The Grocery Store: The new bastion of anxiety

I have friends that have nearly all of their food delivered to them. They started that years before the current pandemic and for the most part they are happy with how it’s turned out. According to them, it saves them time and eliminates the “hassle” of going shopping. Now “hassle” is a curious term. What exactly is the hassle they refer? Finding the items you want? Other people? Traffic?

Well given our current world circumstances I found an article here that outlines some of the current “hassles” we have now.

From the article: “Things go awry when multiple problems converge at once,” says Stephanie Preston, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “At the grocery store, first off, you’re anxious about being able to get the supplies you want. And then the idea of fighting over resources is extremely aversive, so you have internal conflict, and that’s anxiety-producing in turn.”

It’s unfortunate how anxiety works. A seed is planted in your mind and you then extrapolate out multiple scenarios in which that seed grows to a vine that will choke you to death. The likelihood of you having a negative experience at a grocery store is low, but with everyone in a heightened anxious state, its seems more likely now than ever.

The article is well written, if not satirical at times which can be grating. That said it’s a decent piece in the sense that the aim of the article appears to be to extend understanding to those who have serious anxiety issues and need grace.

We are all going to have to manage as best we can. You can have delivery of just about anything these days but sometimes you do have to venture out. Remember that you aren’t alone, millions of people suffer from anxiety. People are scared, you will get odd looks, someone might comment to you, they may go the other way when you approach.

Hang in there, you are doing awesome. Take one day at a time, one event at a time and you will make it.

Anxiety Medication Prescriptions spike in March

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone but the pandemic has created a perfect storm of anxiety. The constant drum beat of fear along with the very real sickness that some people get has propelled many people into the realm of anxiety. The worst part of this is the people who already had crippling anxiety and were already on medications. It’s not like you can take twice the dose for twice the relief….

Anyway I found an article here confirming this subject

From the article: “The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts to contain it, represent a unique threat, and we must recognize the pandemic that will qickly follow it—that of mental and behavioral illness—and implement the steps needed to mitigate it,” the authors wrote.”

How true is that? Now the article itself is fairly short and does give you the statistics of how much some of the categories of drugs have increased. There isn’t anything here that is going to be an epiphany for you most likely.

If you suffer from anxiety you know the deal, you’re taking one day at a time already. What happens 6 months from now? Will we have a flood of new people that suffer from anxiety and depression? The likely answer is yes. Yes there will be more people anxious and it’s going to lead to, in the short term, a bulge in the treatment world as mental health resources haven’t increased commensurate with this pandemic.

In the long term there is some potential positives. As dark as this may seem, the more people seeking help for anxiety related issues creates a demand side situation. That means at some point supply for that demand, AKA more treatment options will manifest themselves. That’s good for all of us. We need more people talking about anxiety and talking about treatments. We need a larger piece of our health insurance economy to be devoted to mental health issues. Here is hoping that we get that as a result of the Corona pandemic.

The key here is to hang on. Right now is like a rollercoaster, and it’s a brutal ride but you are harmed the most when you try and get off the ride in the middle. Hang in there, take one day at a time and remember you aren’t alone.

You are doing awesome.

Top 3 Financial tips for people with Anxiety during the pandemic

So before I get going the normal disclaimer. If you follow my blog you know I have been in the finance field for nearly 30 years (yikes!). Every finance tip I post here are my opinion, and should you chose to act on these tips you are 100% responsible for the outcome. That said, common sense and simplicity is always the best way to do financial planning. Trust your gut….

  1. Don’t look at your investments: If you have them, don’t look at them right now. The last thing you want to do is react to an extraordinary circumstance. This isn’t a normal environment and these types of events happen multiple times over a life investment cycle. As an example when I was starting my investments we had the first Iraq war and it disrupted the market. Making moves now when there are wide fluctuations in the economy is a bad idea. Hang tight, let the storm pass.
  2. Work on your personal economy with this time off: It’s likely you are home like the rest of us. This is a great time to set aside 15-30 min a week to focus on your finances. Here is what I do, Saturday morning from 10-11 I work on my personal finances. Pay bills, check balances, work on my budget, review my retirement planning. ONCE A WEEK. Please don’t tell me you don’t have the time, make it, even after all this passes. If you do this, consistently, over time you will have a complete grasp on your finances, you will be organized and it’s such a relief when you get to that point.
  3. Plan your comeback: When this pandemic passes, we are all going to have to get back out there in an economy that is a shell of what it was. Politics aside, it’s hard to argue that before the pandemic hit the economy was humming long REALLY well, the number don’t lie. Millions of people have lost their job, maybe you are one of them. You have to be ready to come out of this FAST. Update your resume, identify companies you want to work, keep In touch with your professional network.

In my lifetime I have seen several events like this that have had dramatic impacts on the economy. One of my first memories as a kid was sitting in a gas line with my father. You could only buy gas on certain days of the week, unemployment was high, inflation was through the roof. The market always bounced back and the economy always seems to fix itself. You should take some of this time you have to position yourself for the rebound. Remember this will pass, and before you know it will be 2021.

Whatever you do, take your time, use commonsense and always obtain as much information as you can before making financial decisions.

Beyond the Trees

A Silver Lining to the Pandemic ?

Finding positives has been challenging given the environment we are all in currently. Not only that but being a blogger in the Anxiety space makes it doubly so. That said we have a few silver linings here. One of them is that more and more people are talking about anxiety issues. Specifically many outlets have been featuring pieces on Anxiety and Depression as it pertains to the isolation conditions we are in now.

Last post I showed you an example of a negative media portrayal of anxiety. Here is a positive.

From the article: “In fact, that’s exactly what I want to talk about: anxiety and other mental health conditions that untold millions of individuals deal with every day— conditions that can affect their job performance, physical wellbeing and personal happiness. These sometimes-debilitating conditions existed long before COVID-19 enveloped the planet—and they’ll exist long after the virus is tamed and life, to some degree, starts returning to normal.”

This is great news, the narrative is beginning to emerge that mental illness has to be addressed in the present. Yes we have had events occur that have pushed this narrative before to little result but this pandemic is affecting everyone. Sadly, I suspect as this drags on more and more people are going to develop anxiety disorders, or reveal ones they already had.

The silver lining here is the more light that is shone on the issue the broader acceptance it receives and under normal conditions positive outcomes occur. I often come back to economics when I give examples but this is similar to a demand side issue. When things get back to normal, there will be higher demand for anxiety related services.

For those of us who have suffered with it for years that equates to more options at some point in the future as supply of service catches up. I think you will see far more resources devoted to helping people with anxiety from private instructions. Employers in particular would likely want to have a robust mental health benefits package to ensure productivity of staff and place people in positions to be successful.

We have ample resources (albeit not perfect) to deal with regular physical malady that people get. We need a bit of a catch up for mental health issues and this pandemic might be the catalyst that does it. Ya I’m feeling optimistic today, things will get better, you are doing awesome, one day at a time.


A quick rant on how some outlets cover stress & anxiety.

So as many of you know I read a lot online. There are great resources for people with anxiety it’s completely worth your time looking for them. That said there is plenty of dubious news online around anxiety. It’s part of the capitalization of the corona virus. Now again, I want to stress there are plenty of great resources out there but be careful what you read and what you take to heart.

As an example there are articles like the one I found here that are simply fluff pieces.

From the article: “In one study of 30,000 Americans, those who had the highest levels of stress were 43 percent more likely to die only if they also believed that stress was bad for their health. In contrast, those who experienced high stress but didn’t view it as harmful were the least likely to die compared to any other group in the study — including people who experienced very little stress.”

Seems harmless right? Now if you look at it closely, the entire paragraph is constructed around one idea, that how you view stress determines your outcome.  If that wasn’t obvious in of itself it assumes that you have the ability to dictate how stress impacts you.

The great failing of articles like this is they fail to make the logical leap to the cascading effect of stress. It can lead to anxiety, which can lead to depression. It assumes that you have the ability to “view” stress in more than one way. Not everyone does. Stress is like a gateway, and ya I suppose if you can think of it differently at the outside the gateway leads to another path.

If you can’t the path moves you forward and once you step through the gateway it’s incredibly difficult to step backward and embark on the alternative route. Essentially this article boils stress down to a simple concept of how you chose to look at it. If it were only that simple, if only millions of us didn’t already have anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. Yes, then this would be simple I would think differently and have a different outcome.

I’m going to try that with pain next, I’m going to stub my toe and think that the pain is really an orgasm.

I know we went pg-13 there for a minute but if I could just think differently don’t you think I would have tried that? I shouldn’t be too critical here, coverage I a positive thing and more outlets talking about stress and anxiety is a net positive. Perhaps I am being too cynical but my instinct tells me that many of these articles are attempts to capitalize on a pandemic, which is sinister IMHO.

Surviving 2020 & covid

The Challenge of creating content

If you have been here for a while you know how I operate, I post Monday Wednesday and Friday and the subjects vary often but 90% of the time tie into anxiety stress and depression. You also know the format for most of my material that directly pertains to anxiety. I find articles and news stories and give you the link, a quote from the article that is relevant, my view on it and a summary.

A fairly straight forward writing technique and simple blog. Since the virus has broken out worldwide I have been hard pressed to find good news stories that don’t directly tie into the pandemic. Oh don’t get me wrong there is no shortage of stories on anxiety…. It’s just the context is all the same, the Corona Virus.

It would be simple for me to recite and direct you via multiple blog posts. You would think for an anxiety blogger this would be a golden opportunity to blog more about the subject. I have and will have my fair share of Corona posts have no fear. That said there is a deluge of data out there now, the virus coverage is everywhere.

It would be like standing outside and pointing to the sky and saying “It’s blue” everyone gets it, its serious business. If you have anxiety you are already triggered there isn’t a whole lot I can do to alieve this for you. One more place to read a story about Corona anxiety will likely increase your anxiety. What’s the point of this post then?

I really don’t know, it’s a little bit of a rant I suppose. I can’t do my normal content, I am overwhelmed myself with this virus and everywhere I look its front and center. I understand why, I understand it drives clicks. I mean I have anxiety myself I know how an anxious mind works. You want to satiate the need, you want to click one more thing so you don’t miss anything.

Most of what you see and read is the same thing over and over just packaged differently. I want you to be assured I am doing well here on my end, everyone is healthy but we are all home. I will endeavor to continue to look for good material to blog on. It’s honestly been the hardest time for me to be creative the last few weeks, I am not in my normal routine and it’s created the effect of hibernation to a degree.

I am at home in sweats trying to do some work. It’s been going poorly and I don’t have a lot to offer which sucks to no end. I have a couple of nutrition pieces I’d like to do. When I started this blog I did several nutrition pieces. My mind is racing though and it’s not landing on anything in particular. It’s cold, rainy, everything is closed, and I am uninspired. This will pass, and I just have to hang in there and so do you.

One day at a time is what I keep telling myself, half of this day is over.

5 Positives outcomes for me during the Virus

I know, another piece on the virus… Well it’s on my mind and since I produce all the posts on this blog that’s what you get LOL. I have had some positive outcomes from this virus crisis. For the record, I am not sick. I also live in an area that is under a state shutdown, meaning non-essential businesses have been closed.  

  1. I am drinking less coffee. While this was never my goal it’s certainly a bi product. At work I had access to as much coffee as I wanted, here at home not so much. 
  2.  I am looking at screens a lot less. At work I have dual screens and on one I sometimes stream pod casts and or listen to the news.  
  3. I’m doing things around the house I normally wouldn’t. Lots of laundry, a door knob replaced, and old CD’s/DVD’s gone through and vetted. No I don’t have any VHS , and if you know what that is hello gen xer 🙂  
  4. Talked to my family more. They aren’t freaking out but many look to me for leadership as the “old man”. We are hanging in there pretty well. We have a family poker game at 7PM tonight. 
  5. I am hanging out with my dog more. She is thrilled to have all of us home at one time, we are her pack after all.  

So there are bright spots to be had here if you look for them. I’m trying to focus on the items I can control and not get too hung up on the crush of negativity all around. This will pass, when? I don’t know if I did I would tell you. I suspect by May 1 we will be back to a somewhat normal routine. This pandemic is unusual compared to the last one.  

Yes the last one in 2009 the swine flu. There is way more caution now than before I’m not sure how I feel about it but yes in 2009 swine flu was designated as a pandemic. I’m not thrilled with governments closing down businesses, I do understand why they are doing it, and the strategy should work to “flatten the curve”.  

That said, I hope in the end we haven’t harmed ourselves fiscally too much. Until the dust settles I’m looking for all the positives I can find. 


Quarantine Is Hell for People With Anxiety Disorders

I am trying not to be swallowed up by Corona virus, yet I look at my posts and I am posting more and more about it. This has become one of the biggest triggers for anxiety I can remember and that’s saying something. Like everyone else I am dealing with it as best I can, but I am obsessed with worry of losing my job.

That’s my particular worry, I’m sure you have one as well. On top of that I have 2 people in my life “self quarantining” ugh. I’m working from home, schools are closed, most everything is closed. Its not yet hell for me but I’m starting to feel the walls closing in a little bit. Found a decent article here about quarantine and people with anxiety disorders.

From the article:

“Treating anxiety, depression, or other diagnoses like PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction also often requires physical connection. People diagnosed with depression are told to reach out — to doctors, to friends. They’re encouraged to go outside, see loved ones, drag themselves to yoga, the gym, happy hour, AA meetings.

Now, with millions under quarantine, that treatment isn’t safe — at least, not for the moment.”

Isnt that the truth! So many of the mechanisms we have to alieve ourselves of depression and anxiety have been removed. For good cause mind you, Im not bitching (to much) about everything closing down. That said people with anxiety disorders are left to their own devices in many cases.

I don’t know where you fall on the spectrum I would say I am mild to very mild. My issue is intrusive thoughts but for those of you out there who have severe anxiety issues you are in my thoughts. I wish I had some stellar advice here to help you through this unprecedented time, I truly don’t.

I have a couple of things I do, maybe it will help you. I play video games, I know “Karac you are 50 years old” yes well its my hobby and a fantasy world to escape too. I sleep more. I watch shows on amazon prime (trying to figure out how I can watch Vikings season 1-5, I think its on there).

Find something, anything. You can get through this even if you are quarantine. If you can come out of the otherside of this unscathed, and yes this will end eventually, you will be stronger for it.

Hang in there, you are doing great. One day at a time.

Can cooking help with anxiety?

I don’t know about you but food gives me great comfort. Thankfully I am not overweight anymore, LOL. Cooking can in some cases be stressful, particularly when you are bingeing but cooking is one of the things, in some form, we all have to do. In my travels around the web I found a good article here

From the Article: “There hasn’t been a lot of research related specifically to cooking and anxiety, but a 2018 review article in the journal Health Education & Behavior looked at several small studies and found some interesting links. Cooking seemed to increase self-esteem and improved psychological well-being; it also appeared to decrease anxiety and agitation in a variety of people, including burn victims and those with dementia.”

The concept is, if you are cooking a meal the time you spend in preparation requires you to focus on the task at hand pushing out intrusive thoughts. Also, and perhaps more importantly it helps you build confidence and self esteem as you are creating something new from something old.

I know that to some people that might be a stretch but you start with a counter full of ingredients and you finish with a new dish that *hopefully* tastes good. Cooking can be really fun, particularly when you try new things. As an example when was the last time you had parsnips?

Since many of us are trapped at home perhaps now is a good time to have a cooking night. A night where you actually prepare a meal from scratch. This will give you something to focus on, and something to take you away from the news of the day which is a constant barrage of negativity in my opinion.

Any little thing helps right? You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

Couple of Financial tips during the Corona crisis

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a finance professional and have been for nearly 30 years. The stock market has crashed, countries are banning assembly of people, companies are having people work from home. Yes this is a crisis, how long it will last is anyone’s guess. If you have anxiety like I do, one of the things we are thinking about is our personal economic situation. Here are 5 things for you to think about and consider during this current calamity.

1. Assess your income sources: This is the single most important thing to do. Income = survival in normal situations. If you still have money coming in you can still buy goods and services for now. If you think that your company might have layoffs, or you are a tip based wage earner your entire approach to this crisis is different.

2. Accumulate cash: don’t panic and sell of your investments (if you have them) or cash out your 401K’s but reduce your spending as much as you can to accumulate cash. Why? What if this gets worse? What if we are all stuck inside for 3 months? Think toilet paper is expensive now? I don’t mean hoarding physical cash in your home but cut down on spending if you can.

3. When you can, buy extra staples: You are going to use them anyway right? So you are at the store, buy a little extra toilet paper. I know this runs counter to item 2 but the point here is if this goes on longer than a month there could be supply issues. Buying a can of beans? Get 2-3. Don’t horde, other people need these items as well.

4. Don’t let Empathy rule your decisions: This is going to be a very hard one for some of you. People will ask you for help, friends, family etc. You have to be in a position to help, so if you don’t have enough money, goods etc. to be comfortable with your situation how can you help someone else? People play on empathy, I know in my family I have people who are practically travel agents for guilt trips. Help people of you can but remember to now allow that help to place you in a worse position.

5. Leave your investments alone: I realize many people who read my blog don’t have investments. If you do, leave them alone. Selling now in the middle of a panic crisis ensures you will have skewed results. Now isn’t the time to buy either, we are still in the middle of government reaction. There will be large swings in the market until likely the end of May. You could be up 10% one day and down another 12% the next. Now isn’t the time to try and be a market expert, hold tight, this will pass.

These are by no means the end all be all, hey if one small tip helps you that’s a good thing. God knows everyone has an opinion or an insight into what is happening. The best thing you can do right now is take care of yourself. That will put you in the best position long term to help others and to be okay once this all calms down. Having weathered a few, smaller situations like this in the past I suspect by June 1st things will largely be back to normal. Here’s hoping it happens way before then.

Take care of yourself