I know I'm not alone in feeling like overnight life has been turned upside down and inside out. These are surreal days and honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this time of COVID-19.
Like many of you reading this, I am in a privileged position. I'm healthy, able to work from home, have access to food, technology ... and still, the anxiety and trauma stemming from this pandemic are very real. Experiences of numbness, fear, racing thoughts, denial, nightmares and sadness are all part of the package right now. Our feelings may come and go quickly leaving a sense of emotional whiplash.
So how do we begin to care for ourselves and each other (from a distance) in the midst of so much crisis?
Well, to be clear, I don't think there's a right way to navigate a pandemic. I believe everyone is doing the best they can, when they can. But as the weeks continue to pass, I'm realizing both from my own experience and from the folks I talk to, that focusing on right now - a tenant of so many spiritual practices - has never felt more wise.
With that in mind, I've compiled some ideas on developing a Right-Now Plan. Looking at what we need and/or can do this week, this day, this hour, or even this moment can make everything feel just a little more manageable. In the weeks to come, I'll use this blog to dive in to some of these ideas more deeply, but for now I've provided some starting points below. As you're developing your plan remember that it doesn't need to feel like a to-do list. The most effective plans are tempered with self-compassion and scaffolded with the support of others. After all, if ever there was doubt about how interconnected we all are, well, here we are ... reminded.
Till next time, wishing you all health & ease,
For Right Now, Consider ...
#1. FEELING ALL YOUR FEELINGS
Here's a truth: Everything you feel is valid. One moment you may find yourself hopeful, the next may bring anger and the next grief. Give yourself space to cry or dance or write or do whatever feels expressive and nourishing. Rumi's poem The Guest House speaks beautifully to this practice.
#2. TRYING TELE/VIDEO THERAPY
If you are feeling overwhelmed, and so many of us are right now, please reach out for professional support. Most of the therapists I know, including myself, are offering phone and video sessions. There's no need to go through this on your own. I'm happy to answer questions about what tele/video therapy may look like and offer (as always) free consultation or referrals to low-fee clinics. Message me here.
#3. CUTTING YOURSELF SOME SLACK
It's more than okay if you are not feeling as motivated as you were. Practice letting go of productivity as you knew it a couple of weeks ago. What can it look like right now? Maybe making the bed is the task of the day or maybe its working on a big project in small chunks to minimize overwhelm.
#3. PRACTICING GRATITUDE & APPRECIATION
Practicing gratitude/appreciation can be helpful in shifting perspective. This practice is not intended to gloss over the difficult, but instead helps us hold a fuller, more nuanced view of everything we're experiencing. One idea is to start a journal entirely dedicated to the practice of gratitude or appreciation. Another idea is to text with a friend or share with a family member what you're both grateful for or appreciative of.
#4. TAKING ACTION & GIVING BACK
Supporting others during this time is not only a way to leverage privilege and practice social responsibility. Acts of kindness and responsibility can also help ease feelings of powerlessness and increase feelings of connectedness. A few ideas: monetary donations to community organizations, sewing masks, fostering pets, joining NextDoor to help out neighbors.
#5. DEVELOPING A (FLEXIBLE) SCHEDULE
We often talk about how important structure is for kiddos, but adults benefit too. Structure increases a feeling of containment and safety and often decreases feelings of anxiety. I highly recommend creating some schedule for your day, even if it just includes a few self-care tasks.
#6. IDENTIFYING MUTAL SUPPORT
Who can you check on and who will check on you in a meaningful way? Asking: How are you?, often elicits a blanket response of Okay. But asking: What do you need? or How can I support you? lends to more authentic, open communication.
#7. LIMITING MEDIA EXPOSURE
What we read, watch and listen to impacts us - consciously and unconsciously. Check in with yourself. The news media and social media serve important functions, but how much media is helpful to you? Does media help you feel connected or does it trigger fear and hopelessness?The answer can vary daily.
#8. EXPLORING YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ON FOOT
Leisurely walks make it into my gratitude journal regularly. Next time you go for a walk, consider taking photos or mental notes. What are you noticing that you never noticed before? Who can you share it with (virtually)?
#9. PRACTICING PRAYER OR MEDITATION (or both) Whether you are connecting to a higher power or your higher self, or you need a break from inner chatter, making prayer or meditation a regular part of your schedule can be grounding. If you are new to meditation, I recommend the Head Space app. It has many options for those new to meditation and those who are experienced.
Last, but not least ... yes, if you feel like taking a nap, please take a nap. It's good for you. The day-to-day may feel exhausting right now. Let yourself recharge and support others in doing the same.