I am not a fan of getting stuck in traffic. Specifically, the bumper-to-bumper type that has you inching forward at a rate slower than any sloth I’ve seen on a YouTube video. One time when I was caught in that type of traffic when this car pulled in front of me. Foolish person thought that the lane I was in was moving faster than the one that they came from. When I stopped swearing under my breath, I realized I was experiencing one of those “blessing in disguise” kind of moments. Their licence plate read: Be Calm (but a different spelling). I hope you’ll believe me when I say I was actually calmer for the rest of the hour-longer-than-it-needed-to be trip home. Every time I’d squirm in the seat or try to look for an escape from the long line up of red lights ahead of me I’d come to back to that licence plate. I’d see “be calm” and my mind would go through a series of thoughts like:
- I can’t do anything about the decision I made to leave when I did;
- I can’t make these other cars go any faster;
- I can put on some fun music; and,
- I can think about how fortunate I am to have a car to drive, and a full tank of gas at this very moment.
COVID-19 is our worldwide traffic jam. There is no way of avoiding what is happening or worrying about how long it will last and the subsequent ramifications to life as we once knew it. It should not be ignored. However, giving it more attention than it deserves is messing with our mental and physical health. I do look at social media (more times a day then I care to admit) and I’m noticing a bit of a shift to discussions around the “what ifs” in this situation. People are expressing their concerns. They have every right to, but we have the right not to read or listen to their posts. If we focus on the problem all that we will see is the problem. If we step back, we get more perspective.
Finding calm moments in this storm isn’t that hard. Sometimes it does take some creativity. Easy choices are limiting time on social media, watching the news or having discussions that are COVID-19 focussed. One of my clients was told by her husband that he would only listen to her coronavirus concerns for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. I love this idea.
The other way to find calm is to put yourself in situations that ground you. Meditation is an obvious one but it’s not great if you have a brain that works a mile-a-minute. If this is you, this really is not the time to give meditating a try. There are other things that can work like:
- Put on your favourite music and sing or dance or dance and sing.
- Get outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. If there is a tree near by, put your hand on it and pay attention to what you’re feeling. If you want to go all out, hug the tree. I swear there is nothing more grounding.
- If you’re wearing socks or shoes right now kick them off. Wiggle your toes. Walk on surfaces you don’t normally walk on and feel every sensation you can. Or, put some water in the bathtub and stand in it. Make it really cold if you need a jolt of reality.
- Light a candle and stare at the flame. Watch it dance and flicker. Let yourself get lost in its energy.
All of these ideas put us right in the “now”. There is no other moment than right now. It’s all that we have and it’s a calm place to be.
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