31 Mar Still looking for answers and solutions? Why this is the best time to search within.
So here we are, with more time on our hands, hooked on to our laptops or phones and reading all sorts of articles, newsletters, and messages from friends and family on how bad the situation is and how to make the most of our time during this pandemic.
The internet is currently flooded with new online courses, from learning a new skill, a new language, practice meditation, or more Pilates, more Yoga, more fitness; whatever you can imagine to do, you can do in the comfort of your own home, thanks to all this technology.
I am one of these teachers who have reverted to giving classes in a virtual environment, not because I prefer to, but because my clients had a near-fit when they realized that I had to close the studio instantly, following government directives. I wanted to keep my community going and find an alternative to their workout in the studio. On the other hand, I have been receiving over 50 emails a day from all sorts of wellness providers. Virtually every Pilates teacher, Yoga teacher, fitness and other wellness instructor I know has gone virtual, grasping at straws, trying to make ends meet. Of course, to the outside community the choice is endless. While I appreciate everybody’s efforts and insights, I feel like we are missing a beat here.
As a global community we have gone from hero to zero in the space of a mere week! Most people I have spoken to had initially downgraded the intensity of the pandemic, dubbing it to be dangerous only for the older people, or those with chronic problems. Then reality struck and governments around the world started advising people to stay safe and remain indoors. The world seems to have gone to a slumber and nobody knows when we’re going to ‘get out’ of it.
Of course, thank goodness, not everyone is feeling the hit right now. Some of us are lucky enough to continue business as usual. The rest of us have come to a grinding halt, not even able to make ends meet.
This is where I feel the big shift has happened. Society has come to an instant crash and anything that was socially regarded as abnormal has now become the new normal. The transition has happened both collectively and individually. Just think, only a couple of weeks ago we were still able to socialize with friends, go out and eat at restaurants and commute around the world. We could function at liberty without any consideration to our health and well-being. Our new reality is that we are physically restricted to where we go. We are socially segregated and worst of all, unsure of when this is going to end and what will happen to us when it will be over. Or will it? I can guarantee that every person on this planet will soon have to make some important, life-changing decisions.
When it struck China, Covid-19 was just another crazy thing that sprung in their society and because we were far enough from it, we didn’t really give it much thought. Now it has hit home, we are all experiencing some kind of uneasiness and some of us are already going through their own personal nightmares.
My friend sent me this graphic yesterday which clearly portrays the stages we will go through, albeit at different levels, through this pandemic.
The diagram explains that in the initial stage, we are in a Zone of FEAR. Here we experience continuous complaints, sharing all the bad news with our family friends and acquaintances. We get easily irritable due to the shock of the situation. We hoard food, toilet paper and medicines that we don’t need. We fill ourselves with contaminating emotions related to fear and anger.
Then during the second stage, the Zone of Learning, we take consciousness of the situation and think of how to act. We verify information before forwarding rumours and recognise that we are trying to find the best available solutions. We stop consuming compulsively and that includes both food and information. We start letting go of things we cannot control and start to identify with our emotions.
Finally, in the third stage, the Zone of Growth, we start to become emphatic with ourselves and others. We appreciate and value more and maintain a joyful state of emotions and spread hope. We find new ways of adapting and look for new solutions. We remain social, albeit in a new state, become more patient and creative and maintain relations. We find a purpose and think of others and seek ways of helping others as wells as putting our skills at the service of those in need.
We must recognize we are currently going through a collective traumatic experience. Trauma is often thought of as “too much, too fast” .. which is exactly what is happening. Of course you’re exhausted. Of course you’re afraid. Of course you’re overwhelmed. Of course you’re clinging to certainly in the midst of so much unknown. Of course you aren’t as productive, feeling foggy, or wondering how you can possibly go through so many waves of emotions all in the same day. This all makes so much sense in the context of our circumstances.
I wish to encourage you to take a pause, take it all in and slow down. Acknowledge what has just happened and understand you are not alone. Take a second to acknowledge that this trauma is happening to millions of others around the globe. We have been here before, maybe not in the same extent, but two previous world wars would have made people feel similar emotions.
Acknowledge your feelings, don’t panic. Don’t try to stay distracted all the time. If I can encourage you to do anything right now, is to start a meditation process. You don’t need to sit cross legged and behave like a Buddhist monk but try to have the capacity to hold space for yourself, without thinking about the current crisis. Show gratitude for what you have and where you are. One of my most favorite meditation coaches, Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about how creativity comes when we are still.
So be still, and in your stillness, you might find fear, anxiety and other negative thoughts. Feel them in your body, don’t try to resist them. Then try to release them through exercise, movement, singing, running, writing, crying – however you may choose. If you need help with this, reach out to a friend or a mental health professional.
Then do what feels good. Don’t force yourself to do things you are not sure about. Don’t try to pretend that things are OK; we are all human and in your humanity you may encourage others to open up to you and share the same feelings. Don’t make this journey alone.
Be gentle with yourself. Have compassion for your development. Give yourself grace. You are good, no matter how you are managing this completely new experience. Breathe. You will get through this day. Feel calm and composed. Repeat. Right now, that is all you need.