Food running out in shops, people buying toilet paper like it will never be produced again, advice to limit travels, schools, museums and libraries closed at some places, countries barring entry to non-citizens… With the news on the Corona virus pandemic so rapidly changing, by the time you read this, the news will probably already contain some new (previously unthinkable) factors.[Tuulia wrote all this more than a week ago, when events in much of Europe concerning the pandemic were quickly evolving. Since then, I’m embarrassed to admit that I—Pete—procrastinated in actually posting this blog.]
This sounds to me like the plot from some sci-fi novel. And yet it’s our reality. Still, I’ve found no reason to panic.
How can we help to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in the middle of these rapidly changing events?
This is what came to my mind:
1. Getting grounded
Notice the sensations in your body right now. Notice your thoughts and then allow them to pass like clouds in the sky. Notice the sensations on the soles of your feet. Be conscious of your breath while noticing the sensations in your feet. Close your eyes and keep your focus on your feet for two minutes. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat three times with the third inhale and exhale even deeper and longer.
Repeat and bring your focus to your feet whenever you notice you are feeling anxious or worried or overwhelmed. You can also spend time with your eyes closed while focusing your awareness on the physical sensations on different parts of your body, starting from toes and moving all the way up to head. This can help you relax your nervous system and calm your spinning mind. You can also use Autogenic Relaxation meditation which you might have learned in our workshops. Or do any of your own meditations.
2. Feeling and cultivating gratitude
Rather than looking what’s wrong in your life or in the world generally, take time to concentrate to what is rewarding, meaningful and beautiful to you. How do you make yourself happy right now?
Write daily entries in a gratitude journal or express to your loved ones what you are grateful for today. List at least five things daily and if possible, read them out loud to a loved one. I do this with Pete each evening.
3. Maintaining healthy daily routines and activities
Healthy habits and routines create safety for us mammals. When external circumstances are unstable or worrisome, we can help to create our own safe haven. This is a good time to get up from bed before noon and dress up rather than spend days in pyjamas. Regular meals, daily physical exercise and daily tasks can help keep a rhythm in our days. If you are more indoors more than usual and have lots of spare time on your hands, you can start a project: clearing and organizing your wardrobes, attic, storage or cupboards; learn about something you are excited about online; organizing your photos or other files; finally clear out your email inbox; etc.
4. Replacing activities in crowds with other ones
In lieu of socializing in groups, you can walk in nature, read books, connect with friends near or far via video calls, write a journal, write or record on video your life story, work on your life purpose, meditate, dance, do yoga or some other physical exercise at home, write handwritten letters, play board games, visit virtual museums, watch films and documentaries, paint or draw, cook and try new recipes, dream.
What about starting your morning in peace? You can do so by stretching, meditating, reading or writing. Or even by enjoying a long peaceful breakfast.
What would you add to this list? What are your favorite activities to do apart from crowds?
You are not alone. I am not alone. We are not alone. Though at times we might feel worried or anxious, that is part of being a human being. Share with your friends and loved ones how you feel. Ask for help and support, ask for tips to spend your time in a meaningful way. Engage in long conversations, reveal something daring and personal of yourself. Create connection and care among your loved ones.
I judge that feeling worried is totally fine. And so is asking for support. I also think feeling fine at a time when others might be sick or struggling is also OK.
Tuulia and Pete