Here in New Zealand we are on Day 3 of total Lockdown for the COVID19 Pandemic. I know it’s early days and at this point I’m feeling pretty good but I also know things may get tough and I’ll probably experience waves of different emotions as we go through this.
I wanted to share with you what I’m noticing is helping and what is harming my ability to stay centred. Part 1 will be all about the things I am noticing are harming or at the least not helping my mood and outlook. Part 2 Things that Help will be sharing those things that are supportive and might be useful to adopt if you haven’t already.
Show up as your authentic self
Firstly, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do right now is to show up authentically as you are. This means with whatever baggage you may be carrying, with whatever emotions you are feeling.
We need to eradicate the idea that there is any proper, cool, correct or glamorous way to deal with crisis.
So here are some things that have the potential to increase stress and anxiety for me. Some may apply to you too and you will no doubt have other things that are personal to your circumstances. That’s why I work 1:1 with my clients because all of us differ slightly in our situations.
Things that harm:
Questioning – How long will this situation last?
How long is a piece of string? It really is as pointless a question. No one really knows the answer. On some level it depends how compliant everyone is with the measures that have been put in place to flatten the curve. It also depends how virulent the virus is, how much testing is available, how well contacts can be traced, how the medical system copes with the overload, whether a vaccine can be developed and how widely it will be distributed. There are just too many variables. We have to let this question go unanswered for now and be okay with that.
Getting angry about the behaviour of others
What other’s choose to do is completely out of our own sphere of control. We can choose to point fingers, rant, dob-in or publicly shame others for flouting the rules. But does it help? Does it reduce your own stress levels? My guess is No. Chances are these people are doing something that you yourself did only last week, like go to the beach.
There will always be people who take a little longer to ‘get it’ and there will be those for whatever reason don’t have the same capacity for empathy or public responsibility. You could try having a conversation with them if you can stay calm and you think they will listen. Getting angry won’t change them and won’t make you feel any better either. Save your energy for better things.
Being offended by the thinking of others
Humans are touchy, feely creatures who thrive with tangible social interaction. This social distancing stuff is so completely unnatural to us that it can easily come off as being rude, uncaring and even bring up trauma responses around rejection for some.
We need to be gentle with ourselves and realise that many people are in Fear mode and the energy they give off is a reflection of that. It’s not helpful for us to hold onto feelings of being offended or insulted at this time. We are all just trying to messily learn how to do life at a distance.
Obsessively checking for updates or following the figures
I think we need one of those exponential graphs that we are becoming familiar with, showing how many times you check the media or social media for updates, correlated with a rise in anxiety.
Checking for updates, frequent scrolling and taking note of the growing figures of cases and deaths is really unhelpful if you are wanting to reduce anxiety. My advice is to choose trusted sources only and strictly limit your time looking at these.
On social channels I also recommend unfollowing anyone who seems consumed with the fear of this situation. This also includes ‘experts’ by the way. I’ve read a couple of articles now by expert journalists whose words do little to mask an underlying view of fear and pessimism. If you’re struggling with mood right now, be critical of your sources and choose wisely.
Wet towels on the floor
This is really my metaphor for anything within the home that has the potential to increase stress levels. Many of us are living with new family members or returning family members who have previously left home.
Most of us are adapting to everyone being home all of the time now. The realities of less personal space within the confines of Home are ironically opposed to the social distancing we are experiencing outside our four walls.
If you find yourself losing your composure over something small at home this is good indication of underlying stress bubbling over and it’s time to have a sit down with yourself to nut out what’s really going on.
If it really matters and has a direct impact on you then it goes on the non-negotiable list. It’s up to you to take responsibility and explain to others what is vitally important to your wellbeing at home. If it’s something less vital that you can learn to relax standards on for this time period I suggest you practice some ‘domestic Zen’ and breathe your way through the wet towels. Oh wait, that’s if wet towels aren’t your personal deal breaker of course!
Stay tuned for Part 2 on “Things that Help”