COVID-19-induced ‘closure’ anxiety

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

I have invented a new anxiety: COVID-19 Closure Anxiety. Over the past few days as discussions take flight regarding a return to whatever will be our new normal, I keep getting the feeling that I should have accomplished more during these 34 days I have been self-quarantined and feeling anxious that I haven’t.

It doesn’t make any sense for me, as I have been lucky enough to keep just over half the workload I have during a normal March and April. There has been considerable juggling of duties and priorities, but I have worked most days, albeit for fewer hours.

Somehow you just don’t “feel” as busy when you aren’t stopping to run here or there. And meetings take less time in Zoom, as do doctor and other consultation-type appointments. I keep thinking I had this big block of stay-at-home time and have nothing to show for it.

So, this week, I started doing some “stuff” and self-analyzing what the problem is. The main problem with my Closure Anxiety is that it isn’t based in reality, as I haven’t had that much free time.

But I have learned that the second problem is that “free time” wasn’t the missing piece of the “To Do” list I have in my mind. Here’s what I mean: I found time to add in the things I really enjoy.

  • I have been cooking more. I love to cook but never seem to “have time.” Found time for that.
  • I have been calling and catching up with friends beyond Facebook. It’s been so good to hear voices, to have actual back-and-forth conversations and to catch up. Found time for that.
  • I hate my cluttered email, so I bulk-trashed thousands. Found time for that.
  • I untangled and organized my necklaces and matched-up all my socks, throwing away the singles. Found time for that.
  • I started organizing my digital photo library and may find a little more time for that.

Most of the list, however, has been relegated back to that To Do list, and now I’m feeling anxious that I have nothing to show for these odd days. I didn’t organize my pantry, clean out my cabinets, sort through old clothes, clean off my bookshelves. Anything even remotely near the “housekeeping” category did not make it to the top of the COVID-19 At Home accomplishments. They didn’t even get a start.

I didn’t start writing a book or return to my poetry-writing days. I didn’t plant anything. I didn’t start an exercise program or learn to speak Spanish. I didn’t do weekly facial masks. I didn’t organize my DVDs or my CDs. I didn’t download my favorite songs to my digital playlist.

Turns out time wasn’t the problem.

I don’t approve of self-induced anxiety and don’t like guilt, so here’s my cure: I am doing the most important two things during this time at home. I am taking care of myself and others, as much as I can, and I am keeping a positive attitude.

The rest can just stay on the list. Maybe someday…


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