Coping During a Crisis

Are you completely twisted inside out with this pandemic? I am, and I know I’m not alone. Our desires in life are generally to feel safe and protected, to love and be loved. Unfortunately, this new environment makes it a thousand times harder to feel any of these things. Every time we turn around it’s something different and terrifying; and at the same time every day is like Groundhog Day.

We are constantly bombarded with the sheer horror of the number of deaths… worrying about every random cough, not to mention every time our chest tightens due to anxiety. Hospitals have always been there to keep us healthy, and yet they are now the last place on earth we want to be. Going to the grocery store is an opportunity for the world to judge you: Did you wear a face mask? Did you stand 6 feet apart? Why did you bring your kids? Did you actually need those Twinkies?

We are living in isolation with ourselves and really, how much of ourselves can we stand? Oh, and let’s talk about those who are fortunate enough to be in isolation with others. Yes, those that we love more than anything, the ones we exchanged vows with, the ones that we gave birth to, the ones that if something were to happen to them we would die inside. These are the very people who now breathe wrong and we want to punch in the face.

Holy shit, it’s all true. All the conflicting emotions, all at the same time. I wake up every morning and in the first hour I am terrified, then find myself laughing at the irreverent memes; cherishing my quiet time, then wishing I could go into the office; thinking that all of this is ridiculous and then wondering why the government doesn’t do more to help. None of us knows how to process this or which way to turn, which is why we’re often turning to food.

When life is sharp and jagged, a pint of Haagen Dazs is always smooth and creamy. When we’re angry or bored, the mere act of opening a bag of chips and crunching away can feel like we’re actually accomplishing something. Mostly, we’re not even conscious of our emotions, because the moment they come up we tend to shut them down. They’re uncomfortable, right? Our brains (from the cave-person days) are wired to seek protection, safety and survival. It only makes sense that when we can’t get this in our regular, known ways, that we seek that outcome from food.

This may not seem like the best way to go, but it’s not the worst either. I want you to feel allowed to do this pandemic thing in whatever way you desire, and however it works for you. If using this extra time to get an extra workout in, that’s fantastic! If eating cookies allows you to get through the day, then give yourself a break and have some cookies. If you feel out of control with either over or under eating, then give yourself a break along with permission to own it without shame and seek out help if needed.

There is no right or wrong here, there is no dietary pandemic book. Maybe I’ll write one…about how to get beyond our fears and live our best and healthiest lives. Until then, we can only and very simply do our best. Some days that looks like a hard-core workout and some days that looks like a pizza. Take this time for yourself and just be. This is both easy and difficult – a reflection of life itself.

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