“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” ~John Allen Paulos

By Haneen Ahmad

Much like the rest of the country, if you are here in Washington, you know we are dealing with a situation that feels filled with chaos. With 6-week school closures, the majority of employers asking their employees to work remotely, and small business owners experiencing some of the heaviest negative impacts, it’s hard to feel stable.  There’s a lot of us out here that are finding it difficult to navigate the COVID-19 reality we are facing.

When I tune into the news, when I scroll my feeds, turn on the tv, I see panic and negativity building. I look closer and I find comfort in seeing neighbors support each other, business owners who can afford to do so supporting other business owners, community members stepping up and offering child care. Individuals cooking meals for those who are immunocompromised and not leaving their homes. That, that is what gives me hope during this time of uncertainty. 

It is so important to take good care of yourself now, more than ever. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on the immune system, which is the last thing you need right now right? Here are several steps to consider for inviting calm and comfort into your life during this time.

Mind your inner voice 

Observe and understand your beliefs and worries regarding the current situation. As well as what reasons may be driving those worries. You may be surprised as to what is actually in your control. Be mindful you don’t carry other people’s beliefs or worries into your day. Become aware and conscious of how you talk yourself in your own mind. Pay attention to your inner dialogue and how it makes you feel. Find a way to release your worries. Journal, meditate, talk to a loved one or therapist.


Set boundaries and protect yourself  

Identify what is, and isn’t good for you during this time. Take breaks from watching the news and scrolling social media. Invite the right people into your life who reflect your values, and will respect your boundaries. Engage in social distancing as necessary and know you can still connect with people you love and trust through technology. Above all wash your hands and keep your home and work area clean and don’t be afraid to ask others to wash their hands upon entering your home. 

Whole-brain approach

We are always in a better state when we are utilizing both sides of our brains as much as possible. This invites feelings of wholeness and balance into our life. And feeling balanced is a key component to coping. Incorporate creativity into your self-care practice. Whether its art, canning, sewing, gardening, knitting, writing, make sure you are engaging in activities where you use your hands and heart. If you are local to Sammamish or Issaquah, WA, my favorite place for connecting to artists who offer creative experiences is the Workshop.

Meditation  

If you are like the majority of us, you are experiencing some level of worry about the state of current events and need to refocus and reframe. Meditation will help calm the brain, bring inner peace, and uplift and energize you. I love the free app Insight Timer for its guided meditations for relaxation and comfort or Maria Mcdonald’s meditations

Focus on what you can control 

So much of what is going on is out of our hands. What is in your hands is how you react and plan. Try to plan and prepare for various scenarios but stick to basics. Try to maintain some sort of routine especially if you are at home with kids. Stock up on some basic items, but also know that you can lean on community for support should you need it.  This will help you feel in control and foster feelings of positivity.

Gratitude

Take the time each day to highlight what you are thankful for. Acknowledging things, big or small, that you are grateful for will positively impact your mindset. If you are not living along do this with your family. If you are living alone share your gratitude list with a friend or loved one. Grateful for the ability to work from home? A full pantry? Supportive community? Good health? If you aren’t journaling already, this would be a good way to start! Research on practicing gratitude shows positive impacts on the brain, lower rates of stress, and a stronger sense of resiliency.

We need to slow down if we are going to charge ahead of this thing. Slow down and take the time to care for yourselves and family. The best thing you can do right now is to invest in and model good self-care. Nourish yourself with healthy activities; nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, healthy social interactions, and relaxation. What’s ahead might not be easy but with intention and mindfulness, you can handle it. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am dreaming about summer and it couldn’t come soon enough.

Reflect, appreciate,  celebrate the good,

Haneen Ahmad, MSW, LICSW