Many people around the world are currently practicing social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to ‘flatten the curve’. This can be a time that presents opportunities and challenges for each individual. The challenges include increased feelings of isolation caused by the distance from loved ones, friends, family and colleagues, as well as feelings of being stuck due to home confinement. The opportunities include more time for self-care as any daily commute has been eliminated. This is also an opportunity to reflect on what we have been taking for granted and what we will appreciate when the immediate threat of the virus subsides. Let’s take a closer look at some of these challenges, before identifying some ways to shift our relationship with the unease.
It is natural to feel anxious and concerned about the global pandemic and it is important to recognise these emotions are normal. In addition to staying at home, many people are worried about whether or not they have COVID-19. A normal sneeze or sniffle in response to pollen in the air may trigger heightened concerns. When this happens, remember that you are only at risk of contracting COVID-19 if you have been in contact with someone who has the virus. That is why social distancing is so important. Because without contact between people, the virus cannot spread. Regular hand-washing will also help to stop the spread through surface contamination, especially after visiting the supermarket. Finally, do not touch your face during or after the visit. With these simple modifications in behaviour, you will greatly reduce the risk of contracting the disease and can feel a little more at ease.
While you can not control what happens, you can control how you react. There are many practices that can help to cultivate and grow stronger foundations of inner calm and peace. This sense of inner peace and harmony is not only good for your own health and well-being, but can also help others. If you feel emotions rising, use it as a cue to bring your attention to your breath. Observe three breaths and see if you can just remain aware of what your breath is doing. If it is comfortable for you, try counting from 1 to 5 on each inhale and each exhale.
Meditation, yoga or mindful movements are ways to bring your mind into alignment and union with your body and help to shift your state of being from a noisy mental state to a fuller awareness of your whole self. Try starting the day with 15 minutes of contemplative or mindful practice. Contemplative practices help to lower stress and improve overall health. The World Health Organisation also recommended limiting daily news intake to once or twice a day to reduce stress levels, which can also have a negative impact on the immune system.
Mental Fitness Resources
There are many resources out there, including free talks on youtube. A number of spiritual leaders are sharing live broadcasts during this time. See what resonates with you. Some ideas to get started are Sadhguru, Plum Village, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Deepak Chopra. Oprah Winfrey is also doing a series of free inspiring talks. If you see something that resonates with you, share it via email or messaging with friends and family. That way you can help to uplift each other.
References and Links
Coronavirus: What is ‘flattening the curve,’ and will it work?
Social Distancing FAQ: How It Helps Prevent COVID-19
Hand Washing – WHO Method
Symptoms of COVID-19
Inner Calm and Peace
Covid-19: How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces?
Contemplative Practices: A Strategy to Improve Health and Reduce Disparities
World Health Organization offers tips for living under coronavirus quarantine: Don’t drink, smoke or watch too much news
Oprah Winfrey’s new Apple TV+ show, ‘Oprah Talks COVID-19,’ arrives for free streaming
Mindfulness – How to Meditate