By Margie Sugarman
I’m experiencing anxiety with going back to horse shows post-coronavirus. I find myself worried about catching the virus or spreading it to my family, even with all the precautions in place. How do I cope with the anxiety?
Many of you might have recently read a piece that’s been circulating online regarding Margaret Mead, the famous and much-respected anthropologist. The quote had to do with a discussion with a student who asked what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture.
The student expected Margaret to talk about clay pots, grinding stones or fish hooks. It was a bit shocking to the student when Margaret responded: “The first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur that had been broken and then healed.” It was explained that when you break a leg in the animal kingdom, you die. One can’t run from danger, hunt for food or get to the river for a drink. You are literally meat for prowling beasts. No animal could survive a broken leg long enough to heal. A healed femur is evidence that someone had taken time to stay with the one who had been injured, bound up the wound, carried the person to a safe place and tended to the needs of that person until they healed. Margaret said that helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization begins.
Amid the current pandemic, it’s normal to feel that you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. The constant bombardment of information, the changes to our normal life patterns, uncertainty regarding our own and others’ health and the rapidly changing reports all feed the ups and downs of the rollercoaster ride. This is all emotionally and physically challenging, as well as draining, and it impacts everyone a little differently.
The questions, the uncertainty, the fear, the mistrust are all normal. Plenty of people are sharing your feelings and it’s essential to stay connected as we begin to phase back to more “normal” behaviors. The anxiety, loss, disappointment, frustration and anger are important to acknowledge. It’s vital to stay as connected as you can while going through the phases leading back to socializing.
You should identify and discuss the emotions you feel because they will change as the pandemic evolves. You should also find ways to cope with these emotions. As a rider and athlete, you’re aware of how exercise helps in managing stress and maintaining positive mental health. Continue to engage in any exercise that you can. It’s important, when thinking about returning to showing and all that carries with it, to remember “why” you compete. Keeping your reasons in mind helps with adapting to the new restrictions at the shows.
Mandates are issued and temperatures are taken before entering the show grounds. Any elevation in body temperature will result in you waiting, taking any head coverings off, and trying again. Hopefully, you will then be able to proceed. Masks must be worn at all times if you’re not riding. Gloves are also part of the new attire when at the show and must be worn when helping to set jumps. Guards are driving around that will make sure there is social distancing if you’re not with a family member. Carrying out the new guidelines reduces risks, will help alleviate your anxiety and makes you part of the solution.
It’s also a personal responsibility: Keep in mind that you’re only as exposed as you allow yourself to be.
Remember that because of the virus, everyone has been faced with a new challenge and we’re all trying to help one another through this uncertain time. It’s up to each one of us to follow the safety measures to help flatten the curve.
“We are at our best when we help others … that’s being civilized.” — Margaret Mead