The emotional and psychological impact of the empty shelves

The emotional and psychological impact of the empty shelves

This morning, I woke up early to head out to the grocery to grab a few things we were running low on around the house. I had a relatively short list of items – flour, ground turkey, rice, laundry detergent, and noodles. I hadn’t been to the store in about 8 or 9 days – and the last time I went out, the shelves were still stocked fairly well (with the exception of the TP and soap sections).  I saw the Facebook posts of friends who were strolling the isles of empty shelves, but didn’t experience it personally. Until this morning.

Empty shelves immediately prompt fear, anxiety, and scarcity mentality

As I perused isles of empty shelves, I found my anxious thoughts growing. “What if we don’t have enough protein?” “How much longer before they get more chicken?” “What will my kids eat if they don’t get more in stock?”

And as my anxious thoughts continued to spin, I found my stomach beginning to churn with fear and anxiety.

After a few minutes, I stopped and looked in my cart. I shifted my focus away from what I didn’t have to what I DID have. I found soap and ice cream. 🙂  I got rice and canned vegetables. I found grapes. I got taco seasoning to make tacos with the ground turkey I bought last week.  As I shifted my focus, I found my anxiety lessening.

I found a couple other things that we needed and then came home. Realizing as I unloaded all the groceries, that I got WAY more than my anxiety told me I did.  And it struck me that I hadn’t experienced fear or anxiety because I hadn’t left the house in 8 or 9 days to go to the store.

And it hit me… staying at home is not just for our physical health, but for our emotional and psychological health, too! Staying home protects us physically, but also mentally and emotionally, too.

Anxiety breeds on fear-based thoughts. In our current situation, I truly believe the saying “ignorance is bliss” fits perfectly. If I hadn’t seen and experienced the empty shelves for myself, I wouldn’t have been feeling worried or anxious this morning. And if I am being honest, I wouldn’t have been irritable for the next hour as my anxiety was working its way back down.

So what do we do?

Stay home if you can.

Period. That’s all. 🙂  Get out of the house and walk around your neighborhood, but otherwise, stay close to home.

Be creative with what you have in your pantry already.

My friend, Laura Brandt, and I were texting this morning as we were both grocery shopping and she mentioned it feeling a bit like being on the show, Chopped. And I thought… well, let’s just go with that! Kids would LOVE if you pretended you were on the show, Chopped!  Pick a few random things from your pantry and fridge and go at it!

Stay focused on gratitude for what we have.

I cannot understate how helpful this was for me this morning, and always when I recommend this to clients and parents. Focus on what you have currently. Model this gratitude for your kids as they ask why they can’t go places. Engage with family and friends through technology to spread gratitude with others. Write a gratitude note on the fridge each day. Ask your kids what they are thankful for as we continue to be social distancing.

How are YOU finding peace and happiness amidst all of these changes?? Please share so we all can grab some new ideas!