Survival Tip #3: Stillness

I’m finding it very difficult to focus. No sooner do I sit down to do one thing that I jump up and have to do another. Partly, I suspect, this is due to anxiety. Its hard to relax when people around you are suffering. But partly it’s because there is a steady stream of things calling for my attention, and everything has become more time-consuming and difficult.

Tonight I teach my first Novel Draft class of the semester, and I’m always particularly partial to new classes. I love meeting new students. I love hearing their stories. I love telling my stories, and the great thing about a new class is they haven’t heard them before. I’m sure the whole thing will go well, and yet I have this steady undercurrent of anxiety. I’m going to have 14 faces staring at me from a screen. How do I get them to know each other, and like each other? There was a book I wanted to show them, but I couldn’t go to the library. Usually I have lots of hand-outs, but I can’t get to a photocopier, so I’ve downloaded them and will share them on Zoom. But what if I screw it all up?

That’s just one of the things I’m worrying about today. Then there are a slew of other things, ranging from a dear friend who went to the hospital yesterday. How is he? Should I drop off food at his house? How are my kids doing? How am I doing? My eyes are watery. Am I sick? Did I remember to send out an invite to a Zoom meeting Monday night?

And on it goes.

So I have been trying to do what I can to calm myself and find some stillness in the middle of this anxiety. Prayer helps. So do walks in the woods. I get up early in the morning because everything just feels calmer at 6 a.m. I do yoga. I watch Inspector Morse. I listen to Governor Cuomo. I try not to send out or open e mails over the weekend. I try to be a little forgiving of myself.

How about you? Where do you find stillness?


  1. I’m trying to stay off email and other “easy distractions” as much as possible- maybe a good new habit to come from this. And I’m doing my version of your walks in the woods- gardening! Now I may not be successful…. I have a “brown thumb” but maybe I’ll master this new skill!

  2. I find straightening up (they call it decluttering, these days) helps. I usually detest house cleaning but straightening up brings order to chaos.

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