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COVID-19 & My Social Anxiety

by Weegee Sachtjen
COVID-19 and Social Anxiety

I was working the early morning shift on September 11, 2001. I was there when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and for the next 16 hours.

When news happens, the entire station goes into breaking news mode. We are geared to push through tiredness, hunger and even our anxiety with the goal of getting information, news and data to the people who need it. To the people who want it.

However, with the bigger news, there is an event. The long days become a bit shorter as the information, updates become a bit less frequent. The topics shift to the stories of those impacted and to recovery.

It doesn’t remain at this heightened sense of urgency.

Coronavirus hovered in the peripheral of the news for a bit before stepping into the spotlight. It has captured the world’s awareness and has added a bit of urgency to all of our lives.

It has been a major factor in my life since early March. At least a month. I haven’t had a huge event and it hasn’t transitioned. In fact, our little community is hearing the rumble before the storm. We haven’t had any cases (other than travel-related) and there has been no community spread.

But that doesn’t alleviate the anxiety but rather increases it within me.

I feel like my body’s already over-reactive alert system has been in overdrive. I am overly concerned with physical distancing or even casual run-ins while on my daily walk. My nerves are tight when I have to go into a grocery store or put on my mask to drop off my recycling.

I have always suffered from social anxiety or the fear of doing something wrong or embarrassing in public and the fear of spreading a virus that I don’t have but maybe don’t know it is taking that anxiety to a whole new level.

Add to that is the fact that the information and data coming from health officials was changing daily for the first couple of weeks. The list of don’t grew as new information was processed. What worked one day was not allowed the next. The information we get today will change how we interacted yesterday and will be outdated by tomorrow.

You would think I would be a puddle on the floor.

However, there is one thing that gives me a sense of calm. There is one thing that makes it easier for me to go about my essential tasks and trips to the grocery store.

“We are all doing the best we can.” It’s a lesson I learned from author Brene Brown in her book “Rising Strong.”

By believing we are all doing the best we can, and that includes me, it means I don’t have to know everything right now. It means that things will change and I will make decisions and choices based upon this new information. It means that I trust myself to be able to make good choices.

Anxiety is only alleviated by action. By making the hard decisions and living with the choices. By stepping up and doing the best we can.

I can do this. We can do this. Together . . . . and six feet apart. Wash your hands.

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