You could not write a better fiction than the one we’re living now. A "foreign" virus spreading like wildfire across the globe. People panicking and running for the hills – but not before plundering the shops clear of loo rolls; opportunists buying up precious stock to sell on e-Bay to the highest bidder; companies having to embrace remote working, whatever their state of preparedness; governments yielding war-time-like power, confining us to house arrest.
So that’s the bad and the ugly. Where, you say, is the good?
For weeks we’ve been bombarded by social media rants about action, inaction, people’s fears and reactions. I suppose people are still processing what’s happening. What impresses me, however, is how communities are coming together to help. Every neighbourhood has seen a number of community WhatsApp groups spring up with the aim of helping those in self-isolation and worse. Food banks are staying open, offering relief. Messages of hope and a new way of life are flooding our devices. We are finally seeing the human side of the pandemic – and it is remarkable.
In playing our part, we consulted our own experts, trainers and coaches and asked them to share their advice on how not to get disheartened about the inconveniences, the worries about others, the economy and the future. I have captured their thoughts below:
- Focus on what positive change could come from this time of challenge – as a society realising what matters, being less greedy, re-finding real community.
- Consider how we are all in this together, whilst some will be more adversely affected in terms of health and finances, nobody is 100% immune.
- Use the time for activities and to spend time with those we love that is usually hard to do in our busy lives.
- Massive global traumas have happened before and the world is still turning.
- My mindfulness practice stops me getting overwhelmed, it calms me (Headspace is now offering free 'Weather the Storm’ meditations).
- Worrying won't change anything, but it will change how we feel, so let's focus on the positive. Start a list of all of the pleasant surprises or other benefits that have come from this situation. Increased community spirit, trying sweet potatoes instead of white ones, having time to play board games in the week.
- Stay connected - in times like these it’s natural to want to cocoon yourself - get out there and talk to people
- Reframe the situation. It occurred to me during a coaching session that all norms are gone. So, if you have new boundaries, habits or patterns you want to establish, this is the best time to give them a go.
- Limit your exposure to social media (SM) and news channels. SM is a great way to stay connected but is currently the main source of anxiety! Restrict yourself to an hour or so per day.
- People are talking about using this time for self-improvement, to “become the best person they can be”, or to be home-schooling supremo. But if that’s not where your head is right now, that’s absolutely fine too. These are worrying times. So - ignore the “self-actualisers”. Do what YOU need to do, to feel safe and well. If that means watching Friends re-runs in your PJs, do it.
- Maintaining a ‘stiff upper lip’ is all very well, but give yourself space to feel whatever you’re feeling. Suppressed feelings - fear, sadness, anger - have a habit of popping up and causing havoc when you (and your family) least expect them to. Let them wash over you, remind yourself that the feelings will pass, then move on.
And finally, one of the coaches offered this quote by Laura Kelly Fanucci:
When this is over, may we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with the neighbours
A crowded theatre
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine check-up
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be
We were called to be
We hoped to be
And may we stay better for each other because of the worst.
So, let us relish the good, know that the bad will pass and stave off the ugly. Stay well, look after yourselves and loved ones and remember what it means to be human.
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