Conquering anxiety at the grocery store


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/07/2020 (937 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I decided to share this story because I think it’s important for others who may have similar feelings or experiences to know they’re not alone. No one is perfect — and that is perfectly fine.

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I live with anxiety. During the first few weeks of quarantine, my daughter and I went for walks every day and we strictly obeyed the shelter-in-place orders. When something was needed from the store, I’d always send my husband.

Truthfully, the thought terrified me — I feared my anxiety would overwhelm me and I’d forget to practise physical distancing. I worried if I did practise physical distancing that I’d offend someone. What if I said or did the wrong thing? Mostly, I was afraid all these worries would lead to a full-fledged panic attack. Grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic can be, and has been, an anxious experience for many.

Eventually, I realized I had to face this fear before it evolved into a phobia.

On my first trip to the grocery store, everything was fine at the beginning. I made sure to sanitize my hands and give everyone as much room as possible. However, there were no directional markers on the floor, as I had been expecting. This made me nervous, although I wasn’t sure why. As I began shopping, it seemed like when I was headed towards a specific item someone else beat me to it 90 per cent of the time, so I was forced to veer off in a different direction.

I zigzagged around the produce and fresh meat section trying again and again to get close enough to put needed items in my cart. (I never did get the chicken breasts I wanted.) When I did succeed, I felt like there was always someone standing too close to me, not adhering to the two-metres rule.

At this point I was seriously sweating.

I then discovered there were directional arrows up and down each aisle. This made me feel a bit better — I now had a path to follow. But other shoppers weren’t as concerned about which way they were going. I started to panic because I didn’t know whether I was supposed to pass them, or whether I should turn around, even though that would mean I was going the ‘wrong’ way.

By the time I finally made it through the checkout tears were stinging my eyes, but I managed to contain them until I was in the privacy of my car. I cried all the way home and was still crying when I brought the groceries into the house.

But when I calmed down, I was able to recognize the experience as a victory, not a humiliation.
I conquered my fear.

Heather Innis is a community correspondent for Windsor Park. You can contact her at

Heather Innis

Heather Innis
Windsor Park community correspondent

Heather Innis is a community correspondent for Windsor Park.

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