Six months ago, most of us wouldn’t have heard of Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province.
And our only association with Corona, would have been in its capacity as a popular brand of carbonated soft drink.
Yet these have become synonymous with one of the most overwhelming pandemics of this generation, spread to countries globally.
The pandemic has no passport and isn’t aware of borders, yet it has transcended most corners of the earth.
Governments are trying their best to keep abreast and provide continuous guidance, but nevertheless, it has left the public feeling confused and disorientated. There are so many questions we have. How long will it linger around for and what should we do to keep it at bay?
It has also brought us face to face with our worst possible fear.
Uncertainty and the unknown.
It’s worse than dealing with terrorist threats, suicide bombers and recessions.
After all, in those cases, we at least knew the enemy. This time though, we’re at the mercy of something that is totally unknown and doesn’t discriminate between cultures, religions, the rich or poor. It’s an invisible enemy and one that we’ve never dealt with before.
As it’s developed, it’s been named coronavirus and has been accompanied by a variety of symptoms to watch out for.
Throughout its remarkable growth, it has paralysed businesses, stock markets and induced a buying spree of epic proportions.
Long queues in supermarkets and a severe shortage of toilet paper has ensued, I’m still somewhat confused about this one. It took me 4 days to find a store that would be prepared to sell me one modest pack of toilet rolls.
This is what anxiety does to the general public, it makes them run like headless chickens, making decisions that really don’t make sense at all. Others watch in awe and copy those around them, and a mass hysteria then follows.
Those of us would rather do something, anything just to allay the hysteria surrounding this.
The scaremongering grows and it takes a while to pull apart what is truth and what is simply hearsay. It’s a case of Chinese whispers, excuse the pun.
So how do we curb our anxiety when the current climate has us feeling confused and fearful?
Firstly, we need to own that we’re anxious.
Yes, own it.
Own your own fear, anxiety and paralysis as the situation has unfolded. Remember that what you resist persists, so don’t resist it, just surrender to this feeling. It’s totally okay to feel scared and anxious, you’re not alone, we’re all living it together globally. That’s the one thing that is now connecting us all.
Which takes me to the next point.
Connect with others around you.
If they’re self-isolating at the moment, then facetime or skype them. Keep connected and in conversation to make them feel less isolated, you never know the difference you can make.
Let this pandemic bring out the best, not the worst in you.
Unlike the great plague of 1665, a time where there was no internet, you’re now able to connect online. Take the opportunity to reach out to friends or family members who might be feeling lonely if they’re forced to spend the fortnight indoors. Perhaps leave a thoughtful gift or even a package of food outside their door.
This is the time for us all to pull together and become really mindful of each other.
Make the endless ritual of washing your hands more purposeful.
Use the countless times you have to wash your hands an opportune to create a mindful intention, gratitude practice or pray for someone you love.
Use the 20 seconds of washing to create something, remember that if you do this each time, you’ll create hours worth of inspirational moments.
Take a regular break from news coverage and social media.
There is the pandemic, which needs practical steps and actions, and then there is the infodemic of the constant bombardment of news stories sensationalising every detail of what might lie ahead.
You can be informed but not inundated.
Taking a break from the news and social media might really help to ease tension and stress. You can log in regularly for 15 minutes at a time to make sure you don’t miss any important updates, and then log out.
I recently did this during the last weekend, and I felt the calmest I had felt in a long while. The news detox allowed me to re-centre and get a sense of perspective while making sure I was keeping safe and healthy. I used this time to catch up on some great box sets which were far better for more my morale.
Meditate daily to find a silent place within.
I never quite got myself into a regular meditation habit, but have recently been meditating daily to keep myself grounded. There are some wonderful app’s out there, you can try headspace which currently has a free trial.
This practice allows you to create a sanctuary, no matter how noisy and crazy the world is out there, you can find a silent place within, to centre yourself and create new intentions.
You can do this while making practical plans for you and your family, one doesn’t exclude the other, but in fact, finding a space of sanctuary will make you a far better decision-maker and action taker with less stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
You’ll be much better able to deal with the changes occurring day to day, even if it’s for 10–15 minutes daily.
Increase your time spent in nature.
One of the most important rituals I’ve developed in the past week has been spending more time in nature, in fact, my dog has never had so many walks.
Nature brings calm and peace, it eases tension and walking can really clear your mind, give you more clarity and make an enormous difference. As we observe the spring flowers blossom it can make us hopeful. No matter how difficult things are now, we have to hold onto hope that there will be a brighter time ahead.
Laughter is the best medicine of all.
If anyone were to give an antidote for the coronavirus, it would have to be laughter. I know that within this time of uncertainty, we can always find laughter, it brings light to the situation. Watch and consume as many comedies and stand up shows as you can.
Laughter is really the best medicine of all. Your sense of humour provides a powerful antidote to suppress the effects of stress as these indirectly affect your ability to help you cope on the tough days. Dozens of studies have now examined the impact of humour and laughter on the immune system. This is a powerful way to become more resilient in the face of uncertainty.
Find other topics of conversation periodically.
Change the conversation as often as you can, as the coronavirus seems to be the main topic of conversation on everyone’s lips. Understandably, as most people have it at the forefront of their minds.
Taking regular breaks from the same topic of conversation can ease some of the tension. You want to keep away from the more negative amongst your friends who talk about it in quite a morbid way.
I happened to come across a woman at the hairdressers who spent 20 minutes cataloguing every worst-case scenario at the top of her voice. Needless to say, I had to walk out. This doesn’t help anyone.
Develop an attitude of gratitude.
Within the pain and sense of uncertainty we’re facing, find at least 3 things in your day that you can be grateful for, however small. It doesn’t mean you don’t see the difficulty and pain that surrounds you. You can acknowledge it, but also don’t miss the beauty that is also here.
Once we get back to normal we will appreciate all the things we were deprived of and took for granted. Those things we were denied whilst we remained in lockdown. Restaurants, theatres, cafe’s and places of worship that were shut down, all those things we assumed would always be there.
We will appreciate them so much more, once they return.
Being a positive force to others.
If you do this, you will become a beacon of light amongst what is currently a dark time that we all share globally.
We’ve seen the Italians doing this whilst on lockdown by sitting on their tiny balconies, guitar balanced on their knee singing and dancing. I have no doubt that as Spain locks down, you’ll find flamenco dancers on their windows and balconies entertaining the rest of the public.
This is how some of us find a way to be resilient in the most difficult of times.
By pulling together and looking outside our visceral vision, sometimes marred by intense anxiety, and seeing beyond ourselves out into the world, and asking what our role can be in this.
We need to keep safe, protect our loved ones, connect to those who are isolated and use this time to find ways to surpass this.
Everyone is in a similar boat with the Coronavirus pandemic, but what will set each of us apart is how we will choose to navigate the rough sea we’re currently on.
If this article resonated with you, check out my latest book Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living available on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, I would love to hear from you. Send a message via e-mail to [email protected]