What am I seeing as the true weight of this COVID-19 pandemic hits?
People are simultaneously tired of hearing about it and yet still fearfully glued to every update they can find online.
- Do I need to go to the store and get more supplies? Do I have enough toilet paper, hand sanitizer and groceries for an indefinite period of time?
- I am living or traveling abroad…do I return to my country of origin? How long will I need to be in one place? What does this mean for the nomads that don’t really “live” anywhere…?
- Do I shelter in place? I have seen other people sheltering in place, but do I need to be staying home? How far do I need to take this social distancing? How long will this last?
- What will I do for income/work? Will stocks continue to fall? Can I pay my employees? Can I feed my family? How will I earn money during this time?
We need to take a collective deep breath.
The universe is operating on a heightened level of anxiety right now. Not unwarranted, but this will continue to be an ever-evolving situation and we need to learn how to regulate our stress levels to protect both our mental health and immune systems.
I have been asked by some people how I am remaining calm during this pandemic. The truth is I am not.
Perhaps it was just my medical knowledge that took the surprise factor away. I knew something like this was bound to come, although it’s still shocking and you are never prepared to face a global pandemic when it hits. And in many ways I think knowing how truly bad it will get for our frontline healthcare workers and dealing with my guilt for leaving the field all over again has been hard. But as many of you who truly know me will understand, I have just learned to express gratitude for the life that I lead now and have realized that we all serve our own unique role.
So how am I dealing with the anxiety I am feeling? I am trying to channel it in productive ways, but in all honesty, it comes in waves.
Some days I want to talk to friends online, and I feel connected, supported and have the energy to help others. Other days I want to hole away, cry for the lives lost, eat through my food stockpile, and pretend this isn’t happening.
I am doing my best to create a sense of routine, to find joy in the chaos. I am trying new online workouts, I am being inundated with so much new content online that it is crazy. This is definitely the time for content creators.
This is testing my introverted technological limits if you want me to be completely honest. I always thought that I could hide away in a cabin somewhere and be perfectly content, and maybe I could…but the lack of nature being quarantined in the middle of a city of millions of people is getting to me.
I make an effort to go outside and get some sun, even if it’s just on the roof, or in the courtyard. Yesterday, as I was laying on my back in the courtyard, staring up at the sky, semi-meditative, my neighbor curiously approached and asked: “Are you ok?” (In English, I might add). The true answer. “Yes and no.”
None of us know how to handle this new era we are entering. We are all navigating our new reality and it’s been scary these past couple of weeks as we watch familiarity fade away and we are pushed to change and adapt.
So I am writing because it is my outlet, my therapy, my voice to the world in times like now where I feel a little stifled.
This is my plea for us to be REAL with each other. We are all experiencing this pandemic in waves. Some days are better for me, some better for you. We need to lean on each other in these moments—check on your friends and have the courage to say “No, I’m not handling this well today,” or “I really need to chat,” or “Let’s schedule a fun game night so I don’t lose my mind.”
- Check-in with yourself. There is no shame in taking space, not doing anything, and processing.
- Be REAL with others. Drop “fine” from your vocabulary. Let’s be real, none of us are “fine” right now. Use this time to build more real and lasting relationships. Ask for what you need and inquire about others.
- Create structure. With so many of us feeling a lack of control in the outside world, try to at least build some structure and control into your daily routine. You are likely craving it. Whether that’s morning workouts, journaling, art time with the kids, weekly virtual drinks with the ladies, have some regularity to your schedule, particularly if being home is now something totally foreign to you.
- Move your body. Don’t sit, scroll, or binge all day long. Whether it’s dance breaks, online workout classes, sprints up and down the stairs, tricep dips in your chair…it doesn’t matter but get your body moving.
- Food prep if you can. Right now, there is a huge temptation for everyone to snack all day long while at home working, or just not doing much. Try to plan meals, batch cook, and stick to as much of a schedule as possible. I encourage everyone to cook at home, eat as healthy as they can, not only because it will help your immune system, but because mentally you feel better when you do! However, I do also recommend you support local businesses with take-out orders if you can. They are struggling too.
- Get CREATIVE. If you find yourself with more time due to social distancing and quarantine regulations, pick up a new hobby or skill instead of binge-watching Tv. Read more books, learn a new language, or take an online class. Get creative with random ingredients and have a family cook-off…or use your creativity in other ways to keep your mind engaged, learning, and stimulated.
- Self-soothe. This may look different for each person but figure out what works to reduce your stress levels and create space and time to do that thing. Whether you need to meditate more, journal or write about your quarantine experiences, create a podcast or vlog, take more bubble baths, give your quarantine partner massages, or light candles and clean out your space, etc.
Sending love to all the communities that have been the hardest hit so far, including China, Italy, Spain, much of Europe, and the U.S.
Love from Mexico City.