With a pandemic spreading around the world, there are feelings of uncertainty especially when it comes to the future, lots of fear, widespread panic buying, social distancing, hand washing, businesses closed, shelter in place – ya well you know all of this because you are in it and experiencing it as I write this. I figured I’d share my own experience which is about all I have and a few things you can do to stay healthy and balanced.
We have been distancing ourselves now for about four weeks well before businesses closed and people began limiting their movement and the people they spend time with. Of course I have been watching the news (some days too much) and keeping up with how we (in the US) are dealing with this and it’s all very frightening! A lot of emotions are coming up for me – fear, frustration, anger, sadness, and anxiety – those probably being my main five. Fear being the biggest one, to me it looks and feels like a large, black, endless place of doom. And it’s exactly what I experienced back in 2008.
Fear of what?
This current situation brings up ALL the fears I had when I was getting divorced back in 2008, you remember that year right? The housing market crashed. It was not exactly a great time for me to make these huge changes in my life but I was very ready to move on. Being free spirited and hard headed, I didn’t care that I almost lead myself into the lion’s den. Back then, I did feel like I was going to lose my house, I was in debt and receiving threatening phone calls from collection agencies, and a business that was falling apart before my eyes (companies that were my clients were having to cancel my services) and nobody wanted to hire a health coach! In 2009 I spent six months traveling back and forth to New York to complete my certification as a Holistic Health Coach. My anxiety was through the roof and the uncertainty of my future was the place I resided in at that time.
Money was tight! Some days (most days) I couldn’t turn off my brain as it wandered into the darkest of places – would I lose my home?, would I have to go back to Canada?, why couldn’t I get a job?… It was an endless cycle and I felt awful. It was the largest “storm” I have experienced in my life and what is happening currently in the world reminds me of that incredible feeling of impending doom. It’s a terrible feeling however very real because you may be experiencing it. And if you are experiencing it, then it is very real for you.
How did I get through it?
One Day at a Time.
I learned that I have an incredible inner strength and amazing resilience to push forward. I learned how to put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. I learned how to breathe and take each moment as it comes. I learned how to be in my present moment (sucky or not sucky). I learned how to hold on to hope and how to continue dreaming of a future that I wanted.
Some days I broke down and cried. Some days I couldn’t find a way to turn off my brain and the crazy thoughts it produced. Some days were easier than others that is for sure but I got through all of it and I came out with greater coping skills and confidence that I have what it takes to make it through this storm that is affecting everyone on all levels – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
So here are three coping techniques that you can use on a daily basis to support yourself (and your family for that matter) through this challenging time besides what you may already be doing – social distancing, washing your hands, staying home and hopefully eating a good balance of healthy foods.
Three Ways to Hang in and Stay Healthy
- Practice being present and focused in each moment
One of the simplest tools is being present in the current moment. Yet one of the most challenging since your thoughts run like consistent marathons in your head.
Talk yourself through the moment – what exactly are you doing in this moment – washing your hands, washing dishes, or doing laundry? Get your mind to focus on the activity that you are in. And be specific! For example, are you separating colors, washing whites, you could literally count to twenty as you wash your hands. Do you get my point? Once that task is done, move on to the next one and get your mind to focus on the task at hand. It will take practice and repetition but you will find yourself much calmer and focused. You’ll find your mind relaxing (less racing thoughts) and as well, you’ll notice your body relaxing as well. It’s almost like a moving meditation – moving through each task with awareness and total mindfulness.
Please don’t roll your eyes at me lol! Exercise (for me) is one of the best ways to move stuck energy out of my body and my mind. And now with gyms closed we are forced to exercise outside. Yay!! My favorite gym is the great outdoors! Run, walk, do lunges, do push-ups, do sprinting exercises – whatever floats your boat. Go with a family member, go by yourself so that you can regroup and release stress and or go with your dogs – they are loving that you are home ALL the time now!
You hear the birds singing (we are in spring time), you’ll notice that the leaves are turning bright green, you’ll get a little color in your face, and you will feel a general sense of well being. More than likely you will feel lighter in spirit as well!
- Disconnect from Social Media and turn off the news
Yes it’s very difficult to turn off social media because it has become a form of connection and communication. However how about giving yourself a break throughout the day in turn giving yourself the opportunity to focus on other tasks that have been idling in the wings? Social media can be a powerful influencer and trigger for fear and negativity. How about staying connected to friends and family with a personal phone call or even a virtual hang out – face time, skype or zoom? All ways that can help you feel connected with your tribe and it frees you up from continuously reading the news which right now easily triggers fear, anger, anxiety, sadness etc.
Turn off the news. Quit watching the train wreck. Give yourself a mental break. Yes stay caught up and aware but it doesn’t have to be an all day experience. It may be the perfect opportunity to turn off the TV and dive into those books that you have been meaning to read. Listen to music while you are cooking instead of having the TV on. This may be the perfect opportunity for you to start some new habits!
Staying healthy and balanced takes practice
I know this is not an easy time but let’s just get through this one day at a time. Let’s be patient, kind, compassionate, let’s practice loving ourselves as much as we can in these trying times. As far as being present and focused on the task at hand, exercising outside daily, disconnecting from social media and turning off the tv – you will have to practice on a daily basis and work on creating these habits. Healthy habits take practice and repetition.
Stay well, stay healthy and just do your best! Would love to hear your thoughts and things that you are putting into practice to stay healthy and balanced.
All in great health,