Over the past few weeks, I’ve been infected with coronavirus anxiety. So far, nobody I know has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but everybody I know is talking about it. My office is in New York City, although I’m fortunate enough to be working from home in Maine right now.
Yet I was in the office just 10 days ago for an entire week. And I visited a college on Long Island with my son a few days before that. That college has moved to online classes in the past few days. My office is sending at least weekly updates about coronavirus policies. And I’m freaking out.
I struggle with anxiety on my best days. I’ve written before about experiencing what I call “emotional sunburn.” (That’s knowing I may be overreacting to something small, but also feeling it with such emotional intensity that it hurts.) Well, the sun is beating down hard on me these days, and I’m feeling it as intense anxiety.
But I also have school-age children who learn and think differently and are prone to anxiety. So I’ve been trying to figure out how not to transfer my anxiety to them. I’m not sure I’m doing a great job at it, but I’m trying hard. I don’t want to send them the message that fear should take over here.
I’ve tried to quell my anxiety by reading everything I can about coronavirus. That hasn’t really helped much, to be honest. But I did come across a few things that helped me refocus, including this piece about how to deal with coronavirus if you have anxiety or OCD.
I’m finding other ways to push through and talk to my kids about this in a way that shares I’m worried, but not in a full-blown panic.
For example, something else that helped me was Wash Your Lyrics, a website that generates a handwashing poster based on your favorite song lyrics.
My 10-year-old son and I have had some fun with that. We can now wash our hands to The Beatles, Taylor Swift, and Elton John. The good news is he’s washing his hands without prompting. I’m not anxiously telling him to wash his hands every time he comes in the door anymore. He’s doing it on his own and, by all accounts, is singing and handwashing at school, too.
Another musical tip came from a friend. She suggested I sing the words “COVID-19” to the tune of “Come on Eileen.” At first, I thought it was ridiculous, but then I added the line, “it helps me to sing.” See if it calms your anxiety a little, too.
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