I am not the first, nor will I be the last to say, these are some wild times we are living in right now. Like many I am not only fearful of being exposed to this rampant virus, but also wary of the long-term mental health effects from the constant and incessant barrage of dreadful news of how our world has so quickly changed overnight. While we endure these mandatory lockdowns and hunker down in front of our computers our psyches get pummeled by every click, click, click of flashing new story or worse, personal accounts from friends, family and neighbors who are losing jobs, falling ill or burning the candle at both ends to keep up and do their jobs to ensure we all continue to get fed, connect to the bare necessities and stay healthy. Let's all breathe a collective breath for a moment right now. I mean it. Stop what you're doing, close your eyes and take in all the air your healthy lungs can muster and slowly let out all that toxic gunk that's gumming up your internal works. Now do that a few more times.
Right now I encourage everyone to carve out a few minutes of each day to find quiet and perspective. Maybe it's the early dawn before the kids get up and the dog/cat starts begging for breakfast. Maybe it's during the middle of the day when you pause to grab a quick bite for lunch cause yes, you need to still eat. Consider opening a window and breathing in some fresh air. Or maybe it's at the end of your day when you've turned off your work and before you return to your family. Find a quiet spot to just check in with yourself and refuel your strength. Someone posed a question the other day that asked people to list all the things they love. Then they asked, how long did it take before the list included you. I would second that. I know things are strange, eery, uncertain right now but if we don't take care of ourselves mentally as well as we are trying to do so physically, the whole system of our beings will crumble. Here's a few things I'm going to recommend just in case you are stuck and can't move past the moment. It's okay. I've had a few days like these recently, too. We all will. But it's going to be okay and I know the world, us and our families are going to be richer for it.
1. Find your happy place in old and new hobbies. My Mother is 84 and only leaves the house now to walk her dog. Her favorite thing recently is to paint rocks to look like Easter eggs. Find your thing or ask a friend who does that one cool thing you like to teach you how to do it virtually.
2. Pick up your phone and call a friend, neighbor or your Mother. We are a text dependent society but just yesterday I found that connecting with my siblings out of state and hearing their voices made me feel a little more relief knowing in real time that they were safe. And all those older people we're working so hard to protect, they are truly alone many times with nothing but their tvs to keep them company. The news is not so pretty these days, so call them, get them to turn off the tv for part of the day or have the grandkids make them some crazy videos they can watch instead.
3. Don't overextend yourself. I know we all want to pitch in and help. We see people struggling in our backyards and it hits home instantly. I'll admit, this is a hard one for me. And yet...we all know that airplane analogy, put your mask on first before you help someone else with theirs. It's true. The stronger we are the better able we are to help those who need us when the moment comes and they ask us for help. Just remember, it's not just you and me, we are part of millions all across the globe. Do what you can and know that it is enough. If everyone does a little, we'll all get through this together.
Yesterday I took a nap in the middle of the afternoon. When I woke up I heard a single bird singing in a tree outside my bedroom window. And then I remembered it was the first day of Spring. I listened to that bird for a few minutes and noticed it was the only bird singing. No other birds were answering. But it kept singing as if to say, "Hey, I'm still here. I showed up and I remembered what day it was." It made me smile. We may be isolated from each other for the moment but we're all still here able to show up in big and small ways every day even if it is from within the confines of our new reality.