How’s your anxiety level at the moment? With the 24-hour news cycle constantly flinging chaos through every screen in our homes, it’s tough. What do you do when each social media post seems more grim than the next? Perhaps the kids or spouse are now home for work and school and everyone is sharing the same space for an indefinite period of time. Perhaps you’re in awe of the madness of hoarding or controversially, the utter kindness of strangers. Either way, when the word pandemic is bantered around, countries literally shut boarders and flights ground – it’s often hard to find the calm amidst the chaos. What do you do when it all gets a bit too hairy?
Talk about a gratitude practice, right? When my brain spirals, I try to get there quickly, but it’s often hard. Me and my asthmatic lungs have been staying put for over a week now. It seems scary to even go to the parking garage, leave the apartment to take the rubbish down the hall or even contemplate finding a wide open space – you know, since it still seems that not everyone is in on the social distancing lockdown situation. Perspective is a wonderful thing, gratitude is imperative and both help to flip the switch from anxiety to peace – but these days it’s even harder to get there than before. I’m grateful for our studio apartment in the center of San Diego. I’ve never wanted anything bigger, love everything about it and know how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads, a place to call our own and one that includes a space to get outside for that quick hit of invigorating vitamin D – trust me, I know and I’m grateful. Still, the fear and anxiety can take your brain for a wild ride. It’s a sneaky little sucker – you’re in the midst of writing, cleaning, working out – it doesn’t matter – when anxiety wants your attention it knocks loudly until it gets its way.
Breathe – just breathe. “The Harvard Medical School said in its latest health guideline that, yoga, meditation and controlled breathing are “some tried and true ways to relax“. If yoga isn’t your thing, no worries – unless of course you want to give it a try and see how it rolls. Whether you’re using one of the multiple meditation apps like Calm or Headspace, watching those spirals go in and out to focus your attention and breathing or sitting on your own cushion and letting yourself feel all the feelings – try something and know you’re not alone. I am eternally grateful for the yoga community who still manages to help us all feel connected, grounded and a little more centered – at least for those moments on the mat. We all need it now. Those staying home and those guardian angels saving the day at work. Everyone needs a way to manage the insanity of the experience that’s going on right now.
This isn’t easy for anyone. Perspective is a wonderful gift, too. There are those who are able to work from home, feed their families in a safe space and take care of their loved ones. For each person who can do all of those things, there’s someone else who cannot. There are those out there saving the world whose jobs don’t rest in the time of a pandemic. There are those who are food insecure, not in a safe space and don’t have the financial ability to sustain long periods of unemployment. If you can help someone, lift someone up, donate some knowledge, money or time – whatever you can do will have an impact. In a time that feels utterly uncertain, if we focus on the things we can control and let go of the ones we can’t – there’s a lift, a slight ease and an awareness of a little more breathing space. However we can find the ease, it’s worth it.
I don’t have all of the answers; in fact, I only have what I know works for me and faith that this is not at all the end of humanity. I’m focused on looking for those joys, finding the good in others and seeking communication with those who lift my spirits. I take comfort in Italians singing from balconies, in fitness instructors running classes in Spain for people confined to their own terraces and in those caremongering Canadians who always seem to be able to find the good. I take comfort in watching so many do their part in their small corner of the world to make someone else’s small corner that much better. If you can help, do so. Whether it’s distilleries making hand sanitizer, start ups 3D printing ventilator valves, fashion designers making masks and medical gear, artists sharing cheer through talent or the simple act of checking in on each other to be there in whatever way helps – do it.
I will always agree with Mr. Roger’s mother and her advice to ‘look for the helpers’. They’re there – they’re always there. We need more of them, we need to focus on the good, we need to do the good – that’s how the world hugs each other in a time when we quite literally can’t wrap our arms around strangers and loved ones. It’s up to each one of us to look for them and to be them. In a time of social distancing, communication isn’t lost – we only need to seek it in different ways. The world is quite literally figuring it all out together and trying, in whatever small ways we can to see the light through the darkness and the rainbow amidst the storm. Give yourself permission to step away for awhile. Take heart in knowing there are those rushing to make things better. Take heart in believing that things will get better. It’s up to each and every one of us to do our part to get us there. Amidst the chaos, there is ease – it’s a just a little harder to find these days. Perhaps its our acts of kindness towards one another that will help bring that ease to the forefront.
To every healthcare professional, first responder, emergency worker, infrastructure supporter, effective and kind leader and everyone on the front lines of this fight – the world is forever in your debt. Endless gratitude, light, love and for the moment – virtual hugs. You are the superheroes – we see you, we appreciate you. You are the angels who will save the day. We believe in you. We love you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.