Are You feeling a little crazy right now? Me too. And we are not alone.
People all over the world are feeling gripped with fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and a hundred and one different varieties of loss. In short, with grief. People tend to think of death when we use the word “grief,” but the truth is that any kind of loss and change can trigger grief and everything that can go along with it. Grief is what we’re all feeling right now as we worry and wait for the next piece of news, all the while trying to go about living with some semblance of normalcy which, for most of us, is taking place almost entirely within the four walls of wherever we call home.
Life as we knew it, indefinitely disrupted.
While each person’s situation and circumstances are unique, everybody’s lives are disrupted. And everyone is grieving the loss of any semblance of daily life as they knew it until so recently.
As a clinician in a college counseling center (we’re all working remotely now), I’m hearing a lot of students say they feel like they’re in shock. And in a way, they are. As are we all. It can help to remember that the Covid-19 crisis is still very new. None of us have had any real time to assimilate anything they’re feeling, never mind what’s going on in the world. It has all happened (and is still happening) fast.
Teens and twenty-somethings, many of whom are still in school, are suffering their own version of these experiences as they, like the rest of us, begin reckoning with the sudden disconnection from the people, communities, and routines they have lived and loved until just a few weeks ago.
The New Plan A: a secret superpower for how to cope in these uncertain times.
It’s all about how to create and sustain your emotional wellbeing in hard times, whatever they are. We are mind-body-spirit creatures, which just means that what we think, what we do, and how we feel are connected. Each one affects the other ones. So the secret superpower of reclaiming and maintaining emotional wellbeing, no matter what is going on outside of us, is all about harnessing the power of a few simple self-care practices. Not just understanding them conceptually or abstractly, but actually doing them. Over and over again.
Start with the mind. Begin raising your awareness of what’s going on in your head. Get more familiar with your typical thoughts, especially the ones that recur, and most especially if they’re negative. If you find yourself gripped by negative thoughts, consider making up an affirmation to the contrary and practicing saying it to yourself over and over again: things like, “I am safe. I can trust myself to know what to do. This too shall pass.”
The reason affirmations are important is that we tend to believe the things we tell ourselves, especially when we tell them to ourselves over and over again. Even f they’re not actually, factually true, we start to think that they are. And if what we’re telling ourselves is relentlessly negative or even just colored by our fears and anxieties, we can’t help not feeling increasingly bad.
Now, consider your body. All of the stress you’re feeling is neurochemically encoded. That means that it’s circulating throughout your body and affecting every system in your body. So you have to get up and move. The more you move, the more you release it. It’s like the difference between moving water and standing water. Moving water is cleaner and fresher and clearer. You don’t have to be an olympic athlete. You just have to move. Stand up, stretch, walk, do some yoga or tai chi; put on music that gets you going and dance, or sing, or both! Break a sweat. You will definitely feel a positive difference.
And the thing about spirit, how you feel, is that it pretty much follows from the other two, mind and body. So when you find yourself feeling down, or anxious, or angry, or any tumultuous combination of unpleasant feelings, take a look at what’s going on in your head. And if you’ve been sedentary for too long, get up and move.
The ABCs of The New Plan A are simple.
Just think ABC: Acceptance, deep and complete, one Breath at a time, with Compassion for yourself and for everyone else too. These practices are at the root of emotional wellbeing no matter what our current challenges are. Situations and circumstances may change, but the practices are always the same.
Click below to listen to the podcasts I made for you about how to cope in the time of Covid-19.