With the solar eclipse coming, it is an interesting time to say the least. There are those who are very excited and traveling the country just to experience the full darkness that can be found right here in the NEK, and others who are not really sure about what the wonder is all about. Between the enthusiasm and concern there is one thing that’s for sure, there’s a darkness coming! Are you ready?

Ready for the darkness you ask? How does one truly prepare for such a galactic phenomenon when the only advice seems to be, “wear your glasses and be prepared for traffic!” We get it, it’s not always that helpful. The anxieties of the unknown can be worrisome when it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen on the land and in the sky, and all you hear is “don’t do this, don’t do that, make sure this, make sure that. ”So here’s a list of the what ifs just in case.

What if you look at the sun?

It could happen! The sky is going dark, you look up, like anyone naturally would do! Or say you forget it’s Eclipse day or you hear a bird, who cares, the scenario is, you looked up, you directly looked at the sun, now what? (To be clear, this is REALLY advised NOT TO!) However, should you look directly at the sun, the CDC, NASA, and the  American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are all urging those who may look at the sun to seek care immediately after and not delay. First, AAO recommends taking immediate measures to protect your eyes, and then look away as soon as possible to avoid any further damage. They also mention that most people will want to rub their eyes, but their website says, “do not rub your eyes, as this can further damage. If you experience any discomfort, pain, or vision changes after looking at the sun, seek medical attention promptly.”

What if I am feeling anxious?

First things first, you are never alone in your anxiety. It is very common and normal to have anxiety and even fear around events like a large community event and solar eclipse. If you are feeling anxious now, and it’s growing, it may be time to reach out for extra support, why not! Call 988 and see what readily available options are in your area. However, if your anxiety isn’t growing or stealing too much of your focus, sleep or joy, you may be able to start to work with your thoughts now. Deep breathing is not a niche thing, it’s a tool and it works. See if you can allow yourself to find a quiet space, maybe you can close your eyes, sit comfortably, or lie down. As you breathe in feel your belly rise, see how slowly you can let it sink back down. These techniques help us with our anxiety and to just relax whenever needed. Another technique in a large group can be looking around for different colored items, 10 things that are red, 9 that are blue, etc. You can try to find 5 things you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch as a technique for reducing anxiety and stress too!

What if you don’t care?

It’s a thing right? Some people are really into everything, and others not so much. You may not be interested in the solar eclipse and that’s fine! However, respect always goes both ways. Respecting your own feelings and boundaries around the day is important and also hearing what others are saying about theirs, matters too. If you aren’t interested in participating, writer Brune Brown would say, “Clear is kind,” so be clear. “I hear you are excited, however I won’t be going to the view party.” “That you for the invite, I can’t come.” No excuses needed, no explanation if you don’t care, it’s cool! If you have the day off, do something you do care about! Use the day as a day for YOU!

What if traffic is really bad?

It rarely happens so that’s an awesome thing for us here in the NEK. One thing we can all do NOW is fill up our gas tanks and think about what matters! Most importantly – safety! Heavy traffic can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t able to reach your destination on time or at all, however, your safety is the priority. Do what you can to seek alternate routes, maybe carpool, and plan for the worst. Pack food, water and maybe even a book and some activities. If you get stuck, you know you’ll have what you need. If you don’t, you can laugh about how you planned for a gridlock that never happened.

What if it’s really awesome?

PERFECT! Because all that really matters on April 8th is our community stays safe and sound! We have a great chance to take part in a once in a lifetime event! Whether that’s interesting to you or not, bringing you anxiety or not, there’s always a way to make it through. Just like the eclipse, this will be a moment in time, here and then gone. Let’s plan just enough and stay safe. What if it’s also really awesome? Are you ready for that? Let’s get ready for the darkness!


Mary Hoadley

Director Of The Wellness Center