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March 31, 2020

Shift from Panic to Resilience: 6 Ways to Self-Care & Community-Care in a Pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, our lives are changing rather quickly.

Shelter-in-place orders. Lockdowns. Racism. Panic-buying. Essential supply shortages. Layoffs. Illnesses. And deaths. All of these things are happening at a massive scale in unprecedented ways.

This situation has and is altering our lives as we know it.  

Many of us are grieving over what we had. And many of us are clinging onto what we have left. Some of us have lost our loved ones. Some of us are fighting for our lives. Some of us are risking our lives to save others, burning through whatever savings we have left to stay afloat, letting go of employees even if we don’t wish to, or witnessing the collapse of our businesses

We are dealing with this pandemic in the best way we can with what we know. And with so many things coming at us at the same time, it is excruciatingly tough.

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, helpless, lost, and vulnerable. Feeling this way is natural and understandable. And what’s key is extending compassion to these places so we do not wallow in these emotional states and get stuck.

Our feelings need to be met. And this pandemic has presented that opportunity to us. To really meet ourselves and create the room that is needed so we can respond to our situation in a different way. To muster the courage to try new things and step up in support of our communities so we can shift from panic to resilience together.

Humanity is at war with the coronavirus, and we need an even more resilient world now than ever.

But to make any sort of impact on this collective effort, it starts with ourselves.

Self-Care Tip #1: Tune out the noise. Pause and acknowledge what’s happening inside.

It’s natural for us to feel some degree of groundlessness. It could be our loss of control. Our loss of freedom. Isolation. Fear of death. We are forced to pause and think twice about the meaning of our lives. 

If we’ve been glued to the media, let’s curb our exposure to it and get in the habit of fact-checking our sources. If sleeping has been tough, what if we augmented our sleep with the cozy sounds of rain or pink noise? My point is, let’s cut out the chaos and release the tension so it doesn’t run us.

We simply owe ourselves a good, long pause. Just to digest what is unfolding before us and to meet ourselves where we are.

Is there any anxiety, fear, grief, sorrow, anger, or worry? Notice those feelings, especially the ones we may avoid. Acknowledging their presence helps us melt that inner resistance and thaw the armoring in our bodies.

And if we’ve got a lot of pent-up emotions, let’s clear out those stuck emotions and bring ourselves deeper into our awareness to see what’s showing up. To breathe deeply and settle down with a body scan or meditation to witness what is happening inside. 

Just to be present with ourselves with no agenda. No judgment.

Self-Care Tip #2: Connect with our support network and keep building it. Social distancing may be physically isolating, but it’s all about establishing solidarity through tough times.

Tending to our family, friends, and colleagues with a call, text, or video chat can help us build trust and intimacy in those relationships. As we do so, it keeps us strong and connected so we don’t fall into the slippery slopes of isolation.

If we wish to expand our connection, communities are another great pillar to our support systems. More wellness and personal development experts are engaging us online with generous offerings to help us weather these times. Whether it’s slowing down and savoring our moments with yoga or working on our lung health and grounding ourselves with qigong, there are many great sharings to help us get out of that sustained fight-or-flight mode. Anything to help each other move through these times and calm those nerves.

Humor makes another great remedy. And it’s hard to feel like a victim when we get good at making ourselves laugh.

On my hard days, I’ve gotten into the habit of searching for the things that make me smile or laugh, and sharing it with others. I used to think social media was draining, but I’ve curated it to the point where I have intentionally connected and followed the folks who resonate with me. The ones who share the common flavors of humor with me and get who I am.

Memes are infinite these days and awesome things to share, so long as we are mindful of our audience. Take note of the people and groups we gravitate to and who makes us chuckle.

Self-Care Tip #3: Strengthen our resilience with the willingness and perseverance to try new things.

Disrupting ourselves isn’t always a bad thing. The unfamiliar often gets our creative juices flowing. This is analogous to working with an incomplete set of crayons. Say we have a box of 12 crayons and one is missing. The green crayon. And pretend we were asked to draw a forest in springtime. What’s stopping us from creating that picture with what we have? 

Nothing. 

What’s more important is focusing and acting on what we have and what’s within our control. With the shortages in hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and masks, people are reinventing the ways they produce and distribute these essential items.

We now have people making facemasks at home for healthcare workers. We now have distillers turning whiskey and gin into hand sanitizers. We now have groceries offering “senior-only” hours to ensure the needs of our elderly are being met. We now have restaurants giving out toilet paper with takeout orders and offering curbside delivery. We even have a florist selling bouquets of toilet paper for people to gift to loved ones.

How can each of us show up?

If our minds are still running the show, let’s change up the routine and give ourselves a quick 5 to 10-minute breather. Maybe it’s getting a dose of vitamin D and practicing social distancing outdoors. Walking our dog or stepping out with a buddy (keeping six feet apart) can make all the difference. Think of it as giving ourselves the room to explore nature with our basic senses and getting creative with what we have in front of us.  

While we may have our self-care regime down, do we have any spare time and energy to help others?

Community-Care Tip #1: Support our most vulnerable people as well as our folks on the frontlines.

Have we noticed what’s happening to our communities—the people and businesses who support our everyday lifestyle and thrive from our continued support? These are the ones who provide our basic means to live. The ones we love to visit. And the ones who deliver the most amazing experiences to us.

If any of us are cooped up at home bored, what would it look like to show up in a more present and compassionate way? What’s stopping us from turning our boredom into something that’s of service to humanity?

How can we express our way of reducing inequity?

We can…

>> Thoroughly wash our hands with soap (for 20 seconds).
>> Practice social distancing (keeping six feet apart).
>> Minimize our essential shopping trips and stay at home.
>> Buy what we needed in such a way that we don’t aggravate the shortage of essential supplies.
>> Donate to a cause to save lives or support those in need.
>> Connect with our neighborhood in case any one of us needs help.
>> Share what we do best online or share with the most vulnerable folks.
>> Take a virtual class with our favorite teachers and donate in support of their work.
>> Purchase locally grown farm products from our local farmers.
>> Check up on our people with a phone or video chat. Just to hold their space and be ready to listen.
>> Help people find new jobs and encourage them to network.
>> (If we’re employers) Consider what employees have to say before acting on the thought of laying them off. Many of us may be willing to share the workload and reduce work hours to help others.  

Let’s not underestimate the kindness and generosity of our community. Many people are risking their own health to ensure the health and safety of our communities. Health care workers. Grocery and transit workers. Law enforcement. And many more. It’s thanks to them that the majority of us can sustain our way of living at home. While they stay up working in high-risk zones, let’s do the best we can to support them.

>> Community-Care Tip #2: Share the facts rather than opinions, and convert the defiers into supporters. Protect our communities.

Any one of us could be asymptomatic carriers without realizing it and put others at risk. Various public health officials have already advised that the COVID-19 does not discriminate by age, race, or income level. Many credible sources are sharing regular updates with us (World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and National Public Radio). Yet, we’ve had…

Young spring breakers partying at the beach. Partygoers who exposed themselves at a farewell party. A pastor who held a church gathering of 1,000 people.

Every one of us plays a part in a broader, complex community. And every one of us can help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections by practicing social distancing. What would it take to respect humanity and act responsibly? From what we’ve seen, no one gets a free pass at this pandemic.

If we are witnessing behaviors that put our community at risk, call it out and share the facts. And if it becomes difficult, garner the support of influencers (if possible) or law enforcement (in the worst case) to help reinforce the change. American public leaders and health officials are endorsing a model that shows why we must act now. Humanity succeeds when we take collective action and lead with compassion for others.

>> Community-Care Tip #3: As we keep our communities safe, it also means there is no odd man out.

Our success does not exclude the rising events of discrimination: “Chinese coronavirus;” “Go back to China.”

Go to the atomic level, and we’re no different. COVID-19 does not care about our origins. Instead of taking marginalized actions that undermine our community and delay our efforts to protect each other, let’s remind ourselves that humanity is at war with a global pandemic

If we’re the bystanders witnessing some form of harassment,

>> Help disarm any displaced tension. Stand with the victim (six feet apart) out of solidarity.
>> Call out the perpetrator for harmful labeling.
>> Call the cops if the situation is getting out of hand.  

The moment we label others or project our insecurities onto others, we start to lose meaning in what we shared together as humans. And those shared pieces are critical to helping humanity move forward.

History is there to remind us of our past ignorance so that we don’t repeat the undue sufferings of the masses. Finger-pointing never got us anywhere and only brought us transgenerational trauma. If we’re tired of the panic that’s happening at mass scale, let’s meet it with kindness, generosity, and compassion. To honor mankind and remind ourselves of what we can do to help each other.

Should there be fears arising within us,

>> Acknowledge their existence and listen to their underlying meaning.
>> Understand why they are there and how they’re manifesting in us.
>> Check the facts and notice where the projections are happening.
>> Notice where we can extend compassion—in ourselves and with others.

Do humanity a favor and express solidarity for the sake of saving it.

We’re moving through these tough times together. Setting collective intentions and taking collective action. Sharing the pain. Sharing the lessons learned. Sharing whatever comes out of it. 

For what it’s worth…  

Help us shift humanity out of panic and into resilience.

We can make a difference at the individual level. But when we take it up to our communities and go beyond, we are doing our part in collectively creating a resilient world for humanity.

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Kim Gobok  |  Contribution: 3,760

author: Kim Gobok

Image: Branimir Balogović / Unsplash

Editor: Kelsey Michal