March 15th, 2020. It’s an interesting time in the world right now, one that we will get through but will forever change us. My thoughts and feelings about the coronavirus pandemic is evolving daily. You may feel the same way. Am I concerned? Yes. Am I cautious? Yes. Am I anxious? At times, yes.
There is a spectrum of feelings and emotions that may arise during times of uncertainty, ranging from ignorance to obsessive. In my personal opinion the danger lies in the extremes, too ignorant and you risk your life and those of others, too obsessive and you compromise your mental health and fail to recognize the truth. During this time try your best to stay centered, grounded, and in the middle of the spectrum – calm yet cautious.
I’m concerned about how our mental health will weather this storm. We already were facing high rates of stress and burnout prior to the pandemic, it’s only going to get worse.
You might be thinking – it’s hard enough to stay calm when there’s no pandemic how do I do it now?! I know. Being a highly sensitive person, even with all the yoga and meditation I practice, calm can be fleeting. Just this morning I found myself overwhelmed and anxious. My thoughts were getting the best of me. I felt guilty for leaving the house yesterday, obsessed about washing my hands, and hyper vigilant about my parent’s wellbeing.
In times of uncertainty I find it most helpful to go back to the basics – no that does not include toilet paper for me that’s what a bidet (or a simple cup) is for 🙂 . As you go through the constantly evolving coronavirus pandemic, ground yourself in what you do know, and what you do have control over. For me the basics are – eat.move.meditate. When you focus on getting the basics right you naturally alleviate stress and anxiety in all situations including our current coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what I’m doing to stay calm yet cautious during this time
- Limit news consumption. I want to stay informed but not overwhelmed. Everyone has their sweet spot for information. You have to decide what that boundary is for you, and enforce it. If you’re needs differ from others in your household then make sure to communicate this and decide how all of your needs may be met. Perhaps having an area of your home that is news free where you can hide out.
- Get plenty of sleep. As Benjamin Franklin once said “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. I’ve made it a point to get to bed early to get my eight hours of rest and be up to enjoy the sunrise.
- Move my body daily. With studios and gyms closed right now, I’ve reconnected with my personal yoga practice, walks, and even riding a bike. Moving my body everyday helps to release some of the anxiety and tension.
- Listen to music. Instead of watching the morning news, I listen to ancient indian chants on spotify while having my morning tea. The peaceful start helps me combat whatever news will come my way later.
- Facetime / call friends and family. As a GenXer I remember the days of phone calls that lasted hours. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, now is your opportunity to discover the real purpose of a phone. Fortunately we also have facetime, it’s been a joy to connect with friends and family daily.
- Drink plenty of water. Because, why not? With our bodies over 70% water, we need to replenish our resources to keep things flowing. Especially right now. When you’re feeling stressed and anxious your body is released loads of chemicals to manage the emotion. Just enough helps you fight/flight/tend to the situation too much however, becomes straight up toxic. All this to say drink your 64+ ounces.
- Diffuse essential oils. High quality essential oils do more than make your space smell good. They breakdown into little particles in the air that we inhale, eventually making their way into our system and providing therapeutic relief. I use Do Terra essential oils in the following blends: Frankincense, Soothing, and Peppermint. Most diffusers will work just fine, I have this one mostly because I like the design.
- Watch comedy shows. There is nothing like some comic relief to lighten the mood. I’ve been watching Indian comedy by Vir Das, it was hilarious.
Whatever you do, make sure you it’s working for you. If you find yourself in a constant state of stress, then something needs to change. Take this time to really tap into what you need for self care.
What are you doing to remain calm yet cautious during these uncertain times?
Peace & Love,
Ritu Riyat is an Silicon Valley Health Coach and Workplace Wellbeing Strategist. She writes about simple habits to support sustainable health through food, movement, and meditation. Download her free guide to a more mindful life.