Keeping Calm & Carrying On

Taking time to stop and breathe.

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I wrote this column for The Tribune, Nassau, Bahamas, March 31st 2020

I think most of us know that phrase or some humorous version of it but there’s a lot of truth contained in the original version “Keep Calm and Carry on” which was designed as a poster in England during World War II and was intended to be a morale booster. It was never actually used at that time appearing only after the war ended. We may dismiss this saying as just one of those things that have come into current usage and which we might repeat without thinking. But let’s think about what those words really mean and how they can be applied in this current Coronovirus situation.

Our movements are currently restricted but instead of being frustrated that the normal pattern of our lives has been disrupted, let’s take it as a good thing: an opportunity to stop the merry-go-round of the daily busyness, sit back, take some deep breaths and relax. Stilling the mind and slowing down is important at any time to allow us to think clearly, to steady ourselves and to focus. We now have this time, so let’s look at it as a benefit. Let’s steady ourselves, reduce the fear and ‘count our blessings’. In these days of forced isolation most of us I hope are taking all the recommended health precautions of extra house cleaning and have likely taken the opportunity to clean our cupboards or maybe sort out files and clear up e.mails or extra stuff on our computers. So let’s clear our minds in the same way; stop, think and plan for how we would like our lives to be when this crisis is over. We can question whether or not we want our lives to slip back into the same old routine or if we would like to start doing some things differently. We can tap into our own creativity if we take this time and make a space for ourselves. It’s not selfish or counter-productive, it’s a way to become more effective in various aspects of our life. We can dream, plan and discuss  with our family or friends, whether we occupy the same space or if we are doing it over the internet. Instead of just sending jokes or trolling Facebook or Instagram – don’t get me wrong it’s very healthy and healing to have a good laugh and to communicate – but it’s equally beneficial to take time to pause, be still and gather our thoughts, just as essential as sleep is for our bodies and minds.

It helps and will help us in the future, if we can assess our own response to this very anxious-making time and if we feel we are managing to weather this particular storm successfully. Of course it’s uncomfortable to have our movements restricted but it’s necessary for our future and the futures of our friends, families and neighbours. If we think things through we can ask ourselves this question: if we have food on the table, a roof over our head, how much do we really have to complain about? I know we as individuals and as business owners are suffering severe financial losses and for us to recover we must learn some strong coping mechanisms. Can we view this time as an opportunity to grow mentally and emotionally and come up with creative ideas to re-establish our lives when this is all over just as many are still having to do in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian? 

Being able to stay calm in times of stress, think coherently and rationally will always be important because when this current situation ends – and it will – there will inevitably be another crisis of some kind, they are part of life. Whether it’s personal or a regional or universal event, it requires the same reasoned approach to handle each one effectively. As I said in last week’s column, fear is contagious but so is the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity, so let’s keep spreading the positive. Keep calm – “this too shall pass”.

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