Am I losing my mind? How long is this going to last? Am I safe? Will we have enough food? What about rent or mortgage payments? What about my business?
What if I lose my income? My job? My home?
A barrage of thoughts plagues my mind. My palms are sweaty. My face feels flush.
What is that lump in my throat? I think my chest feels a bit tight. Is that Corona?
There’s a growing knot in my stomach. And to add to it all, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll survive these symptoms alone, never mind what the future holds in addition to it.
Does this sound familiar?
The truth is I am not alone in feeling this way…No; WE are not alone in feeling this way.
What’s going on?
The majority of the earth’s population is struggling to survive, cope, and understand how the current pandemic is impacting our emotional, physiological, and behavioural responses, leaving behind a trail of stress, grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, and the like. The pandemic has forced us to swiftly make sudden changes, and adapt to a new way of life that feels significantly restricted from what we are used to. It has threatened our most basic needs for health, shelter, food, safety, as well as social connection. These are enough to alarm any individuali and create a sense of unrest as we reflect on what is happening around us.
Constantly watching the news and every social media outlet for updates and changes leaves us feeling saddened, and burdened for those suffering and on the front lines. They are working hard; you may be an essential worker too. You worry about your health and being exposed to the virus. You worry about your family’s exposure. You worry if you will be the one to expose them. What about our elderly parents and grandparents and loved ones? What if they are unsafe, and we cannot see them and help? And somehow through all of this, you are still trying to work, develop new business solutions, homeschool your child perhaps, or simply get from one day to another.
Can we apply patience and self-compassion to the current place in which we find ourselves?
Understandably, our brains respond by wanting to assess the threat, move into planning for survival, and even attempt to find ways to just ‘be’ – as we try to make sense of it all. Can we pause, take a minute to appreciate all the many moving pieces, and acknowledge that it is okay to feel so overwhelmed, and maybe even tired of trying to juggle it all? Can we acknowledge that it’s okay to feel afraid, and that it’s also okay find small silver linings that bring us joy,
Can we then apply this new frame of mind into our daily grind and pace ourselves as we prepare meals and check homework and send emails as we arrange for grocery pickup or deliveries? Can we watch movies while simultaneously handling our finances? Can we squeeze our children, even as we take time to work? Can we look after ourselves also, as we think of and connect with others? Can we disinfect and distance, as we give ourselves time to rest as well? Can we remember that it is perfectly normal to feel out of sorts, or have a down day – even more so in these times? Can we recognize that it’s okay to accomplish less, or feel like we’ve failed today? Can we remember that help is a call or email away, and that there’s no shame in reaching out if we need it? Hope for change is still possible, and tomorrow could be a better day.iii
We are in this Together
As we go through this together, I remind you that we are not alone. Help is available, and we are doing our best to accommodate the rising requests in these times. You and your family’s well–being are more important than an overwhelming to-do list that seems never ending.
Here are a few quick tips to help you feel better while you wait:
- Limit your exposure to the News and Media: Simply grab your facts or highlights of the day, and then move on.
- Fill your time with meaningful activities: Spend time with your family, work out, tackle household to-do projects, read that book you’ve been putting off. What can you add to this list?
- Breathe: Unlock your jaw. Relax your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Ease the tension in your forehead and shoulders, and take in a deep, deep breath. Repeat!
- Lastly, remember your strength.We can and will get through this together!
Dona Constantino-Nathan, MCC
Clinical Therapist & Assessment Consultation
Toronto Psychological Services & Research Centre
Address: 4920 Dundas Street West, Suite 205, Etobicoke, ON M9A 1B7, Canada
Work Telephone: 416-531-0727