First of all, it’s okay to have allll the feelings! It’s normal to break down, to freak out, to have negative thoughts. Very real and scary things are happening… but we don’t have to let those things outside us control us all the time. I wrote this blog, as requested by a friend and student, to help us stay grounded in times of turmoil.
For me, it is reaching five weeks of “staying home” trying to do my part to flatten the curve of this Covid-19 pandemic. I’m not completely isolated in the sense that I go out for a walk every day, and go for the occasional drive; but I have been ordering groceries online, and choosing delivery of the essentials to my home. It seems like such a privilege to be able to do these things in a time of crisis, especially when I know the tragedies others are experiencing right now.
The last month has included a lot of emails, texts, phone calls, and reading/sharing of social media news. Everyone I engage with is dealing with different challenges, emotions, thoughts, and lots of fear-based projections of what is to come.
I have found myself going through phases of obsessive “searching”… reading articles and stats and opinion pieces… unsure of what to believe. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and the reality is this is a very new disease that we still know very little about. It’s easy to feed into the fear, and focus on the worst of this, but it’s important to keep ourselves in check.
YOGA, MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Week three, I had a full blown panic attack. The sensation of four dark walls closing in on me, and this intense feeling we weren’t safe. This was going to consume us all. Humanity failed and we are doomed.
THANK GAWD FOR YOGA. If I had not been practicing mindfulness for as long as I have, I likely would have ended up continuing down that negative thought-path, creating more drama and grief than necessary for myself and others.
You know what pulled me out of it? The most simple act of focusing on my breathing. I checked in with myself, I was able to slow down my rapid heart beat and calm my shaking nerves. Deeper breathes. I became acutely aware of each moment. Each breath. And I started thinking “I am okay. In this moment, I am okay.” And it helped.
I realized after that, there are elements of this experience I can control and there are things I cannot control. I cannot control what is happening outside of my home, or in the world; but what I can control is how much I expose myself to the news. I realized, I can’t keep obsessing over the numbers, the tragedy, or the most negative outcome possible. I need to stay present, with my life, and do whatever I can to potentially stop the spread of the disease. For me, that means staying home as much as possible. For others, that isn’t an option, and we each have to decide how to best cope with our current circumstances.
CLARIFY AND DECIDE
It is challenging but once you become clear on things you can and cannot control in your life right now, the easier it will be to stay focused on what you need to do day to day and moment by moment.
What can you do?
- Practice safe physical distancing
- If staying home is an option for you, do it!
- Monitor your media intake
- Take a break from social media
- Take a walk, or move your body in some way.
- If nature is accessible to you, get outside.
- Stay connected with friends and family, on the phone, webcam or social media.
- Stay present and mindful of you body/mind/emotions
- Breathe and feel your feet on the ground
There might be other things you can add to this list, self-care practices or home activities that are enjoyable for you. It’s up to you! These are the things that are in your control, and when we keep our focus there, it can help us cope better.