When the Snow Day Doesn’t End but Anxiety Begins
Rick Birt SADD National President & CEO
Growing up in the Midwest, I knew the drill of a good winter snowstorm. We’d head to the grocery. We’d load up on all the essentials: milk, bread, and good popcorn. I would fall asleep praying that school would be canceled then wake up early to rush to the window and watch the schools scrolling across the bottom of Channel 7. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. YES! Closed! Then, the fun would begin.
I remember when I was ten or eleven, there was a really big snowstorm coming, so extra popcorn was required. We watched the snow fall and fall and fall. It seemed to never end. Then, one morning the snow stopped. The sun appeared and, in a matter of days, we dug out and life went back to normal.
“Now closing my fifth week of “sheltering in place”,” I’ve realized that this is no longer a snow day. It sure felt like it at first. We all knew the storm was coming. I headed to the grocery (and yes, I bought extra popcorn). Schools across the country were closed, and, for a few days, the fun of something new was real while COVID-19 still seemed distant. It wasn’t affecting me in my imaginary snow globe. The end date of this storm seems to be pushed out, as this virus eats away special plans and special moments. Trips. Graduations. My friends are having a baby; I won’t be at the hospital to celebrate. A longtime family friend passed; I wasn’t at her funeral. The novelty of this moment has passed into nervousness.
If there’s one thing humans don’t like… if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s not knowing. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know how this will end. Each of us will be impacted in some way, each of us will feel the loss. Either the robbery of a moment or the weight of anxiety. Some will know true heartbreak in saying goodbye to a loved one.
Here’s the good news: we’re all in this together. Our history is sprinkled with moments when tragedy has brought out the best in humanity. I think this will be another moment. You may ask, “So Rick, what do I do?” At SADD, we’re making a list of several easy steps you can do each day to help get through these next weeks or months.
Each week, our team is sending out incredible activities that you can do from home. Check out the work being down by SADD at the state level join the conversation to empower and engage on the issues of traffic safety, substance abuse, and mental health. We’ll also be highlighting volunteer opportunities you can do from the safety of your home. Challenge your family, your friends, your community to reach beyond the walls in which we find ourselves to give to someone else. By giving your time, you give hope and earn hours for the President's Volunteer Service Award, for which SADD is a certifying organization.
SADD Nation needs you. Like every business, we’ve been impacted by the effects of COVID-19. We need you, our loyal supporters, to continue to help us fuel the mental health programming that will help keep young people safe and our leaders engaged. Any gift would be appreiacted, and you can give your tax deductible gift right here.
When you start to feel your mind and heart race, let it. Let your mind wander then slowly breathe in, breathe out. Find a way to meditate and remember a moment that brought you joy. Pure joy. Then keep breathing, in and out. There are many free meditation sites out there. I personally enjoy this one from our friends at HeadSpace. The important thing is to check in with yourself. Yes. Notice how you’re breathing. When you feel anxious or stressed, close your eyes, breath in and out.
There are seemingly a million free trials, apps, and workouts you can find on the web. Make a challenge with your friends. I’ve been so touched by Elizabeth, our VP of Public Affairs, and the work she is doing with Declan’s Army, an effort to encourage an incredible young man who is fighting rare cancer. Check out the page and get moving to remind Declan that every fight is worth winning.
During the storms of winters past, we’ve watched the snow fall and fall and fall. Right now, it may feel like this storm will never end. It will, and the sun will appear again. For now, stay safe. Stay healthy. The sun will be here soon.