Never before have we had a global pandemic of this scale. Stress, fear and uncertainty are naturally high right now, and that's okay! In this episode, I encourage you to remember that the real enemy is COVID-19, and to focus on what you can control in your own life to have some measure of peace and calm. I'm sharing with you how to feel better during this tough time of COVID-19.
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This is something that’s been on my heart for a few weeks and I couldn't quite put it into words yet. I've been watching it on Facebook for more than a month now. Posts that are politically charged, opinions, conspiracy theories, people fighting over food, toilet paper and arguing on Facebook and Instagram. There has also been a lot of positivity and people spreading light, people leading with kindness and compassion. But that's not what our brains naturally focus on (we have to train our brains to, but that's another post for another day!).
1 – Our Problem Is Not Each Other, It's COVID-19
During times of crisis, our natural instinct can be to turn on each other. But it's SO important to remember that the enemy here isn't each other. It isn't our government, China, people not following the rules, our neighbors, Italy, the CDC…etc.
We are at war and it's not with each other, it's with COVID-19.
2 – That Icky Feeling? It's Grief.
Recognize that we are ALL grieving – literally all over the world! This can unite us if we allow it to.
We are grieving for:
- The birthday parties we can’t have with friends and family
- People – our coworkers, friends, families and students
- Our conveniences
- Our “normal” lives
- Fully stocked grocery shelves
- Spring sports
- Lives lost, and so much more.
3 – Resist the Urge to Assign Blame
In times like these, our natural instinct can be to point blame. We can be quick to blame the other political party, blame politicians, blame China, blame each other for not following the guidelines like we’d like for each other to.
Blame is Fear
It’s so important when we’re feeling angry and wanting to place blame to realize that those feelings are actually symptoms of fear.
Recognize that it’s okay to be scared as these are scary times, but it doesn’t mean that it’s someone’s fault. There are a million possible reasons why bad things happen – it’s part of the world we live in and it can’t always be explained.
4 – Choose Faith and Trust Over Fear
I have found a lot of peace in believing that everything is working out for our good. The best and brightest in our country (literally, the world's leading experts) are diligently working on solutions and cures behind the scenes. Instead of fear, we can trust that who we’ve elected are chosen for such a time as this to lead us.
I am not an infectious disease expert or an economist. I was not elected to lead us during this time. It’s a daily struggle but I keep trying to choose trust over fear.
5 – Political Posts Just Divide Us Further
Plus, no one who is in charge is reading my opinions on Facebook. LOL! But it can feel like they do, right? I know I have felt the temptation to post political articles MANY times. But do they help? No! All they're really doing is helping me to vent and I feel good for a few minutes, and then I feel badly again.
At the end of the day, I have VERY little control over what policies are procedures are being made and really, I'm glad I don't have control because I'm not an expert on those matters. I don't understand all of the ins and outs of our economy, infectious diseases, medicines, how hospitals operate, what it's like to be a doctor, nurse, or any of those things.
I truly believe everyone is doing the best they can right now, including our governments. When you post politically charged articles, you’re going to get likes and comments only from those who agree with you. But all of the other friends you have on Facebook who don’t agree are seeing them too, and it just further divides you, it becomes us versus them. How does that help anything? (Posting things that encourage healthy discussion and dialogue are different.)
Politically charged posts also just add to the stress and fear we’re all feeling. I don’t even like seeing political posts criticizing politicians I don’t like because they just make me feel worse about all of this.
I’ve also seen conspiracy theories (they only add to the panic and paranoia). ? Avoid going down the rabbit holes of conspiracy theories. If you look into psychology, you'll see that those who create and spread conspiracy theories are often those who have delusional thoughts and paranoia – in other words, they come from a place of mental illness.
6 – Focus On What You Can Control
The best way to feel more peace in a situation that is SO out of our control is to focus on what we can control. The one and only person we have control over is ourselves, not our neighbors, kids or even our spouses. ME.
Here's What I Can Control
So I've been doing things around the house that make me feel good. Things that contribute to my family, make my home comfy, inviting and create a safe space for all of us. Things like extra cleaning, cooking, and baking. Helping my kids with their schoolwork – choosing to be patient and to learn together.
I can control whether or not I make up my bed each day, get dressed, and take care of myself. I feel better when my bed is made and my house is clean. I can control when my kids have video time (only after they've helped clean up). Things like that!
I can control how I deal with the anxiety and worry I'm feeling. I can journal, pray, meditate, go for a walk, cry, do some yoga, cuddle with my kids, or talk to my husband about my worries.
Exercise and especially walks outside raise my endorphins and lower that cortisol – I can literally feel it as I walk. Journaling, praying, meditating, music, talking to friends on apps, mailing cards. I can control those things!
Food and Supplements
To some extent, I have control over the food that comes into my home and can help my family eat healthy and well. I can increase our Vitamin C and Vitamin D intake to give our immune systems a fighting chance in case we do get it.
And I completely understand that no matter how healthy we are, we could still get the virus. And if we do, it's NOT MY FAULT as the mom. I have not failed. Is there more I could've done? Maybe, but who really knows? We are all literally doing the best that we know how to do and can and that is enough! It's just how infectious diseases work – they spread very easily and very rapidly. But at home, I can ensure we are putting on our armor to give us better chances of staying healthy. And then I have to let the rest go.
Social Media Posts
I have control over what I post on social media – total control! I am choosing to add positivity and value. If you are passionate about staying home, instead of getting online to tell others to do the same, consider posting photos of how your family is able to stay home. Are you getting grocery deliveries? Talk about the creative things you're doing to stay home and teach people how to do them. Lead by example instead of bossing others around.
If you're a medical professional and are upset by people not following the rules, share your stories from inside the hospital. Those will speak much more strongly than telling people to stay home.
7 – We Are All In This Together
We are all in this together!! Our common enemy is NOT each other, it is NOT our government, our politicians, people who aren’t following the rules, Italy, China, the CDC, the World Health Organization…our common enemy is this virus.
This is an unprecedented time in history. Never before have we been more united around the world than right now. What a beautiful thing! And we've been given the gift of time and family (for many, not all, though).
Cherish these extra moments with your children and spouse. Lean into this time of slowing down to give your body, mind and spirit a season of rest and rejuvenation. While these times are hard, they are also a gift IF we allow them to be.
Let’s make the daily choice to stick together and remember that problems get solved not when we turn on each other but when we come together for the good of all. ???