The subtle art of preparing for the worst without making yourself so anxious you poop contstantly

I’ve been prepping. I know it’s irrational, but in the odd event that we find ourselves quarantined to any degree (spoiler alert: I did), it would be nice to know that we won’t be living on ramen and magazine page “toilet paper.”

In the event that this will be a shock to some of you, let me get it out of the way early: I am, by nature, a pretty anxious person. Shocking, I know. But I’m an overthinker with chronic anxiety and big, scary things happening in the world tend to bend my gut.

My plants are impressively unbothered.

While the United States will probably never institute a quarantine on the level that China did, I realize that it’s the nature of epidemics that I might find myself voluntarily quarantining. And given that my family is not the best at stocking up on groceries as it is, I decided I should – gently, slowly, calmly, quietly – prepare to some degree.

But preparing for the worst can feel like you’re already LIVING the worst. I didn’t want to get my gut twisted about gently, delicately, baby-soft-hushedly preparing for the worst. Here’s how I did it without breaking the bank, without cluttering up my house and without cutting off supplies to someone who might need them more… and, more importantly, here’s how I did it while keeping myself pooping on a normal, comfortable schedule.

1.) Multivitamins – Some of you smug bastards will be able to gleefully check this one off right this minute. For the rest of us… we should already probably be taking a multivitamin anyway. And while we know this, we know, we know, we clearly haven’t been doing it. So let’s just help out our health a little and get the damn Flintstones. Bonus? If you should find yourself holed up at home for a few weeks, this will ensure that you’re getting important vitamins and minerals that your ramen might not provide.

2.) Toilet paper – Stockpiling toilet paper is the thing you tell yourself you’re going to do every time you end up wiping with a double-layered Kleenex. So call this a Treat Yo Self moment. Remember: you don’t need to fill a room. Just get as much as you can imagine needing when you’re anxiety pooping later.

3.) Ramen etc. – I can tell you thought I was joking about the ramen. I was not joking about the ramen. On your next shopping trip, choose a few extra groceries that have longer shelf lives: ramen, rice, beans, canned soup, dried pasta, tea, beef jerky, peanut butter, pouches of tuna, dark chocolate. Think about how useful they’ll be. Plain canned pumpkin is incredibly versatile to cook with, make smoothies, feed your pets or stress eat at 2am when you meant to grab the Spaghetti-Os but it was dark and oh well, here we are. Choose a can with a “use by” date after November and you’re ready for Thanksgiving and/or the end of the world.

4.) Nutrient-dense bullshit – Listen, I don’t know why I bought two sacks of protein powder a month ago, but in retrospect, it seems like a wise and fortuitous choice. Much like multivitamins, it’s a good idea to have some things on hand that can cram a few more nutrients down the hatch. Please understand that for other people, this is just… normal? You can, in theory, replace some flour in most recipes with protein powder and pat yourself on the back for intentionally not ingesting a couple carbs. Meal replacement powders and drinks could be handy. If nothing else, you can drop them in a blender with a pint of ice cream while doing jazz hands and improvising a song entitled “MAKIN’ MY MACROS!”

5.) Board games – You deserve to have some fun while you glance nervously at your front door every fifteen minutes, wondering if you should check the news and maybe Twitter but also the CDC or possibly Facebook but probably not Facebook!

In all seriousness, the CDC has said that COVID-19 classifies as a pandemic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean anything yet, it’s a sign that things will get worse before they get better. If that makes you have to poop, I understand.

For some of you, prepping isn’t an option. Limited funds, limited access, limited time means that you won’t be able. I can’t stress this enough: if you’re in need, please reach out. If you’re not sure where to turn, here are some ideas:

211: Just dial 211 from a landline phone or visit They can connect you to a number of services for various situations.

Crowdfund: It’s a sad reality of our modern hellscape that people crowdfund groceries, medication and other needs every single fucking day. If it’s becoming clear that having 2+ weeks of your medication or supplies is going to be necessary, don’t hesitate to ask for friends’ (and strangers’!) help.

CDC Info on COVID-19: While the US government’s approach to COVID has been… interesting… there is still some good information on the CDC website. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms, Google the Coronavirus hotline for your area.

Open Path Collective: There are a number of reduced-cost therapy websites out there. I’ve seen this one recommended several times on social media. They have providers in most states. If one isn’t available or this is out of your price range, this may? be a resource.

And finally… remmeber Self Care: Okay, listen. I know this is some White Lady Bullshit. But taking care of yourself in stressful times is IMPORTANT. And I don’t mean take tub baths (unless you want) and do an extra moisturizing sheet mask (though I do recommend it). In times of deep stress, self care can mean remembering to take that multivitamin. It can mean unclenching your jaw. It can mean washing your hands. It can mean talking to someone who can assure you that your fears are normal, but to take a deep breath and be mindful that you’re okay right NOW. Self care can mean taking care of other people too, if you need a positive outlet for your nervous energy (just check in with yourself from time to time!)

One thought on “The subtle art of preparing for the worst without making yourself so anxious you poop contstantly

  1. I’m not an anxious person but when my friend told me he was quarantined for 2 weeks, I did stop and think if I had enough food on hand for two weeks. And I do BUT… I did notice some holes. Bean soup isn’t tasty unless I make it with chicken stock. I have pasta but do I have tomato paste? What about cheese? Can’t eat spaghetti without cheese! The freezer has become the place where food goes to die and there’s very little in there I want to eat.

    First world problems to be sure. Thanks for reminding me other people might not be so fortunate.

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