A lot of people are freaking out lately because of the Covid-19 virus. If you’re one of them–you’re not alone.
Put your hand on your belly.
Right now. Do it, please?
Put your hand on your belly and take a deep breath, from the bottom of your belly so you can watch your hand rise.
Then, slowly, deliberately, breathe out.
Repeat as necessary throughout the day. Every time something gets cancelled, or you hear new information about Covid-19, put your hand on your belly and breath in deeply and then exhale slowly.
You’ll still be scared. A little. That’s ok.
It’s ok to be wondering what’s happening. How bad it will get. Wondering if this all this is silly, or if there is something more that they aren’t telling us.
It would be weird if you weren’t feeling a little off in light of the cascade of events that have been cancelled this week.
Yesterday, my house was filled full with the happy sound of young athletes who flew to Winnipeg to play at the National University Volleyball Championships. The young men ate mountains of pasta and cheese amidst the joking and easy conversation that happens the day before the seriousness of the tournament. The house was filled with happy, excited anticipatory energy.
I had been looking forward to being one of the sold out crown tonight at Investor’s Group Center at the University of Manitoba as U of M Bisons played the TWU Spartans. So. Much. Fun.
We found out moments before the defending champions, Trinity Western Spartans, arrived in our home that no fans would be allowed into the gym. We would have to watch from a distance online.
By 11 pm last night, they found out the entire tournament was cancelled. They go home without playing a game.
The players in their final year will never play their championships tournament. Garth Pischke, after a lifetime of coaching, will miss the public honoring that was planned by having it at the University of Manitoba this week. The parents miss one last opportunity to celebrate their little ones.
I suspect you have a loss or two as well that you’ve found out about in the last day or two because of a Covid-19 virus related cancellation.
This is a stressful, stress-filled moment in our history. A few thoughts to consider. Let us…
- Listen to the health professionals. Even if you are young and healthy, observe and adhere to all requested protocols. Together we can reduce the spread which will help your grandma, your friend’s father, the folks in the personal care home down the street. If you’re feeling unwell, it’s not business as usual–pull back and protect people. Wash your hands like you’ve been chopping jalapeños. Cough into your sleeve. Do your part to flatten the curve–it will save lives.
- Remember that the precautions are not intended to alarm us–they are intended to protect the population of Manitoba.
- Look around to be aware of who is self quarantine–either because they’ve recently returned from a trip abroad or because they have chronic health conditions that make it wise for them to stay away. Find the ones who are alone at home for days on end, and help those that pull back to not feel isolated. Drop off a card. Wash your hands thoroughly and visit them from the other side of the room. Make a phone call. Offer to run an errand. Talk from the sidewalk. Video call. Mail a card. Be creative–but help let those that are in quarantine to not feel isolated. We need each other more than ever.
- Feel your feelings and be mindful. This is hard. Lots of people are missing things–and that’s disappointing. Cancelled trips. The game you were looking forward to attending is now not happening. That’s a grief. But…we are resilient as humans. We can do hard things. Folks have handled much worse in our history and lived to tell about it. Part of self compassion is knowing that life hurts for everyone, and we get through it together.
- Hold other’s fears in a calming way. Don’t add gasoline to the anxiety fire. Remind them to breath. Don’t speculate. Don’t catastrophize. Do encourage and support.
- Be genuinely kind to yourself. If the news is freaking you out: TURN IT OFF!! For several hours. Avoid assaulting your spirit with the constant barrage of the same bad news over and over. Listen once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Turn lemons into lemonade: This is a chance to clean out that closet. Write that short story, paint a room. Try a new recipe. Have a healthy friend or two over and play a board game. Get your taxes ready. (AARGH!)
Creating deliberate community is more vital now than it was before we were asked to distance.
Solitary confinement is considered a form of psychological torture by the United Nations. It is recognized to have serious effects, and it is condemned for prisoners for periods longer than 15 days. That’s something to keep in mind as we seek to stem the spread of this coronavirus.
This is a time, even as we geographically avoid gathering in large groups, decrease handshakes and hugs to relationally draw close to each other.
We are still wired for connection–we just gotta think outside the box to ensure that we remain connected when we have to take a step back. How can be get playful to creative to find ways to be together, even when we can’t be in the same room!
Now is the time to be more connected than ever–even if there needs to be no physical contact.
Creativity is required. Playfulness is mandatory. Community is essential. Tears are optional. Always.
We will get through this.
PS. At Conexus Counselling, we have waived the normal cancellation fee if clients are feeling unwell. Please let us know if you will not be attending the session. We are going to wave our greeting rather than shake your hand. Your therapist may cancel your session, even on short notice, if she or he is feeling unwell. We seek to be good citizens in this time.