I’ve been stunned by this COVID19 pandemic and it’s huge impact on virtually every corner of my life. In fact, I still sometimes can’t believe it is really happening. But do these unprecedented times signify something more for each and every one of us? Could this be a golden opportunity?
When it first hit our shores, I tried to carry on as normal. ‘I’ll just wash my hands some more. It’ll be fine.’ I thought as I sneered at the panic buyers. The newspapers were hammering us with scare stories of how many people were dying in China, then Italy. ‘But we have the NHS here in Great Britain, we’ll be okay!’ After all, both bird flu and swine flu, and all the panic that was generated then, didn’t amount to much. The British Government will have it all under control. They’ve got plans for epidemics. I’m sure there’s more to it than just herd immunity; and self-isolate for fourteen days if you get a cough, you’ve come into contact with a carrier, or you’re over seventy; and a here’s a video showing how to wash your hands.
Pandemic of Fear
Week two – I started wondering whether the panic buyers hadn’t been right when I entered the supermarket for my weekly shop. Nothing but tumbleweed blowing through. Never mind, hunker down. There’s enough to eat. Keep working. Don’t add to the problem. Get on with it. Help the community and join a social media group. Self-isolate for seven days if you have a cough or temperature. Hang on a minute, wasn’t that fourteen days last week?
Week three – the government started to issue stricter instructions: work from home if you can; social distancing; don’t worry about the lay-offs or paying your bills, we’ll think of something; clap for the NHS; ’Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring!’ But still the media continue to bombard us with death rates, and the government issues new edicts in a daily bulletin I don’t watch. I hear about them from all quarters nevertheless, and I start to feel afraid anyway.
Week four – lock down! New laws – police state. Don’t go out unless essential. Drones up above. Report your neighbours. Arrests. Contradictory information. Not enough tests. Not enough protective clothing for NHS and emergency staff, nor indeed any employees still ‘out there’. Money is not getting through to ordinary people, including the self-employed…The fear pandemic is in full swing, and I’m making videos to help people from heading over the edge of their mental health!
Anger & Blame
I don’t know about you, but after the initial denial and it-won’t-affect-me, phase, I started to get increasingly angry. I was ranting at the local news on tv (I gave up on the national news a long time ago!) Ranting at posts on social media. Ranting to my husband. Even ranting to my bemused dog. As my freedoms and rights disappeared, I signed petitions and blamed everyone under the sun. Young people for partying. Londoners packed into the underground, and then spreading to their holiday home locations. Politicians, especially politicians, who couldn’t even follow their own advice let alone protect and serve the people. Banks for not passing on low-rate loans. People who were walking up and down my street getting their one hour of exercise outside per day – they’d never done it before!
Get Back to Normal
If only everyone did what they were supposed to do and stay home we wouldn’t be in this mess – we could get back to normal.
Except that we know in our heart of hearts it will never return to ‘normal’. We are beginning to realise the current conditions could be around for some time. Friends and relatives may die and we’ll never see them again. Some big firms, high street names, airlines, and thousands of little businesses, are going bust. We are in the early stages of grieving for what we had and what we lost.
Grief is a funny old thing. We swap easily between denial and despair, anger and depression, bargaining and acceptance. There’s no straight line through grief. It ebbs and flows like the tides in the ocean. It can be both full on and forgotten in the space of an afternoon. Then it comes roaring back the next morning. Whatever you are feeling now is what it is. Instead of trying to suppress an overwhelm of emotion, allow as much of it as is safe for you to feel right here right now. Accept that all your emotions have validity. You have reasons for feeling as you do. They may be different from anyone else’s, that’s okay. Acknowledge them, don’t bury them under busy-ness, alcohol or food.
Safe in the Present Moment
If they get too much, take a deep breath in through your nose and let it slowly out your mouth. Repeat out loud, or in your mind, five things that you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can physically feel, including your feet on the floor now. It will bring you back safe to the present moment, just as it has done for me too.
What’s Important in Your Wild & Precious Life
When you can allow and experience your emotions, not dwell on them or ruminate, but simply feel them, they are like little signs indicating what is really important to you in this wild and precious life of yours. Notice whether your fears and emotions are about your health, your friends, your family, love, justice, government, a sense of purpose, fulfilment, satisfaction, freedom, nature, money (if money, what does it give you or get for you? A sense of security, belonging, freedom to pursue the things that fire you up, etc.) What is it that you truly, madly, deeply care about? Now is a very good time to start to figure that out.
The world is likely to be a different place from now on. What can you offer to this changing world? To what end will you expend your energy? Find new meaning – make decisions, connections, move, learn, grow, adapt, evolve! You are being gifted the space to do so. If you were living according to your values before, you will still, just maybe in a different way. If you weren’t, you have a golden opportunity to set out your intention for your future. You can be sure that others are setting out their intention to capitalise on it, so start to make your choices now. Throw yourself whole heartedly into making your future in your image. Don’t just be done to, do what you can. As you weave in and out of the plethora of emotions that accompany this time, remember – unprecedented times mean unprecedented opportunities – what are yours?