The anxiety of grocery shopping

I have never been a fan of grocery shopping. In fact, I usually put it off until my family is asking me, did you happen to go to the store yet? When they are well aware that I haven’t.

Generally, I shop once a month for a big shopping trip, and every 10-12 days run out for fresh veggies, milk, eggs, and bread. That is the way I have been for years.

Four weeks ago, when quarantine practice started, I had just gone to the store. Today I had to go. I had been putting it off for a couple of days, but I knew that today was the day. Can I just tell you how anxious I was about going?

I am a bit higher risk because of an autoimmune disorder, and asthma. I also need to be careful because I go to my parents’ house every night to help get my father ready for bed as he’s on hospice and mom can’t do it alone anymore. Needless to say, I am very careful about exposure, and have remained home. Not that it’s hard for me to stay home, I have been working from home for the last 3 years.

So this morning, I was up early. I made sure to take my decongestant immediately when I got up. I have horrible allergies and spend a couple hours every morning coughing it away as my sinus settle. I didn’t want everyone to freak out if I coughed at the store. One cup of coffee, and I was out the door.

7:00 a.m. they let the general public in. I had on my mask, and I also wore gloves. They say that you don’t need to wear gloves, but I have a very severe allergy to Latex – so if someone who HAS been wearing latex gloves, touches something that I then touch – I can react to it – it’s a major pain in the (you know what!). Hence the reason I wore NITRILE gloves.

Another reason they tell people not to wear gloves is they don’t understand that if you touch something with your gloves on – they are instantly contaminated and give you a false sense of protection. My years as a cop doing evidence work and also being around blood and body fluids helped teach me the proper way to wear gloves.

When I arrived a nice young may wiped down my cart for me as I waited patiently and chatted with him from my safe distance of 6′, and then inside I went.

It’s a maze in there. I mean seriously, it was a maze, but they were nice enough to give you arrows so that you know the correct direction to follow. I found it rather humorous to see everyone staring at the floor as they went to make sure they were going in the right direction, and once, a man was going in the wrong direction and a woman growled at him. Not sure what she said, but he frowned, you could see the low eyebrows over the bandana covering his face and he quickly turned and went in the “correct” direction.

Shopping was rather easy, and I was lucky that just about everything I needed was available. Of course, the holier-than-thou toilet paper aisle was empty, and the cleaners section was pretty sparse. Pasta and rice were low, and clothing detergent was almost gone.

What I really want to know is how were people cleaning their back sides, and clothing before? I mean seriously!

I did do my own checkout and walked out of there with a cart full of groceries. Satisfied that I will be able to feed my family for another month.

Hand sanitizer up to my elbows before I get in my car, (which has been inside the pocket of my track pants), checked my phone because I had left it in the car. No reason to get it contaminated. I had only brought my credit card into the store to pay. That got wiped down with sanitizer too.

Back home, everything was brought in and either put in the fridge/freezer or stacked on a shelf to sit there for two days before it gets put away. I showered and then I sanitized the counters – the handles of cabinets, doors, gates and then the inside of my car.

Almost three hours later, I finally got to pour myself a second cup of coffee, and I could feel the anxiety draining from my shoulders. All in all, it wasn’t horrible, but I hate that this is our new “norm”, and it looks to stay that way for a while.

With that said, if you can stay home – stay home. Play games, watch every movie you ever dreamed of watching, read – listen to audio books and spend time with family!

I hope you all remain safe and healthy!

The Top 5 Most Stressful Experiences: A Lesson from a Pup

Experts tell us that the Top Five Most Stressful times in life are:

  1. Death of a loved one
  2. Divorce
  3. Moving
  4. Major illness
  5. Job loss

And any combination of the five, or added stress from another source, can only make matters worse.

476384_4161496656214_67194810_oApparently, not only humans recognize that relocation is traumatic. (It’s #3!) My daughter has a pug in her menagerie. When I arrived at her new house to help her unpack, she (my daughter, not the pug) looked a little disoriented but was putting up a brave effort. It was the little dog that reminded us of how we humans felt. Poor little fellow was hyperventilating big time.

Joe’s big soulful pug eyes were bulging with terror, and he kept staggering around in circles, trying to catch his breath. It wasn’t until we sat down with him in the middle of the empty room (furniture hadn’t yet arrived) that he slowly calmed down, sprawled on the carpet beside us and, apparently, began to accept the idea that this was his new home.

The humans took a little longer to adjust. What had been planned as an easy, one-day move was quickly reformulated as a one-week move. Truck rentals were extended. Unpacking and cleaning rescheduled on a more realistic time frame. Slowly, blood pressures lowered.

Sometimes human beings need to take a lesson from our animal friends. Sudden changes can send us into a panic. Our bodies and emotions overload. We need to make fewer demands on ourselves during these times and just…take it easy.

Granted, there is a lot in life that we can’t control. Death, the loss of love or deteriorating health or even keeping a job–are all too often the challenges we face with the most difficulty. But if there is a way we can give ourselves a little breathing room, the time and patience to recover, it can help.

When life gets complicated and comes at us in a way that knocks the wind out of us, that isn’t the time to put yourself on a schedule and demand that we “get over it” and move on. Whether mourning a loved one, acclimating to a new home, healing after being ill, or finding a new job–we sometimes need to just sit still and let the newness of the experience sink in. We have to learn to breathe again, to trust ourselves and the future. Yes, things will be different from now on. But we definitely will be okay. Right, Joe?

Your friend, Kathryn

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I guess stress is one reason I love to write fiction. Escaping into a story helps me take life a little less seriously, or at least understand that others have faced challenges just as difficult as my own. If you want to share my escape plan and chill out with me someday, you might want to check out one of my novels. Here’s one of my favorites.