Updated: Apr 13, 2020
There is a lot going on in the world right now with the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all collectively experiencing these uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty and fearing the unknown, with our own individual feelings all layered up on top of that. We might be feeling isolated (with isolation/quarantine, this is of course incredibly common), displaced, fearful, scared, unsure, confused, stressed, depressed, anxious, and some of us may be feeling a sense of loss or grief. Whatever way you are feeling right now, you are not alone. These feelings are normal and no one could have expected or predicted that life would have turned out this way. 2020 was supposed to be THE year, right?! We were all going to get our sh*t together, we were going to achieve all of the goals, we were going to go to all of those events and concerts, travel the globe finally, and do all the things we wanted to.
Our plans have come to a halt and it feels like the world has been put on hold. A big fat [ERROR] message has been pasted across the planet. One week of closures became two, two weeks became a month, and the uncertainty continues to rise. A major theme in all of this, is that many things are currently outside of our control. So what can we control? What can we do to start to lean in to the discomfort and surrender to the uncertainty? Here are some tips, notes, points, things you may have already heard .. whatever they might be for you.
Focus on what's IN your Control
Earth has been shaken up like one of those snow globes - many pieces are floating around, some might be starting to stick back down to the ground, and we are waiting for the rest to begin to fall into their new place. When you shake up one of those snow globes, no matter how hard you try, you can't make those little bits of snow fall down any faster. We have to let it go at it's own pace and surrender to it all, accepting it as it is. This can be difficult, especially for those who are impatient (*raises hand*). However, I have found that focusing on the stuff that's outside of my control doesn't really help at all to make me feel any better. I can't rush this process, but what I can do, is focus on the things I am in control of. I am in control of what I choose to focus on. I am in control of how I set up my mood for the day (well, sometimes.. let's be honest). I am in control of what I do today. I am in control of how I schedule and use my time. I am in control of the words I use and how I use them. [I'm going to quickly state on that last note, how powerful words are and the meanings that they hold. Saying what you can do instead of what you can't; what you get to do instead of what you are not able to. "I get to try home workouts," "I get to test out new ways to connect with my loved ones while we practice physical distancing."]
It might help you to make a list of the things that are you in control of. This can potentially have you feeling more empowered, more calm and more present. Practicing self-awareness and learning more about yourself and what you can do, can be a great place to begin to build yourself up.
You can even begin to ask yourself "what is my current reality?" My current reality is that I'm listening to my cats crunch on their food loudly, I'm typing on my computer and it's placed awkwardly and I can feel my shoulders hurt because of it, and I'm wearing really comfy sweatpants but a blouse up top in case a work meeting spontaneously was called. This so effortlessly brought me to a place of right now and nowhere else. This is essentially practicing mindfulness and bringing yourself to a place of what currently is; just noticing, without judgment. And no, I definitely was not judging my attire today. We're all doing it, right?
Stay Curious and Ask Yourself Questions
We don't like uncertainty and the unknown, do we? As humans, we're constantly looking for what's next and our brains like to make up stories to fill in the gaps when things are uncertain. Sometimes this might be because we're trying to prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario, we want to know what's going to happen so we try to predict it all to protect ourselves, or maybe we're anticipating how we will feel when this future moment comes so we can gauge what steps to take next. Life is so uncertain. We know that we are here and we're certain that one day we will die. That is blunt, I know, but we seriously don't know everything that's going to happen. With these feelings and stories we begin to make up, I encourage you to get curious and begin to catch yourself in these moments. Our brains are going down it's most usual and normal route. Think of it like a bus route. Now try to divert it and change the path so that it goes down a different track - one that will be more beneficial to you. Begin to question what it is that's underlying this need to know what's going to happen. So many of us have many valid worries and stressors, so perhaps it's that. Bring in your awareness and try to begin accepting what is and what isn't. Ask yourself questions like: what is this about? Where is this coming from? Is this anxiety, fear? What's the underlying emotion? When have I done this before and what happened then?
Speaking of that last question, here's an exercise for you. Begin to think of all the times you were uncomfortable with the discomfort and feeling really uncertain, that you began making up all these stories. Think about what happened. What was the event, what did you make up, what did you believe was going to happen, what actually happened? Reflect on past experiences to help bring you to a place of awareness. What were the tools you needed to get through that experience? Looking back now, what would you tell your past-self? How would you help them cope, what tools would you give them, what would you tell them to accept and what would you tell them to let go? Try this one out and see if it works for you.
Some Tips to Help You
To round out this blog, here are some tips and tools to consider for today, tomorrow and the however many next days.
- Create a schedule. This is something you can control. Create blocks of time so that you know what's happening next, if this is something that helps to ground you. Leave space for times to simply just be. Perhaps even make space in case something comes up!
- Fuel your Body
Try to eat a balanced diet and fuel your body with foods that will nourish you. However, don't deny yourself the treats if you want one. Do what feels intuitive for you, but if you find you're feeling sluggish, perhaps checking in on what's going inside your body might be a place to start.
- Get Moving
Try to incorporate some exercises, gentle movements, dancing (a dance with your discomfort, perhaps?), skipping, or maybe it's chasing your kiddos around the home. Get a little sweat on and get your body moving to help boost those endorphins.
- Try a New Project
What's something you've always wanted to do that you now have the time/resources to do? Maybe it's learning a new language, writing a book, creating an art piece, painting. Try out the hobbies and projects you've wanted to try. Try not to place pressure on yourself, by the way. If you're not feeling it right now and you need more time to feel what you need to, listen to your body and mind.
- Self Care & Compassion
Practice self care and be gentle with yourself. What feels good to you and what do you want more of in your life in the relaxation and self-love department? Show yourself some self-compassion and love.
- Limit Screen Time
I have found that I have been on my screens, tv, phone.. SO much. It's hurting my eyes. Be kind to your eyes. Given that we're all communicating via conference calls, Skype, Houseparty, Zoom .. it's good to give your eyes a much needed rest.
- Look at Credible Sources
Reduce the noise of uncertainty by trying to only look at credible, researched and fact-checked sources. We don't need to pay attention to conspiracy theories or what someone heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. Take in your news from places you trust and that have some science backed behind it if possible.
If you're starting to feel overwhelmed and out of control, bring it right back to your breath. Try some deep breathing to bring yourself back to a place of here and now. A place where you're moving moment to moment. Envision something that will make you happy. Perhaps some future visioning meditation where you're looking 5 years from now and where you can be. If that feels overwhelming, given we're talking of uncertainty here, take it step by step, breath by breath, day by day.
- Stay Connected
We don't have to social distance, just physically distance. Keep in touch with loved ones and friends. Maintaining these connections can have a huge impact on us. Spread kindness and good thoughts to others. Perhaps reaching out to your therapist or coach can be a great start if you're having a hard time through all of this.
- Practice Gratitude
What are you grateful for? What are things that you are thankful for at this moment and how can you express that? If you're grateful for others, tell them and maybe write them a letter saying the reasons why. Get really specific when you practice gratitude and write it out if you can. Writing in any form is so cathartic. I'm actually going to make one more point because it's so helpful.
- Write it Out
Write out your feelings. It's amazing how untangled our thoughts become when we see it all on paper.
I hope these help you today and that you begin to find a place of self-awareness and acceptance. We are all in this together. Stay connected, show love, be compassionate and let's all have some hope. If you have questions, please reach out. Take good care of yourselves so we can all take care of each other.
You got this.
PS. I had a great chat with the lovely folks over at Elmwood Spa about this topic on their Wellness Series, where we had a live discussion on their Instagram page. Check out a recap of their wellness week here to catch up and to see the awesome experts they have on their series. Remember to follow along for next week's discussion on relationships! @elmwoodspa