10 Ways To Keep The Stress From Killing You Before The Virus Can.
It’s everywhere — the news about COVID-19 and its latest numbers. You can’t get away from it. It’s in your inbox, on the television, the newsfeed, your Facebook — everywhere. The hype is real. The panic is real. And it’s a constant onslaught.
Normally, I tell people to avoid the news at all costs because it’s mostly a bunch of hyped up stories designed to make you feel unsafe and powerless. It shows the worst side of humanity and lives by the “if it bleeds, it leads” rule of
“reporting”. It is actively unhealthy to watch the news. It stresses you out and leaves you feeling hopeless and alone.
But what about when you NEED to watch the news? With the outbreak, we need new information. We need to know the latest tips on how to stay safe and how to keep our loved ones safe. And while, yes, the media is still hyping the crap out of things, the need to protect yourself and the most vulnerable among us by slowing the spread is vital. So how to we avoid being stressed out and thinking we’re all going to die?
- Be Realistic About Your Own Risk, And Accept What Is: If you are under 50 and have no underlying medical conditions, your risk of dying from this virus is very low. This doesn’t mean you should be cavalier about the virus because your actions impact others. If you walk around carrying the virus — even if it doesn’t kill you, you could be responsible for transmitting it to people it could kill. So once again — maintain the 6 foot rule, don’t go out if sick, don’t go out if you don’t have to, and avoid crowds. And if you’re in one of the at-risk categories, then know that and take precautions to avoid riskier situations. And, in the end, none of us knows when we’re going to die. It could be that a meteor falls out of the sky on our heads, or it could be in a car accident, being hit by a bus,or, yes, the virus. We accept the risk every day without thinking about it. We look both ways before crossing the street, we buckle up and pay attention when driving, and for everything else, we don’t worry about what we can’t control. Just because COVID-19 is new, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply to this rule. Do what you can to mitigate your risk and then let it go. You can’t do anything more.
- Don’t Buy Into The Fear: This is a numbers game. The more people take responsibility for their actions and follow instructions, the faster the planet recovers from this. The sky is not falling. The world is not ending. And we are not all dying. The infection rate at its worst (on the infected cruise ship) was only 20% and on average is MUCH lower than that. According to one epidemiologist, this means some of us are immune and that the quarantine processes are working. His prediction is that, based on current trends, it will die out by the end of May, others are saying it will take 18 months, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. So how do you avoid the fear? You stop running from it. Turn and face it and make a plan for what you would do if the worst thing you can imagine would happen. You see, it is not the thing that could happen that we fear the most — it is our ability (or lack thereof) to handle it that worries us. When you make a plan for how you’re going to handle it, you take that worry off the table and reduce your fear to a manageable level.
- Don’t Buy Into Conspiracy Theories: There are some wild ones going on out there. I’ve had people ask me about them. My mother was a nurse, so I grew up in hospitals. I know what quarantine procedures are, and what we are experiencing are those procedures, nothing more. The faster we comply, the faster we make the world safer for everyone. Always wanted to make a worldwide impact with your life? Today, you can. Stay home. It’s that simple.
- Keep Your Focus On The Present Moment: So many of our worries and fears are about what might happen in the future. And 99.99% of those worries never materialize, but regardless, they suck the life out of us while we engage with them. The monkey mind that screams at us is our survival mechanism trying to get us to pay attention to the perceived danger. So when you start to worry, remind yourself that you are taking all the required precautions and doing everything in your power to make things OK. That will help. You are telling it that you are paying attention. Then bring your focus back to the present moment and say to yourself: “see? Everything is fine.” Take a deep breath, hold it for 4 seconds and release it. Then do it twice more. It is physically impossible to panic and breathe deeply at the same time, so this will also help to quell the stress.
- Make A Time To Worry And Stick To It: If you can’t get your worries to shut up even with the instructions above, then this should help: pick a worry time. I like to choose 5:00pm–5:15pm (or just when you get off work each day). Pick a 15 minute window — no more. And make it near the end of your day. This way every time you start to worry you can tell yourself — “this is not my time to worry. That time is from 5:00pm-5:15pm, and I will worry about this then.” This stops the cycle of worry by giving it a place to exist that is not now. But — and this is important — then you HAVE to worry from 5:00pm — 5:15pm, even if you’re not worried then. You have to take the time to engage the worry and talk to that survival part of yourself. If you don’t, then it will stop believing you when you tell it that it’s not time, and this whole process will break down.
- Be Grateful and Helpful: Start making gratitude lists every morning. This helps to focus on the positive for the day. My husband and I went out and spent about $700 on food and supplies the other day because we had heard that a quarantine was likely in our area in the next couple of weeks. Then we spent the weekend cooking and putting food in the freezer. He mentioned to me how grateful he felt that we had the money and the extra freezer space and that for us it meant that we just had a little extra work to do. Because years ago, that wasn’t true for either of us, so we know what it could have been. You can be grateful for big things like that or smaller things like running water, heat, electricity, food in the refrigerator, etc. And if you’re someone who isn’t sure how you’re going to financially make it through, this is a great time to reach out to friends and family and ask for help — even if that’s something you never do. And if you’re someone who, like us, had the extra and still has some more, think of who in your life maybe doesn’t and reach out with an offer of help. It turns out that we bought too much food to fit in the freezer, so I’m bringing some of it to a friend who recently got out of the hospital and hasn’t had the ability to get out and stock up. Taking your focus off yourself and putting it on helping others is another way to reduce your stress.
7. Smudge: If you’ve never heard of smudge, it’s dried sage. Google it. Smudge is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Whether it works on COVID-19, I have no idea. But it has been scientifically proven to work on other viruses, so it couldn’t hurt. You burn it and it fills the air like incense (warning, the regular sage smells like marijuana when burned, so I prefer the white sage which is what is pictured above.) Native Americans have used it for generations to clear spaces energetically as well as physically, so it will help with your sense of well being as well as the potential physical benefits.
8. Empaths, Pull Your Energy Field In: If you feel what other people feel, this epidemic is 10 times worse on you than on others. Because not only are you feeling your own fear, but you’re feeling everyone else’s. It is more important than ever that you pull in your energy field to within an inch of your skin (this is why you feel other people, you have expanded your energy field so that they are inside it). When you can pull your energy field in, you will only have your own issues to deal with and that will be much easier since you can’t change how other people are feeling. If you need instructions on how to do this, get this Boundaries for Empaths download.
9. Ask Your Guides to Filter the Collective Consciousness Angst For You: Many sensitive people are having challenging dreams as well as feeling generally uneasy and overwhelmed. This is the collective consciousness bleeding into your energy field. Ask your guides to help you filter this out so that you can be with just your own emotions rather than being linked into the morass of negative emotions flying throughout the world right now.
10. Trust in Yourself and the Universe: There is a reason for everything, just as there is a reason for this pandemic. Have faith that this will bear out. Also remind yourself of other times when you thought that things were awful and you’d never survive and then you did. That helps too. Trust yourself to deal with whatever comes your way between now and when this is all over. You are an incredibly competent human. Remember that. You’ll figure it out. You’ll deal with it. And, if you can’t, someone will come along to help you. It’s going to be OK. Remind yourself of that as often as you need to.
This pandemic is showing us just how interconnected we all are. It’s making it clear how much we need each other to step up and take responsibility in each of our lives individually so that we collectively can impact the whole. Do your part and remember that we are doing ours too. Together, we’ll get through this.