Some gentle reminders amidst the COVID-19 crisis

Source: Google Images.

I read a thoughtful newsletter from work today that reminded me of a few things I have been neglecting to do, and I want to pass on the message…

It’s true that we are living in one of the most uncertain times right now from both the health and economy perspectives. The spread of the virus affected us not only physically and financially, but also emotionally as we all trying to configure how we are going to work and live during the pandemic.

Additionally, with the onslaught of information from the media regarding new cases and increase in death toll each day it can trigger much fear and stress within us. Thus, it is important for us to stay in tune with our thoughts and emotions during this difficult time and actively practice self-care.

Do a quick check-in with our emotional and physical states throughout the day by asking ourselves the question “How am I feeling right now?” Acknowledge when we are not feeling so great and give ourselves the permission to take a breather and use it as a cue for some self-care (e.g., meditation, yoga, warm bath, listen to our favorite music, watch our favorite movie/TV show, etc.).

Aside from taking care of ourselves, don’t forget to take care of one another. As the virus force more of us to live and work in isolation it is crucial more than ever for us to stay connected to each other. As human beings, we thrive on social connections. Thus, while it can be tempting to stay in our own corner/space at this time, being isolated for an extensive period will exacerbate all of our negative thoughts and feelings; and ultimately, will take a toll on our overall well-being.

So, reach out. Do a random checking in with our co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc. on how they are feeling and doing. If we happened to learn from one of our check-ins that there is a problem, don’t feel the pressure to solve anything or offer any definite solutions. Simply listen. That alone is enough. Being fully present and listen with compassion or intend to understand are some of the best gifts we can offer to each other during any major crises.

Borrowing the words of the beloved Mister Rogers:

Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered just one kind word to another person. […] Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many. […] In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.

Last but not least, while fear can be beneficial (e.g., it heighten our sense of awareness and act as a motivator for us to take action) we should be cautious when we allow fear to dictate how we are living our lives. We should avoid letting fear be the primary driver of our major decisions in life. Instead of fear, we should aim to ground our decisions on the basis of love. From my past experience, it is only the love-based not fear-based decisions that brought the most good — not only for me, but for the people/world around me.

So, during this critical time let us actively choose love over fear. Let us fully acknowledge our fear, but also embrace it as opportunity. Collectively, let us figure out how to combine our superpowers so that we can best serve and support each other amidst the crisis. Perhaps, it can be as simple as speaking up for someone when we see they are experiencing racism and xenophobia during the crisis or as complex as developing machine learning models to track the spread of the disease.

In either case, we need to recognize that in the face of great adversity we are never as helpless as we think we are. There is so much good that we can bring to our life and the lives around us when we do it out of love rather than fear.

We are all in this together; and as long as we stick by each other. We got this.