A Shared Experience: Corona Coping

Coping in Corona TimesOur family has already been directly affected by teachers and friends testing positive. We are sad and overrun with worry.  We are doing everything we can to be together as we try to make sense of what’s going on. We are with you every step of the way.

As the demand intensifies, I want to say I have no idea how to handle this and yet I know we are going to be okay. A mixed emotion, on one side of the coin the idea of simplicity seems like a wonderful idea. I’ve always felt that boredom is where creativity and inspiration is possible. Could there possibly be an answer there? Maybe I can do a pseudo-home mindfulness retreat, hunker down and cook foods I love, allowing the world to pass like clouds of coronavirus clouds. Would that create a sense of inner calm? 

But… that’s not reality right now. 

I am nervous like everyone. We have never experienced such an immediate cultural shift. I don’t believe we’ve had such a national response since possibly World War 2. I wasn’t around at that time so I have no idea what to do. I am a therapist and so I do my best to hold hope.  I have family members stuck at home, everyone’s job is diminishing, colleagues on the front lines are putting on their warrior armor, clients are concerned, some don’t know what to expect and I fear the rug is soon to be pulled from under all of our feet. Bills are increasing, school delays are real, work is halted, our connections are slowly fading and who even knows if the mail will arrive. Has anyone thought about that? I am still waiting for it to not show which in my anxious mind will mark a shift that I currently can not make sense of.

My sense of personal anxiety hits in some way a minimum of 2x per day. I feel claustrophobic and I’ve been in self quarantine for 5 days due to a close connection having the virus. An overall sense of confusion tells me that gloom is here.

Yes, I am struggling to find a way to understand what’s going on. 

What causes this feeling of anxiety?

My traditional method of coping is beginning to disappear. I can’t be confident of tomorrow’s expectation because I’m not sure I know what it is going to be.  Each coping mechanism just falls like sand through a sieve, diamonds of coping turning to tiny morsels of pseudo-strength I can no longer grasp. The more I move, the faster the coping disappears. Is this what it feels like to be paralyzed? It can’t be. I’m trying to do what I can, is it enough?

Can there be a footing found?

There has to be. This is what keeps me going – My colleagues and I are about to be on a new front line of care as mental health therapists, our daily routine as professionals is being tested and personally it is my key to coping. I too need it as much as possible. We are going through a shared experience. This is slow, and progressive. Oddly, a known delayed impact causes so much concern.

To get through this I think I just need to believe that a shift is possible, keeping the essence of the day human.  I can’t give that up and in order to get through this I too am required to redefine my role. On a good day, I get to witness change. It is the client that is brave, I just am the guide.  If people can do this, can I do it too? It’s a very personal question. Can you?

What I do know is that there’s this sense of self that is willing to work through this because I have no other choice. Could this be something?  It’s gotta be, causing every one of us to co-create on the fly while the changing environment is forced upon us. There’s this silent voice saying, “This isn’t the first time you’ve been forced to change.” I wonder if you have that too?

Leaves of change.

    No sleep = no rest = anxiety

To do this, We need to make sure we get sleep. We all need sleep. Please don’t disregard sleep. Get sleep. I’m serious.. Get Sleep! I know we all say “I know, I know, I know” minimizing the issue due to our intellectualized lifestyles, knowing what we know and that we should do something yet we remain inactive. I can’t believe it either, but sleep is key. It seems to actually create rest. The problem is that the absence of rest creates anxiety and anxiety creates the absence of rest; a never ending cycle.

I struggle with coping too.

Online Activity – it is what it is. I am going to check the internet. I’m sure you will too. We will all read the headlines and skim through each article of interest. Why? Because it’s the norm. It’s one of the only norms that we may feel hasn’t changed. Do you need to be online for 2 hours? 1 hour? what about 30 minutes? Maybe there’s a change we can make here? Online meditation, co-creativity, community support.  I personally think I need between 1-2 hours. Any answer is okay, just know that it can change if you’d like.

If I am not online than I don’t have anything to do.

This is a problem for me too, if I limit my online usage than I have to find other things to do. I read online, I find information online, I am a person online… wait what did I just say? Is that what I want? To be a person online?  What kind of person? What would I be like? Would I wear pants or shorts? Would I be an a**hole or a nice guy? Would people care? Oh geez, there goes my anxiety again. I just can’t stop and sit still to find a new way to learn. I feel like I can’t do much when I’m bored.  I definitely don’t want to learn, I’m tired. 

Can it be a physical reaction?

Anxiety during this time can be quite physical. Exhausted, tense, shaky, shut down, not hungry, too hungry, emotional.. it all sucks. I try to remember that my heartbeat isn’t anxiety. It’s actually a reminder that I’m alive in the moment and that’s when I try to breathe. I’m not asking myself to breath. I’m asking that I notice my heartbeat and not freak out! It is one of the few internal sensations that can be shifted. It takes some awareness but it works. We can become subconsciously reactive to this experience. We feel a heavy chest causing shortness of breath and a tightening of our breathing muscles (especially the diaphragm).  For just this one time please take a moment to see that you are sitting in some state of anxiety. We all are. It’s okay.

If you need something to do, try something new.

If you’re tense, try progressive muscle relaxation – look it up online.

If you need something to do, recreate a sense of freedom from childhood.

If someone else is struggling, work to join them in the moment.


                                       join the moment around you…

                                                                                              step into the situation…

                                                                                                                                    take a breath.

You can build a new normal for years to come.