For almost a year now, we have been living and working with the awareness of COVID-19 always in the background.  We have learned to manage our time, work, play, and absolutely everything in relationship to the presence of the virus in the air around us.  We never expected it to affect us as powerfully as it has.  It has caused us to hunker down and stay in place much more than we would have ever done before.  If we are living with other people, we have hunkered down with them.  If they are people that we have some relationship issues with, sheltering in place may be even more difficult.  The presence of the virus in the air has affected our ability to use movement to deal with problems.  Now we have to stay in place.  

During times when we may feel high anxiety, it’s important to focus on what we can control. Begin by focusing on our 5 senses.  What do we taste, touch, see, smell, or hear that helps us deal with this invader? Too often, we focus on what we can’t taste, touch, see, smell, or hear and focus on the “what if’s” that can spiral into more fear and uncertainty. And it can be difficult, when taste and smell have been compromised by people infected with the virus.  You can’t see the virus, either, but when you listen to those who have experienced it --- and hear the impact of now over 465,000 who have died from it --- we may become even more afraid and convinced that escape is unlikely. People are spending more time with friends and family without masking or distancing, and some are avoiding the vaccinations.  Essentially, many have given up. 

How do we counteract this tendency?  What can we say or do that will bring people back to acknowledging their own personal power of survival and recovery?  Here are three LIFE LESSONS that can be helpful.

  1. STAY PHYSICALLY SAFE – Remember how as infants we were “incubated” for nine months before birth.  This is Mother Nature’s way of preparing the physical body for what could otherwise feel like an assault on its being.  Instead, it is an introduction to what will become the continuing expression of this new life.  As we continue to embrace this incubation, evaluate how to manage your isolation, and hunker down with healthy food and drink, perhaps something inspirational to read, a cell phone to reach friends and family, and a computer to keep up to date on what’s going on in the world. Find ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, too.
  1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEELINGS – As a psychotherapist, I begin with the basic feelings that a child experiences --- mad, glad, sad, and scared.  We have lots of other words for these feelings but can identify easily with these.  When we’re mad, we usually want to fight.  There are others who are doing this for you --- your legislators, your military, your scientists, etc.  You can stay “hunkered down” for a while and let them have at it.  When glad, you celebrate.  Right now, you are probably glad to be alive and well.  You celebrate that you are able to take care of yourself and your family.  When sad, you may feel lonely, depressed, weak, and vulnerable.  Its OK to cry, to reach out to be held by a loved one, to talk to yourself or others about how unfair this all seems, and to eventually let go.  In the letting go, you allow yourself to move on, to accept that change can come and that you are not alone in this fight.  You notice the people around you who are getting up and going on.  You listen to the news and discover that “change is coming” right now.  Take a deep breath and accept that you are never alone. When scared, we begin to experience anxiety, which is based upon a negative expectation of our future.  Because we don’t really know what will come next, we project ahead to an old memory of something bad happening and being out of control with making the difference.  Too often, we have run away when we felt scared and don’t even remember how it turned out.  Now, to avoid going even further into negativity, we anchor ourselves in the present and refuse to go into the unknown future with these expectations of doom.  Stop right here and say, “I am OK.”  Notice that your body is safe.  You can still see clearly, hear what is going on, speak if you need to, and reach out and touch something nearby that lets you know that this is real, you are alive and well, and you are safe.
  1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SPIRITUAL SELF – This is the part of you that is related to the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.  It can be connected to some religious affiliation but is not necessarily so.  It is that part of us that seems unexplainable and comes through at times for our support.  Listen to your spiritual self and give it a chance, especially if everything else seems to have failed.  Believe that you are connected to a higher power than yourself and have a special reason to be here on this planet at this time.  While your personal mission may be on hold right now, your spiritual energy can still help you survive this COVID-19 event.  Use whatever name feels acceptable for your spiritual self and give thanks in advance for helping you get through this difficult period.  Release the fear and loneliness into the air with each breath.  Keep sacred the space between “no longer” and “not yet,” as it is the access to what’s possible as we continue to navigate through this pandemic and drive healing for ourselves and others.

As we go forth in the next few days and weeks, remember the life that you had before the COVID 19 has changed and evolved and will continue to do so. Remind yourself that while we mourn the 465,000 people in our country who have died, you are still here.  You have your health and life.  You can help others heal.  Expect the best for our future.

With Best Regards,