Throughout history, humans across the world have endured the rampant effects of epidemics and pandemics. We, however, are living in extraordinary times as news agencies, the web, and social media platforms allow us to see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the world. At the touch of a button, we have access to the latest Covid-19 statistics, the opinions and advice of health experts, and our politicians trying to manage the impacts.
We all can tune in to Glady’s daily Covid briefing, listening for the latest hotspots and infection numbers, and how many of these have been living normally “in the community”. We may stare at them intently for any additional clues – is Gladys fearful? Is the state losing control of this one? Why is Brad Hazzard so upset today? Kerry Chant sounds worried as she pleads for us to take lockdown seriously and to get vaccinated. Then in the evening news, Scott Morrison shares with us why we can now trust AstraZeneca.
We are all listening. We are re-evaluating the potential repercussions for our own lives. We watch and speak about this day in and day out. Children across the country are playing Premier and Chief Health Officer. Even young toddlers are watching and listening. They know how masks are worn and stick out their hand for hand sanitiser. Last Christmas, I chose Kerry Chant as the person for my family to guess in the Name Game.
We listen, we research, and we speak repeatedly with our family, friends, colleagues, and clients about the extraordinary times we are in. We share the horror stories about Covid and long Covid or speak about those who had such mild symptoms they barely knew they had it. We share our perspectives on many aspects of the pandemic, and we want others to agree with us. We feel less anxious when others agree with our perspective. It helps us feel as if we are on the right path.
We may judge others rather harshly for not sharing our perspectives. We may even dismiss others from our lives for holding a viewpoint that’s different to ours. The cancel culture is alive and kicking. It is critical to remember that we all have our own agenda that informs our perspective. We all hold a different piece of the pandemic puzzle. I can tell you that anxiety and fear sit underneath every single piece of the puzzle.
So what are we anxious and fearful about? Big stuff – our security, our lives, our families, and our sense of wellbeing. The list is long, so take a breath. We are all dealing with so much. Here goes we are anxious and fearful about our finances, the survival of our businesses, job security, our career development being on hold, saying no to our employers for fear of being sacked, our children’s social isolation, our parents who we can’t see, not seeing our grandchildren, parents who are getting older and/or sicker, living in lockdown with domestic violence and not being able to get out, being home with children all day, our growing dependence on alcohol, our loss of contact with friends, our secret gambling habit, being home so much with our partner, the news cycle, not being with our family overseas, not getting a mammogram or going to the dentist for fear of catching Covid, losing our freedom and rights with a future determine by a vaccine passport, which vaccine to have, whether to vaccinate at all, the long-term health implications of new vaccinations with no data yet, the side effects of vaccinations, balancing the fear of Covid and long Covid and vaccinations, this pandemic never ending, what to do with a strained and worsening couple relationship, loneliness, worsening mental health, who to lay off at work, not enough space at home, concern for the future, uptight, increased reactivity, body pains and tension, being isolated, losing friends, overwhelmed, guilt over not making contact with friends and family, no alone time, feeling a burden on others, not sleeping properly, mounting deferred tax debt, and so many more.
This list is maddening. We all have some or many of these anxieties and fears. We need to stop the madness and the enormous stress on our minds and bodies from these anxieties. We need to do it differently now. It’s been too much for too long. It is now time to listen. But who to? For our mental health and wellbeing, we need to sit quietly and listen to ourselves. We all need to change the way we manage this and take responsibility for what we put onto others. So let’s look at how to do this.
Here are my top tips –
Have a Covid fast. It’s all negative. Turn off the constant news reports on Covid. Stop sharing your perspective. Stop looking for others to agree with you or trying to persuade them to think or behave like you. Stop judging people. Find other areas of connection with others.
Make it a priority to calm down. Take note of how worked-up and stressed your nervous system is and make it a priority to calm down. The best way to do this is with breathing exercises. We have the amazing capacity to calm our nerves just by using our breath. Breathing slowly and evenly through our nose to our stomach for 5 seconds, then breathe out for 5 seconds slowly. Repeat 5 times – let your mind follow your breath. This exercise sends a message to our brain via the vagus nerve to ‘de-stress’ and calm down. It is so simple.
Remember joy and happiness. Sit quietly and remember what you really enjoy. Ask yourself, what can I do that makes me smile, bring joy, create, discover, or learn? For some it is reading, learning a language, going for a walk, taking a bath, cooking new meals, walking in nature, connecting online, time with pets, writing a journal, find an interesting online course, learn a new game.
What have you discovered or rediscovered during this pandemic that brings you joy? Share with me in the comments below, I would love to hear.