We are facing extraordinary and uncertain times as human beings. The Corona Storm, or coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is history in the making. It has triggered our collective fear of death which is causing a ripple effect of behavioral changes, leading to the mass cancellation of events and closure of businesses. There is much talk about the economic impacts, but what about the social and mental health impacts associated with the crisis and social isolation? How can we stay positive and build our inner resilience while weathering the Corona Storm at home? Stress is known to reduce immune system health so reducing our stress can be seen as part of a strategy to slow down the spread of COVID-19. You can choose your preferred way to look at it :).
While we don’t have control over when or if we will catch the virus, it may help to ask ourselves: What do we have control over at this time? We can slow the virus’ spread by isolating ourselves at home. We can remember to offer support to our neighbors, friends, and family at a safe distance. We can find ways to keep a positive mindset, renew our intentions, and come up with creative ways to boost our mental health and resilience.
Here are some mental health practices that I will be using to curb my anxiety and keep a positive frame of mind while weathering the “Corona Storm” at home with my uncle. I hope this list can help to remind you of practices that have worked for you in the past or perhaps give you some new ideas of practices to try at home.
- Laughter– How can we make light of this situation? Does it need to be all doom and gloom? One friend joked: “If the corona virus is still active by the time tick season takes off, we may be having Corona with Lyme!” (Get it? Corona beer with a lime wedge?). I want to look for opportunities to make jokes and turn on a comedy or sitcom instead of the news from time to time.
- Reduce News Time– It’s important to stay informed about the response to the coronavirus. But do we need to watch the news 24/7? I noticed that my anxiety levels are quite high when the news is on. I am going to see if I can get away with only checking the news twice a day. If my uncle wants to watch it…into the bedroom I go!
- Meditation– Meditation is known to help reduce stress. There are many ways to meditate. My favourite way is just sitting upright in bed or on my meditation bench and focusing on my breath while gazing downward. You can also meditate to calming music, with your eyes closed, or with a mantra. I will continue meditating for 5 or 10 minutes every morning.
- Talk with Loved Ones– I am fortunate to be living with my uncle. We can keep each other company, play scrabble, help each other with tasks, tell stories, and make jokes. I will be calling friends and family who live elsewhere to stay in touch.
- Reduce Device Time– I have noticed that the more time I spend in front of screens the more anxious I become. Even if the time is spent talking to loved ones, it has a disembodying effect for me. I forget how my body is feeling or if I need anything. My breathing becomes shallow. I will turn the cell phone onto airplane mode when I am not using it. If I get really anxious, I can commit to checking it only four times a day.
- Walk in Nature– Time spent in nature has been shown to have a positive impact on recovery from stress. Walking in nature can be very calming. Fresh air is also very good for the lungs! Even if you live in a city, you can go to the nearest park, harbor front, garden, or stream and connect with nature. Right now, I am so blessed to be living in a rural place with access to forest and walking trails. I will continue my daily walking routines and perhaps walk with a friend or two at a safe distance (as long as there is no mandatory quarantine).
- Exercise and Yoga– Exercising can help to reduce stress and has positive impacts on anxiety and depression. What are your options for exercising at home? There are options like online videos for classes such as Pilates, running up and down stairs, yoga/stretching, and home workouts. I want to ride the exercise bike more often and renew a daily yoga routine.
- Set Intentions– Social isolation at home is a good time to renew intentions. What projects or goals have you been been wanting more dedicated time to work on? I have been wanting to start a garden. I will be making a plan to start new garden beds this spring and grow seedlings indoors. It gives me something positive to focus my mind on. It will also help with resiliency if there is a shortage of food in the stores or if I need to be in extended quarantine.
- Be Mindful of the Present– The only moment that truly exists is NOW. Keep returning to the present moment and look for the goodness and opportunity in every day life. Take a few DEEP breaths when you notice you are thinking too much about the future or the past and observe what is around you. I intend to stay in the present as much as possible and focus on what I can do now can to help keep a positive mind frame.
- Express Gratitude– Gratitude brings the focus to all that is good and going well, rather than what is missing or what causes fear. What are you grateful for in your life? Do you have shelter, food, clothing, and/or loved ones nearby? Do you have access to the internet? Gratitude practice helps me to cultivate feelings of love and let go of fears. I want to write down what I am grateful for every day and invite my uncle to share what we are grateful for at meal time.
- Write Affirmations– Words are energy and can be powerful forces for good if we use them wisely. Affirmations have helped me to replace fearful thoughts with positive thoughts. If we take something away, we need something else to fill it! I want to write down affirmations like “I am safe, whole, and protected”. “I am well in body, mind, and spirit”. “All is well”. I can write them on pieces of paper and place them on a wall that I look at frequently to help my calm the mind and body.
- Pray to the Creator/Great Spirit/God– The fear of death is common among all human beings and yet we do have a choice. If we believe that our soul lives on after the body dies, then we don’t need to be afraid of death. I believe that God is the source of all life and love. I believe that He protects us when we believe in Him, do His will (follow our intuition), and follow His commandments (outlined in multiple sacred texts). I want to renew my devotion to God through daily prayer, which aligns my thoughts with God’s presence. Aligning with God’s Will fills me with joy and peace.
We have no idea what is coming next in this Corona Storm. We don’t have any control over when or if we will contract the coronavirus. But we CAN minimize our likelihood of succumbing to it and minimize our role in spreading the virus to our community. We CAN find ways to stay calm, healthy, and happy at home. We CAN help our family, friends, and neighbors to stay positive as well. We CAN make choices that advance us on our spiritual paths, overcome our boundaries, and help us to grow as individuals.
I want to remember this Corona Storm as a time that I rose to the challenge, spread positive thoughts in the world, and kept my faith strong. It is temporary folks, the storm WILL pass.
Stay well! Stay strong.