Finding the Calm in the Corona Storm

Finding the Calm in the Corona Storm

Remember when we thought life was stressful? Two short weeks ago, we were thrust into a rapidly progressing global pandemic that made each and every one of us gain some perspective on our lives as they were, and put our crisis coping capacities to the test. Stress is inevitable during times likes these. The nature and duration of the circumstances surrounding this virus are both terrifying and uncertain. It is okay to feel worried about the situation. It is okay to feel sad. You may even be experiencing emotions, such as: anger, panic, loneliness, confusion, and resentment. While it is okay and normal to experience these myriad emotions, we need not let them take over our lives and dictate our moment-to-moment interactions or decisions. We also need to be mindful of how these emotions are impacting our lives at home, with loved ones, given they are generally the ones to be on the receiving end of our stress-driven behaviours.

While we cannot control what is going on around us, we can absolutely mitigate the internal impacts of what is transpiring around us by adopting some general self-care practices and coping strategies. Here is a list of eight things you can do to help you find your calm amidst this Corona storm:

  1. Try to maintain some semblance of a routine. Many people have reported that this time feels like that liminal, transitional time, between Christmas and New Year’s, when there is minimal structure, routine or expectations. This is fine for a week or two but given that we have no idea how long this will last; it is a good idea to try to maintain some structure and routine. For many folks, unstructured time can actually exacerbate Anxiety, and only serves to accentuate feelings of chaos and disarray. Set an alarm. Get dressed. Have some general tasks you will complete throughout the day, and ensure to schedule in some time for self-care and relaxation.
  2. Be mindful of the information and conversations you are exposing yourself to. When scrolling social media, watching the news, or having conversations with people in your circle, observe how the information that is being shared is making you feel. While it is important to stay informed, it is not necessary to take in all of the information that is being shared out there. Some information is exaggerated and some of it is completely untrue. Try to stick to credible sources and only expose yourself to the necessary facts needed to keep you and your family safe and healthy and to be aware of the current situation. Be mindful of excessively checking for updates. It is generally a good practice to set boundaries around who and what you expose yourself to, and this is especially pertinent at a time like this, where the energy tends to be quite heavy.
  3. Practice grounding techniques, such as: Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, EFT-Tapping, and Breathwork. You can search for most of these kinds of practices online for free, using YouTube. Some things you can search, include: “Beginner/Gentle Yoga,” “Guided Meditation,” “Breathing Exercises,” or “Mindfulness Practices.” A general mindfulness practice, involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgment, noticing when your mind wanders or worries, and gently bring your awareness back to the present, focusing on either your breathing, or any other tangible object or even an affirmation, such as: “It’s going to be okay. I am going to be okay.” You can also bring your attention to your five senses, and focus on five things that you see, four things that you hear, three things that you feel, two things that you smell, and one thing you taste, for example.
  4. Get outside and move. Moving our bodies is an excellent way to reduce the impact of stress, and doing so outside in the fresh air is especially important during times like these, when we are largely housebound. Getting out in nature is ideal if that is accessible to you or perhaps, a walk by the water to help ground and center. Some extra Vitamin D is also never a bad idea during a global health crisis.
  5. Stay connected. Perhaps you are an introvert and find yourself enjoying this mandated social distancing. Regardless, we are human beings, wired for connection, and it is healthy and important to maintain connection with friends and loved ones, especially during times like these. Isolation is detrimental to our mental health and wellbeing, so pick up the phone or connect on whatever online platform you enjoy using. Sometimes, simply hearing the voice of someone we are connected to can help lower our stress levels.
  6. Remind yourself that “This too shall pass.” Sometimes, Anxiety gets the best of us and gives us the message that hard times are going to go on indefinitely but this simply is not the case. Acknowledge how you feel about the situation and observe your thoughts and feelings with compassionate curiosity. Name how you are feeling if you can. If we can name it, we can better tame it! Then, remind yourself that this will eventually pass, and bring yourself back to what is happening in the present moment. Over and over again.
  7. Be mindful of substance use and alcohol consumption. During this time of social distancing and global health crisis, it is not unusual for people to increase their amount of substance use or alcohol consumption. Try to be mindful of your emotions and bodily sensations that precede wanting to reach for that glass of wine or other substance. Notice when you feel bored, tired, lonely, angry, sad, anxious, upset, and see if you can sit with that feeling, breathing through it. You may wish to practice “urge-surfing,” which involves surfing the urge to engage in a substance or behaviour. Distraction can be a helpful tool for the short-term, if you simply cannot bear the feeling. Practice some deep-breathing. Move your body. Chat with a friend or loved one. Watch a show. Read a book. Find an alternative to help you cope with the underlying feeling(s).
  8. Reach out for support. Look for the helpers! There are many people out there, providing services, both formal and informal, to folks who are in need. There is nothing to be ashamed of, if you feel that you are requiring some support, whether it be financial assistance, mental health assistance, or assistance with other practical tasks, like getting groceries. We are all being impacted by this in some way, and we are all in it together.

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