Since the Global Pandemic hit us a few months ago, the human race has been put to the test. Within days, our lives were turned upside down and we were expected to accept the “new reality”- no questions asked. We have been let go from employment positions/ careers. We have been distanced from our families and friends. We have been forced to wear facial mask coverings. We have been forced to go without basics necessities such as; food, toilet paper, or cleaning products. Most of all, we have been left to guess when this all will end. This “new reality” has added a lot of stress, anxiety, depression, and confusion to our already hectic lives.
It is normal to feel an increase in these symptoms during a massive health crisis. The news has been providing repeated information about the virus and the government’s response 24/7. The grocery store shelves have been left barren, leaving us to wonder “will I be able to feed my family this week?” The unpredictable happened and the world was not prepared.
Everyone is feeling the pressure from the balance of our selfish desires and how to keep ourselves protected. We want to go out to eat. We want to get a haircut. We want to spend time with our loved ones. We want to not get sick. We want to make decisions. We want control over our lives again.
In the material world, control strategies generally work well. If we don’t like something, we figure out how to avoid it or get rid of it, and then we do so. A wolf outside your door? Get rid of it! Throw rocks at it, or spears, or shoot it. Snow, rain, or hail? Well you can’t get rid of those things, but you can avoid them by hiding in a cave or building a shelter. Dry, arid soil? You can get rid of it by irrigation and fertilization, or you can avoid it by moving to fertile ground. But how much control do we have in our internal world; the world of thoughts, memories, emotions, urges, and sensations? Can we simply avoid or get rid of the ones we don’t like?(Harris, 2008, pg.12.)
I feel that the above passage from the novel The Happiness Trap, explains some of the frustration that the human population is experiencing during the pandemic. We all love to be in control of our own situations, lives, destiny. When that control is taken away, we feel lost, anxious, trapped, or lonely. The truth of the matter is that we are not able to hide or run from the complex emotions that we are feeling during this time, and this is also causing more complex emotions. Physical and emotional control bring use security in our surroundings. The question that I would like to propose is; when will we get that security back, or will we find some other ways to feel secure?
How can we be kind to each other?
Now that we have acknowledged all the emotions that everyone is experiencing at once, it is important to remember to be kind to each other during this time. It is important to remember that others are also feeling the stress, frustration, or sadness. I know that asking for everyone to exhibit more patience when they have already been extremely patient, is a selfish request. Nevertheless, remember to have a little more patience with essential workers, friends, spouses, or family members. One random act of kindness can spread faster than the virus. The simple conversation that you have with a parent or grandparent, could trigger them to reach out to long lost friendship or family member. Greeting a stranger at the grocery store or in the park, can lift their spirit. I know that if we are able to share a little more patience and kindness, we can get through this together.
Also, remember to be kind to yourself during this time. Just as it is important to care for your neighbor, it is just as, if not more, important to look inward. Recognizing what you need to maintain balance or to heal yourself. It could be snuggling with your pet, a walk around the block, reading a book, time alone, or dancing in your living room. Self- care is more important now than ever, find the activity that can heal your soul. What speaks to you? What makes you feel whole afterward? What helps you find brief peace? I would like to end this blog post with a Mindfulness Exercise, to promote self- realization, thought, and healing:
A Mindfulness Exercise
We are naturally kind. Even in our lowest moments when we feel useless or of no value, our inner kindness can give us the strength to pull through. Take 5 minutes to remember episodes of kindness and generosity you’ve witnessed or experienced- whether it was epic heroic kindness worthy of a Hollywood movie or something very small like giving a smile to someone who needed it. Remember these times in as much detail as possible. By keeping them in your mental wallet you can always access them as a reminder that both you and the world are full of kindness and generosity (Gunatillake, 2018.)
Gunatillake, R. 2018. Mindfulness cards: Simple practices for everyday life. Chronicle Books, San
Harris, R. 2008. The happiness trap: How to stop struggling and start living. Shambhala
Publication, Inc. USA.