A Covid-19 Emotional Survival Guide
11 ways to get through the next little while...
Take a deep breath. Right in this moment. Let’s start by taking lots of these frequently throughout the day. Being aware of and slowing our breath is the starting point for shifting ourselves towards a lighter, more grounded energy that will sustain us through this time.
Wherever we are, I would argue that being emotionally strong and prepared is half the battle. As we’ve heard on the regular lately, the only thing more viral than this virus is fear. And fear leads to a lot of stupid, unconscious behaviour and decision-making. But if we all agree to approach this challenge from a place of love, human intelligence and fortitude, we can not only contain/slow the spread of the virus and collectively protect each other, but we might actually come out the other side stronger and better than we’ve been. I truly believe that together we can make miracles happen.
The other night before falling off to a stress-induced sleep, I made a list of things I could do to emotionally survive this time that has no set end date. I wanted to feel empowered despite the lack of significant power in this situation. In my past, making lists like this one always made me feel that yes, there are things I can do. I wanted to share that list with you.
Here are 11 ways to emotionally one up the coronavirus:
Be realistic and practical.
I’m a true Pisces - I can be idealistic, romantic and dreamy to a fault. But I have been snapped out of my dreamland more than once in my life so I now have a more practical, pragmatic side (thank goodness). Now is not the time to put our heads in the sand. We need to think smart and be prepared so we can take care of ourselves and our community. We need to stay informed and be ready to make decisions appropriately as we gain more information. All while staying as grounded and in the moment as we can.
Rely on your daily practice.
This morning, even though it’s a Saturday, I woke up at 6am before my daughter, so that I could read, meditate and have a quiet moment alone to direct my thoughts for the day towards the light. In challenging times, being intentional of how I want to feel has served as a lighthouse - regardless of what news I read, or interactions I have that day, I can direct my focus back to my intentional thoughts. You can read more about the power of building a daily practice here. In my experience, this practice is so powerful that it’s worth losing sleep over from time to time.
Look for the opportunity.
Robin Sharma has an acronym he uses often - WTOH. What’s The Opportunity Here? Every challenging time comes with an opportunity. I remember reading dozens of books while my husband was in the hospital over a four month period. Instead of ringing my hands and letting anxiety overcome me, I asked friends for book recommendations and started reading like crazy to pass the time and direct my attention. What is the opportunity for us during this time? Maybe it is to make our homes into cozy nests, to become an even greater expert in our area of expertise, or to dive into a hobby that we usually only have a little time for. For me, I’m seeing this as a challenge to really focus - both on the present moment as well as on my vision for the future. It is easy to get caught up in the minute-by- minute news updates - but those that can focus on a bigger picture as we move through this will come out ahead. What can you focus on during this time that will allow you to come out ahead?
Be deeply appreciative for what you have.
We are all in a position of having to give up a lot right now. Some of us a lot more than others. We have to give up our freedom, our routines, potentially our income for at least a little while, or the most impactful of all, our health. But in the midst of all of those sacrifices, most of us still have so much. Let’s be deeply grateful for the roof over our heads, for the wonderful people in our lives to commiserate with and rely on. Whenever I feel a sense of lack or fear, I write down (in detail) at least five things that I’m truly grateful for. This helps me shift my focus to all that is good.
Let’s be generous.
Has anyone else completely lost interest in shopping for things like fashion or home decor? I have built my career on selling these products, but even I can recognize that in the midst of times like these, they become much less important. Other than supporting our local businesses (I 100% plan to do this) that are being hard hit right now, l plan to consider how I can be generous towards others, whether it’s with my wallet, my time or my heart.
It’s still good to feel good.
This past weekend I was at the park with my three-year-old daughter. She squealed with delight as she ran towards the playground and enthusiastically tackled the slide, swings and monkey bars while inviting me to join her (“Follow me, Mama!”). She reminds me every day that it’s always a good day to have a good day. If we are waking up healthy and safe, it is a good day. Let’s aim to have a good day in spite of what might be happening around us.
Slowly adjust to what is (it is normal to resist at first).
I was on the phone with a vendor our company works with in Hong Kong. These past few days especially, it is impossible to talk to anyone without first talking about the virus. He explained to me that although things are settling down in Hong Kong, people are still wearing masks when they go about their business. They’ve adjusted to a new normal. It’s impossible to go from old normal to new normal without discomfort and resistance but don’t let your resistance be an excuse for not preparing and making safe choices. Let’s approach this situation as we would any challenges in our lives. Get creative, explore all the options and make any necessary changes to our behaviour.
Fiercely protect your energy and your mental health.
It’s ok to not be up to speed on what’s happening every minute. It’s good to get off social media and read a book. It is wise to commit to never skipping your daily meditation. Hina Kahn, a coach and therapist (and dear friend) advises us to at a minimum, avoid consuming news about the virus first thing in the morning or last thing before bed. Make protecting your energy as important as washing your hands (ok, almost as important).
Start some new rituals.
Marie Kondo starts the day by opening a window and walking through her home with incense. How lovely! Now that schools have closed in Ontario for (at least) three weeks, we’ll be coming up with new nurturing family rituals to support us through this time. Lots of walks with coffee made at home, the record player on overdrive, and nourishing home made meals.
Use affirmations throughout the day.
This too shall pass.
I’m the kind of person who moves through tough times with strength and grace.
I can handle feeling uncomfortable.
When you feel anxiety creeping in, or a sense of doom and gloom taking over, an affirmation can snap you right out of it. It is a way of reminding your subconscious to step back from that slippery slope of negative thinking. Write your own, or find some from your favourite inspiring books. Post your affirmations around your home and work space, so you see them (and say them to yourself) often.
Be a light.
While navigating my way through my late husband's illness, I’d chat with friends and listen to their anxieties about work, or friendships, or arguments with their mother-in-law. And I remember wanting to scream, THIS is what you’re worried about? Do you have any idea what I’m dealing with? But then I reminded myself that we are all going through the same day having our own unique experiences. Who are we to judge how others process or experience things? Let’s listen without judgement, hold healthy boundaries for ourselves and be a light for others. And if someone can’t see our light, it doesn’t mean it shines any less brightly.
If you can think of anyone who might need to read this, please share. For the first time in too long, we are truly all in this together. Let’s all do our part to make this a story to be proud of. Be well friends.
Always say yes to the present moment....Surrender to what is. Say "yes" to life - and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you. - Eckhart Tolle