When the virus started its rampage around the globe and finally hit home, I got beset by an overwhelming surge of anxiety, worry, and fear. With the massive changes in upending how we go about our daily lives physically, socially, and financially, I along with everyone else was left with uncertainty, the unknown, and the interminable waiting.
It didn’t help that the pandemic news is, to be honest, both horrifying and fascinating. It’s like driving by a car accident and not being able to resist looking. Gorging on the daily news of doom was almost like watching multiple episodes of a Netflix drama—except there is no end. Binge-watching works when you know you’ll meet a climactic closure. There is no such thing here in this reality show playing in real time.
It was also easy to develop OCD about hygiene. Did that person just breathe on me less than six feet away unmasked? Do I really have to disinfect the refrigerator door handle (again) after I absentmindedly opened it with hands that touched a disinfected doorknob? Did I just cut up that vegetable I brought in from the store without washing it with soap and water? The concerns are endless.
As the weeks went by, I realized my anxiety, worry, and fear came from desperately holding on to control over what is happening but not being able to.
The answer to how to handle all the news that is frightening to print is to give up control. I have control over certain things such as taking precautions. But I can’t eliminate all of the micro-particles of the COVID-19 universe when they can remain on surfaces for hours to days and in the air as well. Nor can I control what other people and other regions of the country and world do. The interdependence and interconnectedness of the world require us all to opt for the greater good, but I as an individual am pretty powerless to force other individuals to opt in.
I soon discovered how important it is to accept that all the precautions I take to minimize being infected are simply enough. And if they aren’t and I’ve done my best, there is nothing else I can do about it. And, it’s about accepting that because the virus is new and its information is ever-evolving, I won’t know what I wish to know ahead of time. I have to give up the need to have all the answers right now. It is about accepting the unknown and thriving in spite of it.
I can find some other way to be okay. I don’t have to look for it in this virus.
The following video is a Spiritual Massage that performs “rebraining” to replace old patterns of anxiety, worry, and fear with calm and serenity: