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Emotions are circulating our nations, faster than any virus could spread. Fear, uncertainty, grief, anger, financial stress, disbelief- the list continues. Concern of the virus, societal push to close non-essential businesses, unemployment, and social distancing heighten these feelings even further. How do we keep our bodies and minds healthy during this period of unrest? Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all for coping with difficult situations, especially COVID-19. This is a new period in history and we must develop ways to endure as a unified society.

Coping

Now more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves- both physically and mentally. This is a difficult task, especially during this potentially chaotic time. If at a loss for how to cope, engage with the following techniques: take what works for you, and leave the rest.

Limit Media Consumption – Primarily, it is important to stay informed with accurate media sources. This is essential to containing and understanding the implications of the virus. Considering this, bring awareness to your feelings when internet searching. Are the sources you are engaging with providing factual and necessary information? Are you spending hours reading horror stories about all the possibilities that “could” happen? Sizable media engagement is a dangerous game; it largely impacts your thoughts and causes physical and mental tension. By bringing attention to your emotions and physical reactions when internet searching, you become aware of the negative effects it may be having on your psyche. If this is occurring, proceed to set your phone down, and take a few deep breaths. Then, limit your media use to a degree you are comfortable with- balancing the need to stay informed but not over-indulging in unnecessary information.

Get outside – If available to you, go outdoors! This is one of the simplest things we can do to increase mood; the sun will transform your day!

Try something new – Remember those paint brushes you’ve had stored under your desk for 2 years? Now is the time you’ve been waiting for! Incorporating different and pleasant activities into your day can help “spice things up” by challenging your brain and altering the typical routine.

Express your thoughts – Real talk: you’ve set media limits, read your favorite novel (again), took your dog outside, and… anxiety has persisted. There is no need to shame yourself for your unrelenting feelings; learning to cope with new situations is a process that takes time. Reaching out to someone that supports you, whether a family member, friend, or therapist, can be an effective way to release uncomfortable feelings. It is also an amazing way to connect with others- chances are, they can relate to one aspect of your thoughts or feelings. Virtual therapy is an excellent resource during this uncertain time. Review the positive impacts of virtual therapy on Healing Minds, LLC’s website if you’re interested in more information (http://healingminds.com/virtual-therapy-breakthroughs-by-hannah-sweeney/).

Watch your Internal Dialogue – Your body is listening. It is common to write-off the strong correlation between the body and mind. Both positive and negative thoughts manifest physically; by altering our thoughts, we can change our body’s response to a situation. Once, a therapist told me a story that beautifully illustrates this concept: Her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and chemotherapy was the recommended treatment. In order to combat the negative side effects of chemo, her mother had a unique strategy. Every chemotherapy tablet she would consume, she performed a meditation, where she would imagine the chemo traveling through her body, providing only healing effects. She envisioned the cancer exiting her body and leaving fresh, fully functioning cells in its wake. Her mother ended treatment completely cancer free; although, this did not come without the experience of side effects. In contrast, her positive attitude and healing thoughts surely played an imperative role on her positive attitude and body’s ability to repair. This coping skill acknowledges the deep correlation between thoughts and physiological response- the implications are profound. Sending yourself thoughts of healing and wellness may increase your chances of these exact things.

Move your body- Loving movement is a simple way to connect with your body and breath. At home yoga, Pilates, or weightlifting are all ways to release physical energy, and produce endorphins in the brain. This causes an increase in mood and energy levels. Sweat works wonders!

Create a routine- Outlining your day with engaging activities is an effective way to keep your mind occupied. This is especially important if you have children at home from school. Having structure creates a sense of responsibility, efficiency, and productivity; it also perpetuates good habits and creates a goal-oriented mindset.

Surely, this is not a comprehensive list of coping skills. Use these ideas to brainstorm techniques that best suit you- there is no universal path to healing!

Optimism

Optimism may seem like a stretch during such a devastating period; maybe it is. Regardless, positive thoughts impact our worldview, and can change our energy and mood. Acknowledging situational benefits does not take away from pain, suffering, and instability experienced during this pandemic; both favorable and adverse elements can coexist.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge positive impacts the virus has had on societies:

-We are all in this together; there is a unification among communities.

-Decreasing pollution! Mother Earth is rejoicing at the declining levels of smoke and gas being released into the air. We may see some inspiring environmental impacts.

-If you are social distancing, there is down time to reflect. Staying home allows space to contemplate values and priorities.

-There is a heightened appreciation for the previous day-to-day life that is now on hold.

-Medical workers are risking their lives to save our societies. Let this give you hope about the inherent goodness of others.

-We are learning to take only what we need – Save the toilet paper!

The list goes on. Creating a daily gratitude list is a beautiful way to develop appreciation for your life and health. The more we focus on the positive, the more we begin to see.

Virtue

In the light of being optimistic, healthcare workers are risking their lives every day to save those suffering from the corona virus. Doctors, nurses, medical support staff, REMSA teams, and caretakers are spreading health to our communities at their own expense. There is nothing more admirable than selflessly putting another’s life before your own; to all providing necessary treatment to those infected, thank you. Your virtue is a saving grace during this confusing time.

Additionally, the ones working tirelessly to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 deserve immense recognition. These clinical researchers feel the pressure of nations across the world; they are working relentlessly to preserve mass communities, both local and abroad. There is no sufficient way to acknowledge the significance these individuals are having on our populations- again, thank you.

Even during this disorienting season, many people are spreading healing to the masses; there is light to be found during this dark time. We are banning together to fight this virus; we will prevail.  

Insight

Whether you are saving lives, social distancing, working, or recovering from the virus, there is insight to be found. Use this situation to reflect on your life; what are your values, ideals, and goals? Maybe there were aspects of life you were taking for granted before the mass COVID-19 infection- notice these changes and create tangible ways to avoid falling back into similar patterns once this pandemic settles down.

Bring awareness to things you are most grateful for; tell your family you love them and thank your body for keeping you healthy. Using this period in history to reflect and grow will only further the world’s ability to heal from COVID-19.

Durability

“Durable- able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration in quality or value (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). COVID-19 is showing our world how strong we are. When faced with adversity, people are responding with endurance and creativity. Governments are taking actions, medical workers are rescuing, and Italians are serenating the world. We will keep fighting, we will keep enduring, and we will overcome.

Ultimately, the virus is spreading and perpetuating pain, anxiety, and uncertainty. Emotions are overwhelming, even devasting. There is no denying this is one of the most unique periods in history; no one is immune to its implications. While suffering and confusion is experienced by the masses, we are proving stronger than the Corona virus; pain and death will surely continue, but it will be fought by Coping, Optimism, Insight, Virtue, and Durability.

References:

“Durable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-                webster.com/dictionary/durable. Accessed 22 Mar. 2020.