The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, to say the least. I am not going to talk about the virus itself, because I am no scientist or expert. What I am an expert in is people and emotions. What has unnerved me about all this is the panic, the entitlement, and the self-preservation. It’s not just getting through this crisis that matters, it’s how we do it.
When we are faced with such great uncertainty, it can feel almost impossible to move under the weight of it. But that is not reality, that is a perception of it. Our initial reactions are often not our best, and that’s okay. It’s a part of the journey and processing hard-to-process things. What matters are our actions that follow, and the work we do to get there. The reality is we have no way of knowing what we don’t know, and we are almost always stronger than we think we are. We don’t know exactly how this pandemic is going to roll out or for how long. All we can do is make the best decisions possible with the information we have available right now.
These negative thoughts can trigger our stress response, and that diverts precious energy away from other functions while our body prepares to protect from perceived or actual threats. Prolonged stress activation also compromises immune response. That means that negative thoughts that activate our stress response burns valuable energy that we need to care for ourselves and each other.
So when you notice your stress response creeping in or exploding in your body, take a deep breath. Those deep belly breaths, where you breathe in through your nostril, hold for 4 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth, hold for 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel grounded. It might seem like nothing, but diaphragmatic breathing actually activates our parasympathetic nervous system. Reasons why this is good, in addition to supporting immune response:
- Healing and tension release occur when our parasympathetic nervous system is activated;
- It’s a lot easier to be a compassionate, whole human when we are calm.
From everything I have read, this is where I have personally landed in navigating risk and protecting public health:
- Eat healthy food (and have fun with it!)
- Practice good sleep hygiene (sleep is when our body heals and cells restore!)
- Drink lots of fluids (cleanse out any nasty germs…yuk!)
- Follow evidence-based advice from trusted sources (gov/regulatory body)
- Be responsible and ethical (it’s not just what we do, it’s how we do it!)
- Be compassionate and kind (to yourself and others!), and
- Care for your emotional and mental health (stay connected with others virtually! go for walks! create something!)
I might not be able to hold your hand right now, but I will stand approximately 2 meters away from you with a smile and an abundance of bad jokes to make you laugh. Also to be expected: silly/happy posts on social media, and/or video chats or phone calls just to hear your voice and listen to your thoughts.
We are in a challenging time where we must do what is right, especially when we are scared. The only way through this is together. ❤
If you have tips on how you have successfully managed strong emotions in the past, or fun ideas for the day-to-day, you are very welcome to share them by commenting below.
- World Health Organization (2020). “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.” Retrieved on March 19, 2020 from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 .
- World Health Organization (2020). “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public.” Retrieved on March 19, 2020 from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public .
- Jerath, R., Crawford, M.W., Barnes, V.A., and Harden, K. (2015). “Self-Regulation of Breathing as a Primary Treatment for Anxiety.” Applied Psychophysiol Biofeedback 40, 107–115.