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Reassurance in the throes of COVID-19

Remember to smell the roses!

Reassurance comes from decreasing doubts and fears. In a crisis like the global spread of COVID-19 it has a significant part to play. Our bodies and minds need rest and repair in order to optimally function and reassurance is as valuable as ever. It doesn’t matter whether you are the prime minister or president of a country, the CEO of a multi-national business, a single person, a parent, a teen who is finishing their last year at school, a 4 year old or among the elderly.

It’s increasingly evident that we are in for the long haul. The truth is that uncertainty is real. The constantly changing news is anxiety provoking and we are gearing up for worse. Everyone is making life adjustments, hopefully temporary. Even the most steady of us are being tested. With an academic background in public health and a recent small business owner, I can see imminent compromising impacts. Being a yoga teacher and parent too, I can’t afford to have my head in the clouds or in the sand for that matter. Yet all of us can make room for some reassurance.

We are having conversations with family, friends, mentors, teachers, workmates and even perfect strangers so let reassurance have some air time. Some of us are getting just as much or more reassurance from our pets and getting out in nature too.

Many of us rely on information from authorities for our reassurance. In the past few weeks, we’ve been increasingly tuning in to our respective governments for clarity and direction. We want information from credible sources. We have to be patient but have hard conversations and make difficult decisions when it counts. We need to continue to be productive in ways that matter to us and our community.

I read a good description recently that there are different camps of us – the doomsday preppers, the man-flu whiners, the stiff upper lippers, the toilet paper hoarders, the hypochondriacs and the sunny optimists. I’d add the pragmatists and the all-knowing groups too!

What is missing is giving each camp the benefit of the doubt that we derive reassurance in our own unique ways. Can we listen more and speak less? Can we have our opinions but not have as harsh judgment? There is not one right way of behaving in times like these and can we give each other a little reassurance by accepting that everyone is doing their best?

Some groups have felt marginalized or even disposable and devalued, but everybody counts. Whether we are babies, young children, teens/young adults, adults or elderly no one is left behind when it comes to benefiting from reassurance.

If we are attached to our device and spouting the latest facts and figures to anyone who will listen, we may think this is reassuring. The more academic amongst us are reassured by verifying these figures with the latest research, reputable agencies and experts from around the world and we may think this is reassuring too. If we are more comfortable with the mysteries and unknowns in life, we may be turning to spiritual realms for relief. So we are getting our ‘fix’ in different ways.

Navigating this pandemic is tough.  The best and brightest are in the front line steering the way forward, finding a treatment and eventually a vaccination. It will happen. There are decisions being made that will be analyzed and scrutinized in time to come. Everyone is watching this ever changing and challenging global experience.

Reassurance plays a critical part in how we traverse this historical chapter. Some are still able to work, play outside, go to school, sit at a café or get a coffee at least for the time being. Most are social distancing.  Many are self-isolating.  More may be in the near future.

For sure we need to be able to be informed but also spend time expending pent up energy and putting our mind to rest and find things that calm us.  Generating ideas for physical activity and slow mindful practices in the coming weeks can be shared. We can support one another, especially if we aren’t able to go outdoors.

Sharing stories and simple happenings that have a reassuring impact can provide meaning to the fabric of our existence.  This week seek reassurance in beauty rather than beast and share it. This week I observed:

  • A park bench with a bunch of flowers that said ‘please take one, we are here for one another during COVID-19’
  • A friend who set up an online learning platform where groups of families with children that have chronic illnesses come online to unite and allay their worries and fears and share ways of coping during the crisis
  • Healthcare workers admitting their vulnerability while taking all kinds of measures to be mentally ready for what is to come
  • People buying essential food items for those that don’t have it
  • Multiple friend’s with kids doing it tough without a partner and still offering neighborhood help
  • Many people sharing music, exercise ideas, meditations and yoga
  • Seeing a young child literally smell the roses

We can all spend some time allaying our doubts and fears rather than constantly feeding them. Our minds and bodies deserve the rest.  We may also benefit from some reflection on how we’ve conducted ourselves to date and modify if warranted. We all have a degree of choice in this very moment and in the foreseeable future.

Written by Dr Deb Roberts, PhD

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