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COVID-19; How to Handle Supermarket Anxiety

Food shortages, social distancing, face masks — a trip to the grocery store isn't what it was before. We asked experts for tips on reducing worry and successfully navigating a tricky supermarket.

The supermarket is a place of necessity — you must visit it to keep your family fed, at least to some extent. It can also be a place of refuge — some of us enjoy perusing the aisles in search of new ingredients, fun products, or forgotten favorites. But since COVID-19 began restricting everyday life and activities over a month ago, the grocery store has become a place of potential interaction and contamination, and with that, it brings anxiety, unease, and even fear.

Dr. Dayna Lee-Baggley, a registered psychologist and the director of the Behavior Change Research Institute for Nova Scotia Health Authority, affirms that our current fears about shopping at the supermarket are understandable. She explains that the part of our brain directing us towards some of the more seemingly illogical activities we've seen — think stockpiling toilet paper — is being directed by our "caveman brain." This part of the brain controls e

motions, memories, and learning. According to Baggley, this part was "built-in caveman times and is excellent for survival. And because of COVID-19, our caveman minds are on fire. They are perceiving threats and so they are screaming and yelling at us."

The most recently evolved part of the brain, our frontal lobe controls behavior, willpower, and self-control. It can be equated, in some senses, to a battery. It can be drained of energy and capability, and it may need to be charged from time to time. Baggley affirmed that the n

ovelty and rapidly changing nature of the crisis has us "spending" the energy of our frontal lobe rapidly. This leaves us guided by our caveman brain, potentially mak