I am feeling discombobulated and not particularly useful at the moment. No one wants to read a travel writer’s blog in these days full of coronavirus disease [Covid-19]. We are all feeling confused and worried in different ways; some of us are concerned about elderly friends or relatives; some motorhomers are wondering whether to stay in Spain, Portugal or France or come home; we might worry about whether we washed our hands enough and why we can’t stop touching our faces [or is that just me?] and others are wondering where they can buy toilet roll or dried pasta. In this period of social distancing a full lock-down is only a matter of time and even though my fear of when this will happen doesn’t help, the fear remains. On top of this global apprehension, the campervan and motorhome community is arguing amongst itself about whether anyone can follow social distancing rules in a ‘van and what essential travel actually means. The only certainty is that very few people are looking ahead and planning holidays and trips away.
I am not alone in living during a time that just a few weeks ago seemed fairly humdrum, I was blogging about being a frustrated travel agent and also busy writing and planning my own campervan trips for the year. Those days seem very carefree and distant as uncertainty has mushroomed and I am finding this increasingly difficult to deal with. I am sure I am not alone in wishing that I knew how long this state of emergency was going to go on for. Last night we watched an episode of Countryfile from a few weeks ago, it was in many ways a calming escape to a world before all we thought about was a virus but as soon as we switched off the TV I remembered and the dread returned.
I long for the pandemic to be declared over, returning some stability to everyone’s lives but I realise that isn’t going to happen soon. It may be that we never return to how things were but I hope that eventually people will begin to look to the future with confidence again.
In addition, of course … and this is only a minor worry … I am also aware that if I can’t get away travelling and camping then I will have no income.
Please don’t think I am feeling sorry for myself. Although we are both over 60 years of age, we are both in good health and have every reason to feel confident that Covid-19 will make us poorly but not kill us … but as apparently we are all going to get Covid-19 eventually, if it is my time than I have had 60 good years. It is not for myself that I am anxious, what I dread is anyone across the world suffering unnecessarily and I fear for my close friends and relatives.
I Know that I am not alone in feeling anxious and fearful about the difficult and stormy future road ahead, so I am no expert but here are …
… My ideas for coping with coronavirus anxiety
- Although I have a strong need for information, too much news consumption is more than I can handle. Limiting my access to the news and Facebook does help to keep me on an even keel. I try hard to be aware of what is factual and what is conjecture and keep a reasonable perspective.
- In contrast, the social media that is supportive is Twitter. My Twitter friends for the most part keep me positive and are kind – thanks guys!
- I have always been an obsessive hand washer after too many years in the NHS and the annual infection control talk, so we are washing our hands thoroughly. We are maintaining social distance and keeping a check on our own health.
- While we will miss our tai chi classes, closed during this social distancing period, we keep practising most days. Tai chi is fantastic for focusing the mind and relaxation.
- I might not be sure when I will once again be able to travel to mainland Europe but at the moment I continue brushing up my German so that I am ready for when those borders open. This half an hour a day of language learning is time when I am not worrying about any end-of-the-world scenario.
- Reading is always my favourite relaxation and I have sought out uplifting and funny novels to get me through. This is not the time to read Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 – save this roller-coaster novel for happier times, although it has been haunting me this last two weeks. Instead I have been re-reading Magnus Mills and getting lost in his comedic and fantastical world and I have a Neil Gaiman on my reading pile.
- After living in a small village for 25 years I am accustomed to always keeping well-stocked kitchen cupboards and what might be stockpiling for some is my normal. We could live for a couple of weeks at least on the food in our house and yet I have to admit to a real fear about the shortages and I struggle to keep this in any kind of measured perspective. For example, as a bread maker we are down to our last two bags of flour and haven’t been able to buy more as the whole country appears to have taken to baking bread! While I am pleased everyone has discovered the joy of homemade bread, when I think about running out of flour I want to weep and I have to remind myself that at the moment we continue to eat well on healthy home-cooked food.
- We are keeping in touch with friends and family, making sure everyone is coping and keeping the love and care flowing between us.
- It might be twee but I count my blessings, knowing I am so lucky to live with my wonderful partner in the amazing town of Morecambe with the sea and the bay only down the road. We get out for some fresh air every day which helps my mental health and my sleeping.
- I am not naive, I know that everything will not be okay in the short-term but I try and make myself step back and give myself space to reflect on what the numbers of cases and deaths and the shortages of essential items actually means and why they are making me feel so anxious. With effort I can think it through, sort out the speculation from the facts, calm my brain and remember that this too will pass.
What are your own tips for avoiding overwhelming anxiety?
All in all, this seems like the right time for me to take a short break from travel blogging, although I might try and conjure up some light-hearted content in the near future.
Take care everyone, stay kind and we’ll catch up soon.