Right now, our world is hurting and in turmoil—panic and fear is the overriding emotion for many, caused by an overload of overwhelming information and uncertainty.
Entire countries are completely shut down and travel across the world has been halted and disrupted. Our way of life has come to a screeching halt, and it feels like someone is hitting a reset button.
Here, in the United States, we are being asked to self-isolate and remain in our homes. Schools and churches are closed, large events are being postponed or canceled, and everyone is working at home as much as possible to help our community stay healthy, and stop the spread of a virus that is sweeping the world.
For an extrovert, the requested period of self-isolation or complete quarantine feels overwhelming, and may even create more of a sense of panic. Being alone too long can cause heart rates to rise, and anxiety to climb. We need people, and their energy, to recharge ourselves and create calm. Without that social connection, it can feel isolating—as if we don’t exist.
We need people to keep our energy and spirit from depressing.
For an introvert like myself, the self-isolation is welcomed. Being around too many people for too long causes my heart rate and anxiety to rise. I struggle to remain calm with so many other emotions and energies from other people. A quick trip to the grocery store is even overwhelming. The energies from everyone else depletes and exhausts me and I have to escape frequently to find peace. My energy is recharged when I am alone and away from people.
But, whether we are an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in the middle, human beings need connection.
We are created for it, and it is part of our DNA. After an extended period of time, even us introverts who love to be alone may experience the same pains as our extrovert friends without human connection. It can be detrimental to our overall well being in our minds and bodies.
So what can we do to embrace a lifestyle that feels so foreign and requires a great deal of social change, quickly?
1. Breathe. When you’re feeling an overwhelming sense of panic or fear, stop whatever you are doing and breathe. Deeply into your abdomen on your inhale, fill your whole belly, and then as you exhale push all the air out. Notice your breath, and focus on how it feels and sounds to fill yourself with the air. Make sure you focus on the exhale. Sometimes we do not exhale all the way through. If you have trouble breathing, focus on a picture anywhere around you that has a square. Follow the square with your eyes and your breath, over, and over again, until you are able to slow your breathing. Then look for something you can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste as you breathe. Notice those things and keep following the square with your breath.
Breathing is something we all do, but when we are uncertain or overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, it is something we forget to do deeply. This practice of breathing with awareness will help you to focus on the present and stay grounded within your environment. It can be done anywhere at any time and it is free. You can breathe alone or with someone who may be overwhelmed or panicking. With your 70-year-old mother who is anxious over the news, or with your 10-year-old child who may be cranky and acting out from being cooped up. Sit with them and start breathing until they are breathing with you. Put your hands on your heart to feel your heartbeat as you breathe together. Breathing is calming and connecting.
2. Learn. We live in an information age where knowledge is power and wealth. Our minds are our greatest asset. In times of crisis and chaos, we can still increase our knowledge and understanding. Technology is a great tool for learning. There are a lot of free online courses you can take, in almost any subject and many inexpensive options. Sites such as Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, Lynda, and more. Currently, I am taking online classes in aromatherapy, copywriting, marketing, and sales. I am also listening to podcasts on a variety of subjects: meditation, money, codependency, trauma, and diving into a novel, or two. Figure out your learning style, whether it is auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, and dive into a subject that piques your interest. Learn something new or try something you’ve always wanted to try.
3. Move. Our physical bodies need movement every day to stay healthy, and for our minds to have a better chance of thinking clearly. Walk on a treadmill or around your neighborhood, run—I do this while I listen to podcasts—or find an exercise that you can do at home. There are a lot of free and inexpensive options online. My current daily yoga practice is taught online and involves a physical and meditative component.
4. Create. What is your passion? What drives you? Is there anything you can create or work on that brings you satisfaction—painting, music, writing, drawing, singing, crafting, designing a game online, woodworking, taking pictures, working on or building a car? Make time to do what brings you joy and is unique to you.
5. Connect. We have so many options at our disposal to be able to connect with other human beings in an age where information reigns supreme. There are social media platforms, online communities, and endless technology choices. There are apps like Marco Polo which is a video text messaging app that allows us to see one another while we chat though we don’t have to be available at the same time.
There is also Zoom, which allows us to see each other in real-time. For families, or schools, or business meetings. Don’t forget about good old-fashioned phone calls to hear one another! Call an old friend or family member you have not spoken to in a while. Host an online watch party and connect with friends and family members while you all tune in to the same show or movie together. Join an online reading group and host online book discussions about the newest thing you’re reading. Meetup groups online. For example, my writing group hosts online writing meetups and we all connect online while we write together. Music! One of the biggest ways we connect with others. Listen and share in an online group or chat, or sing with one another as our Italian friends did recently while they were quarantined in their communities. Open the window and share the gift of song.
We are born and eventually will die but we each have a different story to live and leave behind.
The one thing everyone has the same amount of, every day, is time. What we do with the 24 hours we are given determines the rest of our lives. Regardless of where we receive our energy or peace, we all need connection. This is life. We need to connect in the ways that we can—lift one another, and remind each other that we are not alone.
Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.