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Coping strategies for being in public

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by bluelily, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    In the past, I've been ok with shopping, or even enjoyed it by throwing a fun cafe lunch into the middle of the run, etc. But of course with Covid, it's just a quick scurry in and out to get what I need and get home safe. This usually works ok, I listen to calm music in the car, take a moment in the parking lot if I need to, etc.

    Yesterday I had a sudden thing come up that I had to go get in the bigger town near us that I never go to. It was last minute so I couldn't do all the trip planning I rely on, and it's an area with extreme virus risk, new variants showing up. Also very backwards socially, and with tourists now flocking there, so no masks, people crowding, just a bad scene.

    I was doing ok through all of it until I got to the last store, big box place, and it was totally rearranged from the last time I was there, sections in different places, even the aisles going in new directions. So my list was totally out of order and it took me over an hour to find the 5 things I was there for.

    I kept it together until the long checkout line, and then I really started to unravel inside. My brain screaming "I have to get out of here", wondering if I'll be so drained it will be hard to drive home, I bet many of you have felt this before!

    I'm newly self-identified, so I'm trying to work with myself and really deal with this stuff, but in some ways, it's harder knowing what's behind the panic and shutdown, because observing it makes me see it more. So I got a little frozen and just basically death gripped the cart handle until I could checkout and leave.

    Once I got to the car, I did some deep breathing, put on my music, called my partner, and was ok before long. But I think if there had been even one more person ahead of me in line, I would have abandoned everything and run out of there. So I need some better strategies for that moment. Any ideas?
     
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  2. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I absolutely hate when they rearrange stores. (The grocery store near me does it routinely. It's no secret that they do this so that people spend more time in the store and see things they wouldn't normally see. It's a deliberate ploy to get people to spend more money.) It's ESPECIALLY bad now.

    "Get in, get what you need and get out" has been the public health mantra for the past year, but they rearrange the store making that impossible. You HAVE to browse, because you can't find anything.

    My #1 thing that saves my butt in crowded places is earplugs. They definitely make it easier and I carry a pair on my keyring (I use them at work too so it's really convenient). If the store is crowded (I can tell by how crowded the parking lot is) or I'm already feeling overwhelmed, I pop the earplugs in before I go inside.
     
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  3. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    They definitely got me with the rearrange, I bought a couple things I wasn't there for because I saw them when I was on a pointless quest for oven mitts. Grrrrr.

    Earplugs are an idea, never thought of that. Like turning down one sense so it's just a little less coming in. Thanks!
     
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  4. SimonSays

    SimonSays A work in progress V.I.P Member

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    Yes, as @SDRSpark said, earplugs make all the difference. I never enter a shop without them already in. even if I get there as it opens and few people are around, announcements would try and get in otherwise.

    Earplugs not only keep out sounds, but create a feeling of space, so I am there but also somehow less there. I can look at people and observe without feeling involved. They help so much.
     
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  5. lolcatal

    lolcatal Well-Known Member

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    It's okay to abandon everything and leave the store if you need to. Just giving yourself that permission may help. You could actually plan to do it in two trips when they rearrange things. Go in once to get the layout of the store, and then go in a second time six hours later to actually buy the items. That would give you enough time to relax a bit, but not enough time for them to rearrange the store yet again.

    It helps me to have something soothing in my pocket that I can touch and hold.
     
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  6. KagamineLen

    KagamineLen Video game and movie addict.

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    Earplugs are nice, but I prefer headphones and chill tunes.
     
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  7. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    I like the idea of being a bit removed from the environment. I don't wear my glasses out shopping for that reason- I'm perfectly safe to navigate, but everything over 5 feet away is nice & soft. But that doesn't help in a store I don't have memorized. So maybe less noise would help even if the visual was still busy.
     
  8. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    I almost took my headphones, but spaced it at the last minute! I did have chill music in the car, it helped a lot, I will try that in the unfamiliar stores the next time I can't avoid them.
     
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  9. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    Thanks, I have bolted in the middle of shopping before, without really understanding why, at least now I know the reason & can have more self-compassion about it. The weird thing is, looking back on it, I don't think I could recall anything about the new layout of the store, I was so frazzled the whole time, it's like I was on drugs.

    I like the idea of a fidget object, I have a little Amber bear, I think he might be just the thing. Thanks.
     
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  10. Aneka

    Aneka Well-Known Member

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    Next time, ask an employee where the items are located. Rearranged shelves are something that annoys most people but it's also supposed to encourage browsing. Of course, it doesn't work with everyone.
    I like to browse a little in grocery stores but will only buy that one specific piece of clothing my mind is set on in fashion stores. And my sense of fashion exists independly from fashion. So- internet shopping most of the time. Unless something really catches my eye.

    Setting aside a specific day to do all the shopping needed for the week helps. But I guess you already carefully plan your shopping and that one trip messed with your routine. Once you've done something stressful do something to reward yourself. It helps me pull through all the stuff I hate. Like important telephone calls.
     
  11. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    Thanks for the ideas & commiseration. Today I am so dull and tired, I can't seem to stir up any energy at all. I've always had to plan days off after big shopping days, never really understood why, just didn't do taxing public things too many days in a row.

    I understand it now, and I'm trying to feel ok about it, but I also just feel like a real loser for being so depleted by a shopping trip. Knowing it's my nature in this deep way now, it's harder to say "it was just a bad day".
     
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  12. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    Thanks, all good tips! I think I just shut down a little and was trying to power through on my own. You're right, I do plan my shopping, and Covid's been a great excuse to only shop like once a month. But the dog food delivery was late and we ran out! And my dog is my mental salvation some days, gotta keep him fed. And he was my reward coming home, we went for a nice long walk.
     
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  13. Skittlebisquit

    Skittlebisquit "..experience moments of happiness."

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    I went to the store too, same day! Similar circumstance, had to go pay a bill, then big grocery store for supplies. In the food store at 5:30pm! Not too crowded, forgot my list, and within 10 minutes, I started to clench up.

    There was this young family, all very loud. All 4 kids under 10 i think, and a toddler gabbling in the cart. Like she was singing, seriously loud. My Twitch/flinch (startle response) comes to the fore, i start to sweat and breathe faster. I feel my pulse in my face, and start to hear it in my head.

    What first was charming, changed. My perception changed, i became annoyed, distracted, upset. I stopped the shift towards anxiety by altering my path.

    Like many stores of that type, most ppl walk in one direction. Produce near the door, then bulk goods, onto meat and poultry, then more aisles, etc. I stopped and went backwards, against the flow of traffic. I sought something that i knew not what, mostly solace.

    The young family proceeded apace, getting louder as they went. Now two of the kids are screaming at (?) And the toddler starts just bawling her lungs out. I stopped and pretended to read labels and browse. I let them walk away.

    The further away they went the better i felt. I could hear them from 80 metres away, all the way (diagonal) on the other side of the store. I was in a deserted section of things i didnt need, stationary or pet food or something i forget.

    I focused my attention inwards and started the blessing way, thinking on gratitude and how beautiful are the young and how joyous is my heart for this beautiful place and all of these wonderful things to take home.

    "My cup runneth over" literally, there was more i wanted, and could afford to buy. My cart was full. I waited listening. I could still hear the younglings, now much muted from distance. I remembered the salt. I started just wandering about, feeling like a rebel misfit, scatterbrained, but a spring in my step.

    I didnt waste quite enough time, as i got towards the checkout(payment) the young family was there, screaming kids, frustrated parents, confusion but it was ok because one of the store clerks(angel) found me and herded me into the chute, like a cowgirl on a horse. She was nice and engaging. We joked about the screaming kid and told stories to eachother about being kids.

    I was a climber, her kids liked to hide from her. She cast a sphere of benevolence about us, just briefly. The lesson of monday, 6 April 2021 was timing, like clockwerk gears missing teeth and clogged with debris. A few moments, a reset turning back like a tracker in the wild who seeks to re acquire the trail he had lost. I was in the right place doing the right thing at almost the right time. It felt like climbing up on top of the wall of a maze, or going backwards in a video game, like resetting a clock.
     
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  14. bluelily

    bluelily New Member

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    This was a beautiful journey, thank you so much!

    It's funny, because one of the really great things about other recent days out was that people are relaxing some and taking their kids out with them again, and it brings me joy to see the littles & their smiles after the last year.

    I will try going widdershins on the energy if I find myself in a spun state again. I love this idea.
     
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  15. Skittlebisquit

    Skittlebisquit "..experience moments of happiness."

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    You are not a loser! You are my hero!!!


    Ashamed is what we first felt, less than the "normal people". Like a freak. The one pink flamingo in a flock of geese.

    Now you just helped some one, so good job! See just by talking about this type of issue you validated some one else, and how they felt doing something similar,the "me too" feeling(its at the heart of advocacy).

    Totally normal to be a bit tired after doing something heroic! The chain of love that you just started is going out on waves, and it will help many! Proud of you.
     
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  16. BrokenNeedle

    BrokenNeedle I am among no one.

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    Same here. I don't often leave the house without my earbuds plugged into my phone with something playing on Spotify.
     
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  17. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It sounds like you like to order the same things. Maybe order a certain amount but do it online so that you get delivery for free. That way, you don't have to go to the store to get annoyed by the crowds or the re-arranging in a store.
     
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  18. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Have everything delivered! But if not, then medication could make it actually enjoyable! There's also deep breathing and fidget toys. Fidget toys help me a lot. Stretchy noodle!! :cool:
     
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  19. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    For the supermarket, I wear either earplugs or earphones with my music. I have to - the scanner at the checkout is ridiculously loud - far louder than it needs to be - ant that really bothers me. Other than that, it's a decent supermarket... wide aisles that rarely change, not too busy, rarely have to eait long in the queue, because it has a policy of opening another till as soon as they see that there are more than about 3 people waiting.
     
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  20. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Mindfulness !,remember what i really dislike is it hyperventilating ,if you didn't hyperventilate would it be different?