By Nancy L. Johnston, author of Disentangle
As promised in Part 1, here are some ideas you can use to keep a healthy connection with your self as you live with your concerns about COVID-19.
Wake Up. Wake up to your day. Wake up to your preoccupations with the virus. Wake up to how much time you spend gathering information and preparing for it. Allow your self to honestly see how many hours in a day and/or how many of your conversations are about the virus and your anxieties about it.
Find the Willingness. In order to make changes, we must not only have awareness; we must also have willingness to do things differently. See if you can find within your self a desire to cut down on the amount of time and energy you are spending on the virus. Are there other things you would like to be doing? How might it help you to be less engaged in the pandemic? How willing are you to use some of the following ideas?
Turn It Off. Go ahead, turn off the news for a while. Turn off your pursuit of the next story about the pandemic. Turn off your agitated mind with its worries and deep frustrations. Turn off your desires to talk about it when others have had enough. How in the world do I do this, you ask. Read on:
Tune In. With the external turned down, we can better hear the internal. What are you thinking and feeling? How does your body feel? Do you notice any tightness or tension, low energy, fatigue, agitation, or restlessness? Are you struggling with things you cannot control? Tune in to these messages within you and consider responding to your self in these ways:
Take a Break. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Perhaps you are angry. Maybe your body is tight and stiff from sitting most of the day. Take a loving break. Go for a walk. Rearrange furniture. Plant a seed. Build a shelf. Or, be still and follow your breath. Notice what you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel. Be present. Over and over, be present in the quiet and stillness of your stepping away from the virus.
Lend an Ear. Take time to be present with those you are living with. Stop and be with them. Listen to what they are saying. You may not agree with them, but just listen and make real contact with them, contact that has each of you feeling heard and understood.
Lend a Hand. Having stepped away from the virus, you are now more available to the daily tasks and activities in your world. You are alive and your life is here now with cooking, cleaning, and caring as it always is. Notice what needs to be done; notice what you can do to help; notice the potential for connection and community that comes from your involvement in the activities of this day.
Wander. There is something refreshing about doing nothing. Wandering. Daydreaming. Creating space for your mind, body, and heart to breathe, to see where they may want to go. Piddling around. Not working off of a list or off of your fears. Just allowing your self to not have to do anything and being free to see what comes up for you.
Say Your Prayers. The Serenity Prayer invites us to take care of the things we can control and to let go of what is out of our control. What an important foundation for us in this time of fear and uncertainty. Prayer encourages us to be grateful for what we have and serves as a ready opportunity to humble our self, to know what to let go of, and to let go.
Rest. Being rested goes a long way in helping us to manage our anxieties and depression. Irritability, restlessness, impatience, and agitation all thrive on lack of sleep. Our preoccupations with the virus may be even stronger if we are tired. When we feel this worn way, what we really need is restful sleep. This means spending quiet time with your self and family as you wind down from the day, going to bed at a regular time, not taking your phone or computer to bed with you, quieting your mind as your head rests on your pillow, and feeling gratitude for the home and health you have right now.