The most important thing to recognize from the onset is that these feelings of stress and anxiety are totally normal. Frankly, there would be something wrong with us if we were calm, cool and collective right now. So step 1, forgive yourself for being stressed, recognize that it is a “normal” feeling right now. We are united in our stress and anxiety. So, next question, how do we deal with the stress?
I think it’s very important to do your best to go back into your regular daily routine as best as possible. Now, that may seem impossible right now. After all, courts are essentially closed right now (all of my hearings for the last 2 weeks have been canceled), and most of us are now working from home and possibly dealing with kids who are home from school. Okay, so it’s a daunting task but it can be done.
But there are daily routines that essentially remain unchanged. When you wake up in the morning, look around your bedroom … everything is where it’s supposed to be, surrounded by four walls and a sturdy roof. Even with the coronavirus lurking about, reflect on the fact that you are much better off than the majority of people in the world right now; better off than the majority of people who ever lived. Take an extra-long shower, just focus on the water cascading all over your body. Just feel the sensation and gently remove any other thoughts from your mind. Have your morning cup of coffee, smell the aroma, feel the warmth of the cup against your palms and fingers. You are exactly where you have been on countless mornings before this crisis. Right at that particular moment, things are okay, you are safe. Look around your home; everything is where it should be and where they were left the day before. Even the kids toys are exactly where they should be – all over the floor scattered about. Again, reflect on the fact that nothing has changed.
Waking up, showering, having a morning cup of coffee at home. Add back as many of your “normal” daily routines as you can, modifying them as needed. So you can’t go to the gym, but you can make up an exercise routine at home. Or you can go jogging, biking or simply walking for an hour each day. You get the idea. Focus on the moment, on the rhythm of your breathing, the sun’s warmth against the back of your neck; gently push out of your mind anything but the sense of what you are doing right now and connect. Think about creating a mantra that you can say to yourself in your mind over and over again, “grateful for this moment,” “I am loved,” “doing the best that I can.” So step 2, do all of your normal daily activities, but do them mindfully, conscious of your feelings and connect to the moment.
Remember you are not alone. Reach out to family and friends. Plenty of people in our community are alone and scared. Make a point of reaching out to them. You will make them feel better. You will feel better. Pass it along; it will come back to you.
I will share more techniques, hopefully, in my next column.