Updated: Mar 26, 2020
The last few weeks have such an unprecedented experience that I don't think we've got much to compare it to in our lifetime. We can however look to our ancestry for inspiration to understand how we might manage to overcome this crisis and rise more resilient. Just knowing that my grandmother survived WW2 eating potato peel as a 13 year old girl who was sent to work on a farm in Hamburg, Germany because her home was unsafe is somewhat reassuring to me that I can get through this. But it's understandable to feel fear and anxiety in this current climate; we have little control of circumstances that will affect our livelihoods, ability to socialise in person for sometime and live a normal life as we once knew it.
There is a harmful virus spreading rapidly across the whole planet, no one is exempt from possible infection, Prince Charles, politicians and even Greta Thunberg have got symptoms and some of them tested positive too. Covid-19 uses human bodies to expand its reach and wage its war, sometimes without symptoms, no discrimination and it has so many moving parts we can't even see with the naked eye. Freedoms we'd normally take for granted are changing very quickly as we respond collectively, distance ourselves physically, track, treat and trace infection and do what we can to save as many lives as we can. We're all a bit shell shocked to say the least. We're trying our best to adjust to the largely unknown and uncertainty of what is ahead of us and how this will affect our lives both in the coming weeks and future. Even our government leaders are learning on the job but it's not all bad news. We can adapt, learn from this and rise stronger and more sustainable in the future. One can see this pandemic as natures way of slowing us humans down and forcing us to reflect on our impact.
Entering isolation is both challenging for a whole host of reasons and but also an invaluable opportunity to take care of yourself and each other. In this taking care of ourselves we can manage our own anxiety and resource ourselves to take care of the aspects of our lives that need to be adjusted quickly. Beginning to adjust means facing into the difficulties, staying present and taking care of your finances so you can begin ensuring you can get through the economic downturn we're heading into. The government have provided small to medium business packages to help, sole traders and people on Newstart will receive more financial help and students will also be able to gain support. You can do all this online using the My Gov portal 24/7. You can also access relief packages through other private institutions if you let them know your income has been affected by Covid-19. Making sure you use the pandemic language as the reason you need help; private institutions have insurances and policies in place already but you need make them accountable as many won't offer it willingly.
Once you have got the ball rolling on your financial support it is time to ensure your daily life working from home or being at home is nourishing and supporting your mental and emotional health. Getting back to the basics of good sleep hygiene, a well balanced diet including lots of vitamin and mineral rich fresh ingredient, exercise, meditation, journalling, reading, bathing and activities that increase your wellbeing. We recommend writing a creative list of all the things you can do that you enjoy and that nourishes you daily. Get your children to do the same as they are also vulnerable now they have reduced community support, time with their friends and their daily lives have been disrupted.
Another great way to manage anxiety is to embrace all the feelings that are coming up for you, getting curious about them and trying to identify exactly what they are. You might notice anxiety but is there something underneath it? For example grief might be coming up for you too. Grief for the loss of normalcy and life being forever changed. There is also anger that might be presenting itself, anger at the way this invisible virus is causing so much devastation, the way the government is responding, the way you may have lost your job or income. All these reasons can be justified and it is important you make space for all your emotions and not try to avoid or deny them if you can. Trying to think your way out of a difficult emotion is mostly ineffective and can be really frustrating but when your emotions and thinking are congruent your wellbeing increases. Sometimes denial is a survival strategy allowing just enough of the emotion through for you to continue to cope with everyday life and adapt in your time so just go easy on yourself through this and try to learn to trust yourself. Make sure you work with someone you can trust who gives you agency and empowers you to get to know your own coping strategy that will work best. Humans are diverse and we all process differently and we don't need a one size fits all approach given to us by an "expert" when we are the experts on ourselves.
In mindfulness coaching and counselling we encourage orienting toward emotion in the body as tone and sensation rather than just focussing on just the cognitive content about the emotion and the narratives connected to it. This approach requires you to practice a mindfulness meditation and develop the ability to hold a kind and gentle space for all emotions somatically but doing so with awareness, equanimity and compassion. It can sometimes require you to pendulate from a space of less intensity back into the emotion sensation but the idea is to learn to embrace the difficult sensation where it exists in the body.
Right now you might notice tightness and tension in your chest and heart and one could be forgiven for mistaking anxiety for mild Covid-19 symptoms but if you have any doubts practice some mindfulness of breathing and seek medical support especially if you come down with a fever too. You'll notice with anxiety there might be a judgment and disliking towards self as well as craving a more wholesome state and it's often in that craving or attachment to some other state that can be the very thing that keeps you separated from it. Mindfulness is really the practice of allowing the whole human experience in the present moment and when we allow our anxiety we lessen the perpetual ramping up of it because anxiety is like the flight energy that immobilises our energy to run away into future thinking. Once we embrace the difficult emotions back in the body we no longer perpetuate anxiety based thinking, we no longer need to run away and avoid our anxiety. This is the practice of getting to know our anxiety body, even befriending it can be really helpful in getting to understand your bodily reactions, it's protective mechanisms and listening more deeply so body and mind can align and we can take care of it. I liken my anxiety to an overprotective friend who has a giant heart and wants me to be safe no matter what.
With Mindfulness Coaching and Counselling we offer the opportunity to connect with a teacher who can help you navigate these challenging times and create a relationship for grounding, insight and support. By sharing your challenges, committing to your self care in a community of others who are doing the same, you can make meaning from this experience, find opportunities for growth and emerge from this time resilient and ready for the next instalment of what it means to be human. And you just like every single one of us gets to be part of writing the story of our evolution.
Join us for FREE Wednesday morning Mindfulness Circle on Google Hangouts. It runs for an hour, will feature different teachers offering support and resources, inspiring conversations and activities to help you understand more about the mindfulness pathway.
Register for our May offering, The Mindfulness Pathway 4-week community course. It's $110 and includes 4 X 90 minute sessions on Zoom on Monday evenings at 7.30pm, a digital workbook, downloadable meditation app, MBSR specific meditation home practice guide, follow up email and video resources to support you and a private 50 minute online session with the teacher.
Discover mindfulness teachings and how to apply it to your personal and professional challenges in private sessions with our mindfulness based coach and counsellor Marion Miller. Private sessions can focus on your relationships, career, study, leadership and wellness. Packages are now being offered at a reduced 30% rate for all new bookings. It includes single, 4 or 8 X 50 minute private sessions, a digital workbook, follow up emails and home practice guide.
All our services are now adapted for self-isolation protocols and I am doing everything I can to stay afloat financially, create new opportunities for our mindfulness community and support the most vulnerable in our human family. We look forward to supporting you too through this difficult time and ask you reach out if you are in need of connection and support or curious about one of our offerings.