There’s no way around it – our lives have changed and are still changing. And it’s scary. Some of us are getting sick and/or taking care of people who’ve fallen ill with COVID-19. Some of us are dealing with family members or friends – or friends of friends – who have passed away. At least that’s how it is in New York City right now, and from what I understand, it will be coming to many of you soon.
All of us are living with a new kind of stress and anxiety that probably isn’t going to go away for a long time. What can we do?
First and foremost, take care of yourself. It’s so important for you to acknowledge how you feel. Validate yourself and feel your emotions. That way, they won’t get stuffed down and stuck inside you.
For example, if you start to feel anxious, stop what you’re doing and acknowledge what you’re feeling. What is it like? Are you angry, sad, upset, scared, etc? Identify what the feeling is that you’re feeling.
Next, figure out where that feeling is in your body. Is it in your stomach, throat, heart, chest? One day I realized my anger was in my sinuses! Stand in the feeling until you know what it is and where it is. By doing that, you are validating the feeling; you are accepting that the feeling is there and that you are experiencing it.
By identifying where the feeling is in your body, I believe you then separate yourself from it. You’re acknowledging to yourself that you are the one that is feeling the feeling, but you are not the feeling itself. This is how you process it and get it out of you, rather than stuffing it down for a later time.
The third thing to do – and I still grapple with this myself so don’t think you have to be perfect the first time you try it – is to just relax and let it go. You acknowledge you’re feeling, say, fear; you pinpoint where it is in your body like your chest; and then you relax and let it float away. Feel it and then let it go.
Three Deep Breaths
If feeling your feelings and letting go and all that seems too much, simply breathe. Or add conscious breathing to an overall self care routine. Stop and stand rooted in the ground. Breathe in deeply, try to hold for two seconds, and then exhale slowly. Hold two seconds and repeat. Do this three times. That’s it. This will lower your blood pressure and slow your system down.
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is an excellent book that describes this letting go process in detail – I highly recommend it. You are the calmness at the bottom of the ocean – you are not the waves on top. You are the stillness in the sea and the space between the words. I know that can sound a bit woo woo, but it’s true. Read the book to learn more.
Even though we are in uncertain and, for many, scary times, try your best to practice gratitude. Write down three things you are grateful for. If you can do ten, that’s even better! But every day, spend a couple minutes and write down what you’re thankful for.
When I first started this practice, it hurt; it really did. I was so used to looking for the negative in everything and so used to the comfort I got, as oddly as it sounds, from living in my misery because it’s what I knew, that writing down positive things hurt. My theory is that I had deeply rutted neural pathways and it took some effort to create new, more positive ones.
It does not have to be grandiose thoughts of world peace though it does have to mean something to you. I’m grateful I have heat; I’m grateful I have water; and I’m grateful I’m healthy. I wasn’t feeling well last month – I don’t know if I had coronavirus or not – but I was fatigued and simply not well.
Today, I am so grateful to be able to breathe, to be able to sleep and to be able to focus. And words cannot express my gratitude for the hard work and self sacrifice of all the first responders, delivery people and store clerks around this country who are still on the job while putting themselves and their families at risk. They are helping people they don’t know and most likely won’t ever meet. Many people who make minimum wage and who often go unseen are our true heroes – along with all the doctors and healthcare professionals. Please do something to thank them.
We all have a choice in life, and as we go through the COVID-19 pandemic, we can look at the bad, fearful, scary things happening, or we can choose to see what good there is around us. I mean, we can live in sweats and leggings for the foreseeable future! We can lay on the couch as much as we want. We can get to all those household projects we’ve wanted to do but never seemed to find time for.
Be grateful for the small things. That is how you’ll find beauty in everything. And that is how you can find peace in this troubling time.
Diane Hatz is the CEO/founder of Whole Healthy Group and Change Food®. This article is fromWhole Healthy Life – an exploration and celebration of food, spirituality and unapologetic aging. This is life from the wiser side.