With more lockdown ahead, here are some tips to dial down the worry

We’re living in a higher state of concern right now. But irate worry isn’t good for anyone. Jo Dunbar gives us some coping strategies.

By Jo Dunbar

Going to buy groceries happens as infrequently as possible, one daily walk is, so far, condoned and families are living and working under one roof. But one of the hardest things to adjust to as we isolate ourselves is the freedom to check in on family, whether popping by or arranging a visit. My parents are both over 70 and live 250 miles away. Even if they were just around the corner, I couldn’t see them, but the confusion surrounding when I will see them again doesn’t help my general anxiety surrounding lockdown. So far, they remain healthy. But the stark reality is, even if they were to become unwell, I’d be completely helpless and unable to offer any assistance.

However, I’ve come to accept that stressing and creating long-distance worry won’t help. It’s a basic fact that we cannot continue to function in a state of high panic. We are almost a week into lockdown and worry for my parents, along with frustration at the situation itself, has become second nature.

My attitude towards life in lockdown is to take things day by day. Some self-care rituals are becoming part of my daily routine: enjoying the Spring weather; exercising once a day and trying to change my attitude to slow living. I am also avoiding too much news and social media and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine: a good book and even better hand cream (to alleviate all the handwashing).

I know I’m not alone in missing and worrying about family and I’m trying to employ my day-by-day mantra here, too. Whether it’s a quick message to check-in or ringing my mum so her grandsons can speak to her after they’ve finished their schoolwork at the kitchen table; little and often seems best. A sad fact of life in isolation is that we don’t have masses of news to swap so marathon phone calls aren’t really necessary. The arrival of a global health crisis did, however, prompt my mum to finally join WhatsApp.

My in-laws, on the other hand, live nearby, but we are relying on Zoom for virtual catch-ups, clutching glasses of wine and beer. Friends have gone a step further, initiating pub-style quizzes with their extended family.

We’ve gone the other way, too. We’ve written postcards and exchanged letters. Receiving things in the post prolongs the joy a bit more than a WhatsApp message, provides an activity for housebound children and, hopefully, when this is all over, we’ll have some souvenirs of a trying time.

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