Wow. This certainly feels like a time of uncertainty. It also feels like a time of distance and disconnection. It is a double whammy. We feel isolated in uncertainty. You see, we as humans are all hardwired for connection. And when we don't have a sense of belonging or a felt sense of another, we notice an uptick in anxiety and feeling unsafe. As we live in these times of Corona, we are faced with feelings of hopelessness, stress and fear. Here are seven ways to be present in our pain but not get stuck in it. Here are seven ways to get to calm in uncertain times:
1. Find a routine.
This is super important when trying to manage uncertainty and anxiety. Experiencing control in our tasks can bring ease and guard against disabling feelings. Focus on the small moments of your life with presence and attention. Move from job to job with open awareness and open heartedness.
2. Know your news threshold.
Watch or read enough to stay informed and be careful not to overdo it. The news can feel addicting and anxiety provoking when viewed in excess. Listen to your body. If you start feeling fidgety or stressed, turn off the news and do the next best thing like take a walk or call a friend. We have so much coming at us through social media and various news channels that can easily overwhelm us. In fact, it is the stress that we feel when stuck to our screens that compromises the very part of us that we need to fight off Covid-19: Our immune systems. Managing our information intake well keeps us strong and protected.
3. Connect with nature.
Exercise helps with mood and calms the nervous system. Do something outdoors every day without headphones. Open up your five senses to your experience while walking. What do you see, hear, touch, smell or even taste? Be present to your experience, listen to the crunch of stones under your shoes. There is a much bigger world beyond our fears and worries.
4. Gratitude and Empathy.
Be grateful for the things you do have, not dwell what you don't have. This will also help your immune system. The brain has a way of focusing on the negative. Make a concerted effort to see the positive. Empathy for others can also go a long way to keeping you strong. Feel with all those who are struggling in this time. Send out good thoughts and wishes so that those who are suffering find peace and happiness.
5. Pause and reflect.
If you feel like you are spinning out and caught in a hamster wheel of worry and anxiety, it's time to stop and go inside. When it feels this way, essentially we have disconnected from ourselves. It is time to reconnect. Meditation can really help. Make this part of your daily routine. I like to meditate when I awake each day. And I make sure to pause and reflect at different times during the day as a way of maintaining my balance and getting to calm. Ask yourself, how am I doing this in this very moment? Ask it and then listen without judgment. Be honest with yourself. I call it name to tame it. "I'm feeling really scared, and I'm feeling a lot of constriction in my chest." I bet when you do this you will feel more peace and clarity amidst the swirling and turmoil around you.
6. Distinguish between fear and anxiety.
This is big. Fear is the big bad wolf at the door. You need to do certain things to protect yourself like washing your hands, wearing a mask while shopping and social distancing. Anxiety on the other hand is our history being played out in present time. Anxiety arises from old beliefs and identifications ("the world is unsafe;" "I can't trust anyone"). It really helps to know when it is fear and when it is anxiety. What can I control or do right now vs. what feels like it is drawing from the past. There is an old saying that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. You can go through the pain of Corona and avoid the suffering by attending to what you can control and letting go of that which is outside your control.
You are doing the best that you can. Know that you are worthy of care when you fall down, miss the mark or feel scared. Know this is a universal thing that we are all going through. Find ways to nurture or soothe yourself when feeling out of sorts. Take the time to care for yourself.