Unexpected anxiety at this stage of the COVID-19 situation

Find the audio version of this post on your favourite podcast app: Inspiritment from Jo Koepke

I expected the anxiety and stress that came as the virus arrived in our city and decisions needed to be made. I anticipated the stress that was threatening while trying to work increased hours and homeschool. The brewing anxiety that hit in the past week caught me off guard. I am so grateful that the situation in my city seems to be easing significantly and the restrictions are slowly being rolled back. I should be celebrating. Instead, I am processing this unexpected anxiety. Maybe I’m not the only one?

I have reflected on this for myself. It is helpful to figure out what is driving the fear. Being at home as a family has quickly become ‘normal’ and feels safe. Don’t get me wrong- there have been incredibly tough moments and it hasn’t all been smooth but it is my current comfort zone. Just as the changes that initially came with the pandemic disrupted my status quo, the changes that are happening now are shifting my comfort levels.

What I will miss

I will deeply miss the slow pace of life and the concentrated family time together. I will miss being a part of my daughter’s learning (although will not miss the meltdowns that came with it!). This is an opportunity to change what normal life looks like to include those elements in a greater way. Being out amongst people again feels risky, even though the risk here in my city is minimal and we are still being cautious while out. I could dwell on all the things that heighten my anxiety right now.

Instead, I choose to focus on what I am looking forward to as restrictions lift. Some of these things will be in the next few weeks. Some may not be for several more months. The shift in focus changes my perspective and releases stress.

What I am looking forward to

In no particular order:

  • Quiet, focused work time
  • My daughter’s excitement at being with her friends after 7 weeks with no playmates
  • Hugging my parents and grandparents
  • Hugging my friends
  • Sitting in a cafe with a good coffee and my laptop
  • Swimming laps in my local pool
  • Being in church together
  • Family holiday interstate
  • Getting to meet face to face with fellow MOPS leaders
  • Pursuing opportunities to speak and encourage others
  • Releasing a role I chose to pick back up again for this season
  • Taking the growth I’ve experienced and building on it
  • Launching a leadership coaching program for teens with Lead Different

The impact of writing this list is immediate. I feel my focus shift, my mood lift and the stress melt away. I may need to remind myself of this in half an hour but I will savour this feeling right now. 

Maybe you can relate to that anxiety rising as you contemplate more changes ahead. I encourage you to make your own list. Take time to acknowledge what you will miss from this time. Reflect on how you might want to structure or run your life differently based on what you have experienced. Make a list of all that you are looking forward to in the short and long term. I didn’t let myself think on that in the early days as it made me more upset over what I was missing. Now, it feels like looking at the light growing at the end of the tunnel.