Covid-19 & Healthy Anxiety

Covid-19 & Healthy Anxiety

Published On: March 17, 2020

Several weeks ago my wife was at a baby shower for her sister and two days later she woke up in the middle of the night with the flu (I’m assuming you know how we figured that out).  Later that day, we found out her sister, brother-in-law, and mom all ended up with it along with seven others from the party.  This was a particularly nasty flu that lasted longer than the usual 24 hours.  While my wife was sick, I helped where I could, but basically continued on with my life almost as if I was impenetrable.  Our two year old daughter soon caught it (that was an unpleasant discovery), but I remained healthy.  I’ve always been a good hand washer (like we all should be) and became a little cocky about how I was able to not get sick… guess who was proven wrong? The next week I was at the gym and I started sweating while standing still, which was strange because I’m not that out of shape.  I tried to convince myself I was fine, but thirty minutes later when I was at home I was proven wrong (and not in a subtle way).  That first day was the worst I’ve ever had the flu and the next day I was still not over it, but again I was a bit cocky telling myself I’d recover quicker than everyone else (can you tell I’m a typical competitive male; I’m even competitive with being sick).  After two days of not eating anything minus a piece of toast, I was feeling a little hungry and my wife’s lasagna was looking really good.  Shortly after eating it, I realized my stomach liked the look of the noodles and sauce of the lasagna, but apparently beef and dairy, which are harder to digest, make an upset tummy super angry.  Once again, my arrogance to think I was recovered faster than others cost me.

This situation points out two valuable lessons for dealing with the current COVID-19 problem.  What I did right was fulfill my responsibilities and help my wife and daughter without shunning them and be paranoid that I’d get sick as well.  I stayed level headed.  What I did wrong, however, was I thought I was impenetrable.  I got a bit arrogant and didn’t step up my precautions like disinfect things my sick wife and daughter touched.  Learning from my situation, this is what we need to be doing with COVID-19: We want to be smart, but not get carried away by fear and anxiety.  What’s getting carried away? Needing police in grocery stores directing people and my friend having toilet paper stolen from his car.  We need to find the line between no fear and anxiety versus panic.  It’s this happy middle where we are cautious to a point, but we carry on in a healthy way.

Like all emotions, fear and anxiety are meant to protect us.  The great thing about them is they can enhance our awareness making us sharper and quicker to respond.  They help athletes step up their game in the playoffs and they help comedians have great one-liners on the spot they wouldn’t have been able to write sitting at their desk.  Fear and anxiety help motivate us to plan ahead and be prepared for possible bad situations.   At a certain point, however  they can make us dumb.  When our fear and anxiety levels get heightened too high, we’re more likely to say and do things we wouldn’t normally do.  Some people lash out and fight while others turtle.  For instance, my wife comes from a background where the best defence is a good offense (that can be fun) while I come from a background where you apologize at any hint of someone being slightly upset (that can be annoying).

During this time I may be at an age where I’ll be fine if I get the virus, but I can handle a few weeks of lying low in order to reduce traffic and limit the possible spread.  After all, having the freedom to still go out but choosing to stay in is much better than being forced to be quarantined for at least two weeks.  We all need to avoid being arrogant and taking foolish chances because our hospital systems can’t handle the influx of patients.  As one health official said, if you’re not someone at risk and you have symptoms, don’t get tested; simply isolate yourself and let those who actually need the help receive it – don’t clog the hospitals.  More importantly, we need to be smart and not add to the panic that others are feeling.  Actually, what’s most important is not being one of those jerks who are buying desired products like diapers in order to resell later.  Those people need to be given a fine.  Taking advantage of others in a time of need has to be one of the lowest things someone can do.  Just because you can make a profit, does not mean it’s something you should pursue – have some integrity.

Over the next few weeks, may this be a time where you try a new hobby, learn something different, and connect with loved ones on a deeper level as we try to stay home and limit going out.

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