COVID-19 has caused all of us some sort of disruption in how we live our lives. Tap, tap, is this microphone on? “We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming to Bring You This Breaking News…”
Seemingly overnight, things changed (at least this is what it felt like!) when the threat of COVID-19 became reality. Now, I can’t concentrate or get my anxiety to SHUT OFF! My mind simply can’t focus and anxiety is flooding my body and brain.
We all have some level of anxiety, especially in the mist of these challenging times. During a pandemic, staying positive feels like you are being asked to climb Mt. Everest in your bathing suit with no shoes on. Can you imagine how vulnerable you would feel climbing a mountain in just your swimsuit? Don’t even get me started on how impossible it is to climb a mountain in the first place, let alone while being exposed to the elements.
When you are faced with a challenge that you have never experienced before, you have a few choices.
Which one feels like where you are now?
→ Decide it is simply too much to climb the mountain. After all, what you are being called upon to do is preposterous and feels impossible.
→ Get help and guidance on how to start this journey. Start to build up resources and figure out a plan for this test of your strength.
→ Decide you are up for the challenge. Build your climbing muscles, build your resolve, and start to grow stronger. Progress may be slow but at least you’re moving. You will adapt through this process and learn new skills. Whether you make it to the top of the mountain or a few feet up, you are building muscles you have never used before.
For example (in my past life before COVID-19), my first love (in the athletic relm) was dance. I had to be flexible, jump high, memorize movements that synchronized with others, and feel the music. Throughout high school and college, I was strong in dance but not strong in other ways. I did not have the strength of bodybuilders, the speed of sprinters, or leg endurance of a cyclist.
As I entered middle adulthood, I did not have the same opportunities to enjoy dance, so I adapted and found my second love… running. Taking up running has caused me to lose the flexibility I once had but I gained endurance and lifelong friends. Therefore, running gave me things I didn’t have before, BUT I got stronger in different ways.
This situation we are in, where our normal life is disrupted and we are forced to do things differently, can bring extra anxiety because it’s hard to predict what will happen next. Some have lost their jobs, sense of control, or worse. The one thing that we all have in common is we are adjusting in some way.
How can we grow stronger in different ways during this adjustment period?
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Build your self compassion strength: By feeling compassion for yourself, you are better able to feel compassion for others. Compassion is different from a pity party. A pity party is self- indulgent and you may attempt to avoid or control a situation. On the other hand, self-compassion comes from the intent to be able to love yourself. It is saying to yourself “this is hard, you have the right to grieve, cry, and let out your emotions. I am going through this with you.”
Acknowledging the struggle is self-compassion, seeking what you need is self compassion, and loving yourself despite your imperfections is self-compassion. If you are a little more irritable than normal, it’s understandable; we are all facing a magnitude of unknowns. Don’t label yourself as bad, label yourself as struggling, and give yourself a break. Pass on the compassion by checking on others that are struggling as well.
Build your immunity strength: This Pandemic has caused much stress and anxiety. Ironically, if our anxiety is too high for too long, it actually causes our immune system to weaken. Being able to learn how to lower anxiety is the best thing we can do for our health. Naturally, you may feel the need to plan and prepare because of the stress of the situation. You can still plan while giving yourself the space to carve out periods of relaxation. Consequently, you can’t go to the spa to get a massage, but you can get creative with new ways to relax. For more tips, click here
Build your gratitude strength: Have you been able to feel gratitude for what you have? Things can always get worse but there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. More than ever it’s time to build the strength of gratitude because it has the power to energize and heal. While feelings of despair come up, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope when things get difficult. It will build up your immune system because the feelings of anxiety can subside while you are in a state of gratitude.
Build your acceptance strength: How are you reacting to this situation? Are you pushing against it? Not accepting it? Feeling anger towards it? The more you push, the more it pushes back against you. None of us knows what will happen next and there is a huge amount of uncertainty. Can you lean into your hope, faith, and love during these times?
It can be overwhelming if fear is the primary emotion taking up most of your space. Let yourself cry but don’t give up hope. Accept where you are and find ways to make the best of it. Seek support and guidance from your loved ones and friends. Visualize the ways you have found strength in the past.
Build your “phone a friend” strength: Maybe it’s hard for you to ask for help. Guess what, we all need help right now and there is NO SHAME in that. On the other hand, if you don’t need much, perhaps you offer your help to others in need. If you are in a place where you can support others, then do what you can. Helping others is also a positive emotion that can help build your immunity.
Each of us will have our own pain that comes with this pandemic. Giving yourself what you need or reaching out for help is so important. In addition, let’s do what we can for others and come together as a community. This is a chance to reevaluate what is truly important in your life. In fact, what is most valuable may be right in front of you.
In conclusion, as we work together, here is a list of ways to help others in need – please include any other ideas in the comments.
- Call to check up on a friend, neighbor, or co-worker
- Give blood
- Give to the food bank
- Support a local merchants
- Help someone, who may be unable, to get groceries
- Make a donation to your favorite charity
- Remember to take care of yourself!
Let’s work together & help each other!