Who would have believed that on New Year’s Eve, when some of us were considering our thoughts, hopes and intentions for this year, that the first few months of this brand-new decade would have unfolded like this?
Australia has had it tough with droughts and bushfires. Just as we were beginning to breath and recover, the coronavirus hit hard. All around the world, life has come to a dramatic point of challenge and reflection. It is normal for each of us to be feeling heightened anxiety, sadness, low energy or fear. Particularly when we are confronted by our daily routines being shaken up, walking along the bleak and empty aisles in the shops, planning a meal and not being able to find the usual produce. Events, big and small, special and uplifting, having been cancelled. We find ourselves totally out of our comfort zones and needing to make decisions that were unexpected. People are devastated by having to cancel special occasions, travel plans and get togethers. Work life has taken a turn and many are not earning an income. Those that are most at risk, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are living with greater worries. Those still working in contact with each other live with their own sense of hesitation.
There have been wars, there have been catastrophic events. However, this is the first time in my lifetime that I have lived through something as global, confronting and ever changing as this. The whole world is in shock and dealing with these changes and traumas.
Here is my take on what is happening, on a physical, emotional and spiritual level:
Physically, we have a community responsibility to ourselves, our family and each other, to do what we can to stay well and to not contribute to the spread of this virus. We have heard from the experts that washing our hands regularly and properly, keeping a bit of a distance, reducing the number of people we come face to face with and staying home if we are unwell, are some of the things we can do to help. We can also boost our immune systems by being aware of what we eat, adding extra vitamins and minerals into our daily diet, exercising regularly and staying well hydrated.
Emotionally, there are a number of ways to help ourselves and others through this current world state. Many of us have never experienced this type of fear-mongering call for isolation and reduced comfort zones. The increased anxiety has created a wave of panic and fear amongst many people, rushing to stockpile in case of the worst, treating others with disrespect out of fear of missing out or getting sick, losing focus on who we are and what we prioritise. My favourite word is BALANCE. And in this current climate, this is surely what we need. Yes, it makes sense to gather a bit of extras so we have to go out less, yes it makes sense to feel nervous as the world is increasingly tense. There are also many special people in most of our lives who are at greater risk should they contract the virus, those with lowered immune systems due to other health challenges, the elderly, the very young. So, we worry for them and try to be respectful. How do we maintain the balance of feeling those uncomfortable feelings, keeping updated and aware, staying safe and well, and not feeding into the extreme fear and worry?
Firstly, switch off the news. A little bit of news is important to know what is going on around us and how this affects our daily lives. But switch off the majority of the news. Watch a funny show instead, turn on the music in the car or turn off the volume and listen to the sounds around us. If social media is overwhelming (which it is at the moment), don’t look for a while. If the emails and messages are coming in fast and furious from all the diverse sources of connection we have made in our lives, only choose the relevant ones and delete the rest.
Practice self-care. There is no doubt that the spread of this virus has caused the world a lot of pain. However, on the other side of the coin, here we are, some of us with all this extra time on our hands. Instead of focusing on the world’s fears and panic, switch off a bit and make the time for all those things we have wanted to accomplish for ages but have not made the time for. Such as, cleaning out those clothes cupboards, designing something new, writing, singing, creating, learning, contacting that old friend, going outside, meditating, going for a walk or run, following that online yoga video. For those of us who are working from home, this is an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, to re-evaluate our lives and ask ourselves what has not been working for us, what we would like to change and shift now that life has been put on some sense of compulsory pause.
For those with children, take out the old boardgames, lie in the grass and watch the clouds or the stars, go for family walks or bounce on the trampoline. As much as our lives may have slowed down, so too have the children’s as school or many activities have been placed on hold. Whilst you may be feeling scared or down, take time to clear your mind, to be a role model for the children by stating the facts at an age appropriate level, comfort their fears and answering their questions. Also try to allow the conversation not be bogged down by only this virus.
When anxiety or depression is heightened, take time to sit with some of these feelings. Journal, write, sing, talk to people. Put things into perspective, let your logical and compassionate voice come out and have its powerful and necessary say. The research shows that when we are taking care of our emotional needs, our immune systems are stronger. There are clear links between anxiety and depression and health challenges. So, take the time to look after your emotional needs, which in turn will improve your physical well-being and the healthy cycle can continue.
Let’s also take the time to be grateful to those who continue to work so hard to keep our lives running smoothly, from the rubbish truck drivers, to the grocery packers and delivery people, to the doctors and nurses on the ground working overtime, as well as all those in our lives who have had to make decisions that are in our best interests at the cost of their livelihoods for now.
This is a time for stepping out of our comfort zones, for making unusual decisions in crazy times, for being open to trying things we have never done before. The world is most definitely shifting. For those who have been affected directly by this virus, let us hope that we can place our faith in the various medical professionals and that those who are unwell can rest and heal.
Spiritually, I believe the earth is tired of us and our shenanigans. This virus is a pandemic that is affecting everyone on the planet. A planet that inhabits us all and that we need to be taking better care of. There is no race, class, culture, religion or group that this virus cannot touch. We are all one and this proves it. I am hoping that as quickly and ferociously this virus has appeared, so will it disappear. Many of us were run down, confused, tired, reaching out for a much-needed change or break. It seems as though we are in the cocoon stage of a metamorphosing caterpillar with an opportunity to emerge from this cocoon into the free and beautiful creatures that we truly are. We have the time and space to go within and figure out what our true potentials are, if we can separate from the fear around this virus. We have been forced into this cocoon, so let’s use the space inside to learn and grow and quiet the mind. As much as this virus has brought out the worst in a number of people, through aggression and fear, we have also all seen the rise of compassion, community spirit, love, respect, kindness, thoughtfulness and support for each other.
Our hearts are opening. This is a chance for transformation on a personal and global level, for those of us who are listening. There are huge individual and collective traumas going on right now in the world. If we are aware of this and can hold a space for self-compassion and care for others, we can help to heal these traumas. Amidst all the chaos and worry, we have the chance to use this time for bettering ourselves and the world around us.
In these modern times, there has never been a greater juncture to stay aware, to stay in a loving and compassionate state for ourselves and those around us, to eliminate the parts of our lives that no longer work well for us, to understand that only us humans create the divide between each other, to take better care of ourselves, each other and our planet.
Last night, my family and I were sitting under the stars, and the night sky was so incredibly clear. We imagined what it would be like to look down from that vantage point, onto the earth, at the moment, to have a distance from all this chaos and uncertainty. If we are wanting to find that space, we can imagine it in our minds while we figure out who we are and what we want once all this has come and gone. And it will leave, just as it has arrived. I am sending the entire world a huge, virtual wave of love.