with children in tow. They are among the worst at social distancing in the first place, and can’t wear masks if they’re under 2 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Many believe I’m being overly cautious, especially given the fact I have no health conditions. But I am considered a senior citizen based solely on the years I’ve been in this particular meat suit, and thus considered high risk. If it was just about me, I might relax my process a bit if I saw numbers dropping significantly. The truth is, it isn’t just about me. Anyone I come into contact with, however briefly, or who touches something I touched first could be put at risk if I lower my standards or become careless. That weighs on me heavily.
Because I have a friend staying on my property who works in a hospital, I hear about people, and even several members of the same family who are dealing with a disease that can’t be seen or adequately detected under current circumstances. My conscience dictates that I take what to some might seem unreasonable precautions so I minimize the risk of infecting others. I may not go out much, but when I am out, I don’t want to be putting the people around me at risk.
Making Your Own Educated Choices
Sure, it’s a choice right now, especially in the county I live in, to be more diligent than required. I see how overworked and stressed my friend is, and know only by practicing things like social distancing, mask wearing, and over-the-top personal hygiene can I do my part to help keep the flow of patients down. The part I do might be small; even minuscule, but if each one of us was excessively diligent, it might save a few of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from either burnout, or succumbing to the disease themselves.
The problem lies in my own response to the extreme measures I believe I need to take. The very idea of having to go out of the house to run errands would, until recently, elicit a migraine either the day before when I’d stress myself out with anticipation, or the day of, leaving me sitting in the Costco parking lot after loading my groceries into the car, with eyes closed and the seat leaned back until my vision cleared and I was able to ward off the worst of the headache.
It also means I’m less than responsive to any suggestion to add one more step to anything I’m already doing. And it means I have more days than I like when I get absolutely nothing of merit accomplished. Thankfully, I’ve learned not to beat myself up for those days, but they still nag at me in their own way.
Reducing Stress Responses
I’ve come to the conclusion I need to somehow lower my negative response to all the extra steps I’m taking to simply acquire food, and a few medicines and supplements I can’t easily acquire online. My processes need to change yet again so, if nothing else, a trip to the market doesn’t elicit severe anxiety and resistant behaviors. It’s especially irritating when the activities in question are things I’ve done without a second thought for decades. How has adding a few steps turned them into some of the most stressful parts of my month?
Perhaps I’m overdoing the precautions. Maybe I don’t need to change clothes in the garage for fear of dragging potential virus bits into my house. Maybe I don’t need to wipe all of my groceries down with Clorox wipes. To be honest, I think I’d end up stressing myself out more if I didn’t. If I wore clothes or brought things into the house without sanitizing, I’d be forever wondering if I was putting myself more at risk, and in so doing, put others who I encountered without the six foot spacing or masks on both our faces at risk as well. Frankly, I’m not willing to take the chance.
Using Physical Activity to Mitigate Stress
The solution is to engage in more practices which offset the errand-induced stress before and after I leave the house to make those necessary trips. Instead of focusing on what’s causing my anxiety, I need to turn my attention to those things which have, and always will relieve it.
Sometimes, redirection is the only way around a problem. There’s no pat answer to how much effort needs to be put into cleaning what comes into our homes, including ourselves. but there are numerous methods for relieving the anxiety and stress it causes. Things like yoga, meditation, gardening…even cleaning. Basically, anything that allows me to release the excess energy that’s building up inside me will likely also minimize the amount of anxiety that actually becomes stress. It’s worth a try.
Always Plenty to be Grateful For
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for options.
- I’m grateful I can choose how much or how little I’m going to do to help lower the spread of COVID.
- I’m grateful for friends who are voluntarily indulging in safe practices, even if it means a lot of extra steps to do normally simple tasks.
- I’m grateful I’ve learned not to beat myself up for not accomplishing a huge list of tasks every day.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, support, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, dedication, peace, harmony, health, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward