I am pretty sure that my grandparents, were they still alive, would have shrugged their shoulders, referred to the second world war and carried on as normal. But I personally can’t remember a time when there has been so much uncertainty, and such a rapidly unfolding situation.
And as anyone who has experienced anxiety knows, uncertainty generally makes it a lot worse. With that in mind, there are a couple of things to consider.
There is very little else happening right now and journalists have a lot of internet space and hours to fill. Gone are the days when we read one newspaper in the morning and watched the evening news, instead it is a 24/7 business. When there is only one story, it is dissected over and over again from every possible angle.
Remembering this is helpful, as is limiting our exposure. If you have updates from news organisations on your phone or tablet, now might be a good time to disconnect them so that you control how much information you receive and how often you get it. Choose a trusted source and check in with it, but otherwise free up some headspace for more positive thoughts.
Panic is contagious
You only have look at the supermarket shelves and footage of people fighting in the aisles to realise this. However just because panic spreads, doesn’t mean at all that it is warranted. Take a breath and tune into your own experience rather than following others in their response. If you never have cause to buy tinned tomatoes, you’re not going to start cooking with them now.
The present is a great place to be.
Anxiety robs us of the present moment, it either pulls us back to the past, what we did, what we said, or it constantly projects us into the future – what if? So, it can help to check in with the present and just be curious about yourself and your surroundings right now, the present is where we live, so try to tune it to it.
The say that life is what happens when we are busy making plans, and it is really painful when our expectations, for reasons completely outside our control, are trampled on. I know people are having to re-arrange weddings, trips to see loved ones, exams etc. Really big things that have been looked forward to and worked towards for a long long time. It stinks, it really does, be angry, sad, whatever it is you feel about it, but then try to move on.
When things are outside our control, the energy that goes into ruminating about it, is wasted. It changes noting and depletes us. We can learn a lot here from the 12 step programme. Any addict who wants recovery has to stop trying to control their addiction. Admitting they are powerless frees up energy for living a different way, which is why the serenity prayer guides so many people.
Grant me the Serenity
To accept the things, I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Covid-19 is way outside of our control, so living with acceptance of that, has got to be easier than fighting against it.
Stay in touch.
We may be forced into physical isolation, but we’re blessed with skype, zoom, facetime, what’s app and I’m sure, many other ways of keeping in touch through technology. Wasn’t it heart-warming to see Italians connecting through music across their balconies and the Spanish joining together in their isolation to applaud their medics? This is a time to be reaching out and sharing as best we can.
I’ve just been outside and listened to the bird song for a few minutes. Nature, despite all we do to it, has a way of enduring. I find it comforting to see the sun rising and falling each day, the flowers coming up. If you can’t get out and experience it for yourself, then consider an app of nature sounds, or webcams of beautiful sites around the world.