As I write this, I’m up in the middle of the night… so much going on in the world and it weighs on me, like it might be for you, too. The corona virus pandemic is having far reaching effects, and will for weeks and months to come – and here’s what you can do to care for yourself through the crisis.
The corona virus has created an unprecedented crisis, at least in my lifetime, and I feel concerned for everyone’s well-being. I’m reflecting not only on the obvious health problems, but the financial impact this will have on so many, far beyond the stock market. Events cancelled, coffee shops and restaurants empty, schools closing. Many will be out of work for some time with little or no income, and I feel for all who will be struggling.
But today I also was aware of feeling anticipatory grief. It looks likely we are headed towards weeks or months of quarantine. While we will be slowing the spread of the virus, we will be faced with a sense of human disconnection.
Humans need connection – not just here online, but face to face, including physical touch. This situation is very disconnecting for many who will feel isolated, no longer able to be at school with friends and teachers, at work with colleagues, at church or social gatherings with our supportive communities. Sports events, a great source of stress relief and recreation for many, are coming to a halt. Even larger family gatherings may be impacted. I know Bat Mitzvahs and Quinceaneras that are being postponed – our meaningful rituals disrupted.
Here are some suggestions to care for yourself – and others – through this challenging time:
- We’re all in this together. I don’t think there will be a single person in the US where I am, and most of the world, that won’t be impacted in some way (unless you’re living out in the woods). Remember that everyone is struggling on some level with this. You’re not alone in your feelings.
- Wish everyone well. I walked around Costco today chanting a prayer to myself: “May you and I be well and healthy.” It helped me feel connected to others and a bit of service in a small way. Expand your concerns beyond yourself and extend love and care around you.
- Be compassionate and patient. Everyone is stressed out right now, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Try to be understanding; others may be hurting or more afraid than you, and may not be on their best behavior. While you’re at it, cut yourself some slack, too.
- Spend time with a friend or two – in person. If you can’t go to a larger gathering, reach out to someone that you can have tea with, go for a walk with, sit down and talk with. We need human connection; to be heard, supported, and cared for, and to give that to others. Even if you just elbow bump or stay 6 feet apart, we need each other. Connection is a vital part of our well-being.
- Get outside. In the fresh air (and it will be more fresh, with fewer cars on the road), we are not only safer from contamination in a confined space, but we can feel a connection to the planet. We all need a sense of belonging to something bigger. This is literally a good time to hug a tree, or sit with your back against one, since we can’t hug each other as much as we’d like. Smell flowers and walk barefoot on the grass. Listen to birdsong. Cultivate a sense of connection with other living things. This will sustain and support you through this very disconnecting time.
- Cuddle up with your cat or dog – or adopt one. Our animal friends fill important needs for connection, soothe us with the sense of touch, and can bring us joy when things seem dire.
- Be of service. Can you pick up some groceries for a neighbor while you’re out, or give food to a homeless person? Making a difference will bolster you as well as the other.
- Give yourself creative outlets. Sing, dance, drum, draw. Let your feelings come out. Journal. Allow expression of whatever you’re experiencing; don’t bottle it up. Let yourself grieve, scream, cry. But also stay connected to your inner joy. It’s always there within us, and just because our outer circumstances look dismal right now doesn’t mean we can’t still access the joy of being alive, in this moment.
- Pray and meditate. Keep up your meaningful rituals, or create a new one. Do yoga, chant a mantra, read from sacred scripture – whatever sustains your spirit. It is said that prayer is talking to the Divine, and meditation is listening. We need to sustain our relationship with something greater than us. So express your concerns to Spirit – the Divine hears you. And sit in quiet contemplation, listening within to the still silence. Allow yourself to be filled with that infinite presence. It will renew and sustain you.
- And most of all, be present here in the moment, just as it is. Take a breath, and focus on what is right here, right now. It’s probably OK right here in this moment.
Let’s hold each other in love and compassion through this time. It’s temporary, yet significant. We are all in this together. Do you have other self-care suggestions to add to the list? Post them below. Much love and blessings to you, and share here however this pandemic impacts you. Sharing connects us, and I’m listening.