Seeing Clearly through Anxious Times
Hello readers, how are you doing? I wanted to say hello and that I hope everyone is taking care of themselves. In D.C., the flowers are blooming, and the cherry blossoms are primed to peak in the next couple of days. The sun shines longer in the sky and glows warm when it peeks out behind the clouds. I celebrate my birthday in a few days.
It’s a beautiful time of year shrouded in an invisible blanket of uncertainty, and it doesn’t seem that we’ll be pulling off that invisible layer anytime soon.
Those of us who can, work virtually from our homes. We plug away beneath the steady rain of emails from every single organization and company we’ve ever heard of informing us how they are handling COVID-19. Throughout the day, I refresh headlines to see if something new has occurred.
During off hours, we limit our proximity to others and time in places like grocery stores. Some of us still crave the outdoors and, whether it is a good or bad idea, we venture out after the workday ends. Many of us appear to be on the same schedule; we need staggered shifts to ensure adherence to the social distancing guidelines.
The city is quiet and uncomfortably calm. It contrasts with the seasonal changes we observe that encourage us to enjoy the enchantment of spring all around us.
We do not know what is next. I don’t know about you, but I feel anxious a lot of the time.
Last month I wrote about how I had begun eliminating added sugar from my diet, and I’ve continued that practice. I also stopped consuming alcohol.
The benefits of no sugar or alcohol over the past 2.5 months continue to manifest. I have become hyper aware of when I reach for alcohol or sugar, which is often as a reaction to stress or anxiety.
Their removal struck a short term blow to decades of less-than-optimal coping habits. It also allowed for clarity in two other areas: the thoughts in my head, especially during stressful times; and awareness of the array of tools I employ to manage or soothe my feelings. I bite my nails. I grind my teeth. I run. I ride my bike. I practice yoga. I will shop. This list is not all-inclusive!
As you see, certain outlets are healthier than others. I was vaguely aware that my emotional crutch toolbox looked like this, but it took the elimination of two of the most regularly employed tools to clearly see it.
Compared to many others, my situation is secure. Even so, this is a time that has upended the daily routine. We are walking into the unfamiliar, the unknown.
The urge to revert to unhelpful coping methods occasionally enters my head. I take a breath, boil water, and brew tea. I read fiction – not dystopian fiction! I resist refreshing the headlines and grasp for perspective. Repeat.
I’m grateful for my no-sugar, no-alcohol journey. It has not been the sacrifice I initially imagined, and has helped to crystalize my thinking.
The additional clarity in my head allows for more nourishing choices – not all the time, but I’m on my way. Thanks to all of you for reading.
Before I sign off for now, two things. First, does anyone have ideas for recipes or meals during a time when it’s more difficult to secure fresh vegetables? And do you have any book recommendations (again, not dystopian ficton!)?
Second, I hope the best for everyone. I hope you are well, and that you stay safe and healthy, maintain contact with friends, and engage in physical activity as you can. Let me know how you’re faring. We’ll be talking.