How to Reduce COVID Anxiety

Dawn Bevier

Knowledge is a good thing, but sometimes a lack of it is even better

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After two days in isolation, I called my school nurse due to severe headaches I thought may have been COVID-related.

I was tested and found negative, so I was back at work. I had no temperature, but the headaches were still coming, and I wanted to make sure I was not endangering other teachers by being back in the building.

She said not to worry, that it was probably migraines.

When she said this, it made sense. I’ve been holding my breath since last March. I think about COVID constantly. Like the passing of a loved one, I have mourned my old world since this nightmare began.

And as a high school teacher in a small North Carolina town that has remained virtual since this pandemic started, I consider myself extremely lucky.

Not being surrounded by fearless high school students eases my fear of being infected, and as a person with an anxiety disorder, it’s literally saved my mental health.

But parents are pushing to have their children back in school, and I know with a devastating amount of certainty that adolescents will soon shuffle back into my classroom.

And the only thing that has helped me hold it together was the hope that teachers would get vaccinated before this day came.

But when I was on the phone with the nurse, she said it could be late April or even May before teachers were offered vaccinations in my county. And the minute she said this, I felt the wind knocked out of me.

I wished I had never asked.

So at that moment, I decided to become ignorant about COVID. Not forever, mind you, but at least for a good long while. And maybe you should too.

Why you should be blissfully ignorant about COVID

You know what to do to protect yourself from this virus. I’m not sure if your area of the world calls it the “3 W’s,” but here is what you need to know, and I’m betting you already know it, don’t you?

  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces
  • Wear a mask
  • Watch to make sure you are six feet apart from others and avoid crowds

I’m also sure you are aware of most of the symptoms of this virus.

  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Dry coughing

There are more symptoms, but you know them all, don’t you? The warning signs are on every building you pass, any place you enter, or any media site on the web.

So how is any more knowledge going to help you? What will finding out depressing numbers do for you? Crush your spirit? Take away your hope? I’m sure that does wonders for your mental health and immune system.

In view of these facts, I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided I’m going to believe only what my mental health can manage.

The truth is if I choose to think it will be March rather than May when I get that glorious prick in the arm, I’ve spent two months in the arms of hope, and I’ve lived each of those days in a relative state of positivity.

And when March comes, if my optimistic beliefs are proven wrong, then I will believe in April, and eventually, I will make it to that glorious announcement that my time for this vaccine is at hand.

The reality is right now I need hope more than predictions. I need a hope resistant to depressing numbers or tragic stories.

And the only way I can keep myself immune from hopelessness is to be oblivious.

So guess what? I’m a teacher, and I am going to get my shot at the beginning of March.

Hold on. No comments. Don’t spout scientific articles or CDC experts.

Don’t need them. Don’t want them.

How to be ignorant about COVID

  • Do not watch the news to see when you will get the vaccine (okay, check with your health department regularly to see if it’s your time to sign up, but no news and no media allowed).
  • Do not scour the internet to find out about the new, highly contagious strand of COVID.
  • Do not research the COVID numbers or stats in your state, your county, or the United States in general.
  • When you see your friends bring up the subject, tune out. Walk away. Whatever it takes.

The bottom line:

Knowledge can be toxic. People’s opinions, scientific data, and the mountain of stats and numbers spread across today’s media many times do more harm than good.

The fact is knowledge is a benefit only if it helps you grow. If it doesn’t do that, don’t seek it out. It’s a much happier way to live your life.

So just for a while, choose to be ignorant of the future of COVID. No one really knows what’s going to happen anyway.

Enjoy the here and now. It’s all you can really control.

That brings another question to consider.

How should you spend all the free time you’ve gained from not listening to the pandemic poison that was destroying your well-being?

Spend it believing in the progress we’ve made. Spend it believing positive changes are coming. And don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

Why?

Because, as novelist George Eliot said, What we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.”

And right now, my hope is begging to be fed. If yours is too, please give it the nourishment it needs.

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Sanford, NC
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