Our current global crisis has catalyzed numerous reactions, from individuals like you and me shuttered away in our homes, to large multinational organizations working to respond in time.
Amidst all the advocacy, commentary, and reporting (and much of this is important), it would be nearly impossible to resist overwhelm.
As we consider the various layers of challenges we face, each one can be incredibly daunting on its own:
1) The risk of serious illness.
Forget the projections and the percentage likelihoods for a moment. The mere fact that any of us (or our loved ones) can catch the highly contagious COVID-19 is incredibly stressful. While some are at even higher risk than others, the fact is that we all need to take this seriously. Little is known about the virus at the moment, and for some it has proven mortally dangerous.
2) The unfolding economic and political crisis.
Not only do we all face a serious health risk, but we’re also in an unprecedented moment on a global scale. Markets have tumbled, jobs have been lost, and it seems that we’ve only just begun to fathom the long-term impacts of the pandemic and our response to it. In some sense, it feels as though there is a global triage happening: shutting down for many months to flatten the curve while risking severe economic disruption, or returning to business-as-usual before we have the capacity to treat the number of patients we expect to have. While most of us are not personally responsible for making these large-scale decisions, they have massive implications for each of us.
3) Social distancing and isolation.
Numerous policies with the intention of slowing the spread have left most of us at home. Some of us are with family or housemates; others are alone. Regardless of how introverted we are, the natural rhythms most of us have probably involved some level of interacting with other people. This change can lead to intense loneliness, doubt, and anxiousness. We were not made to live this way, and there’s increasing possibility that we will for a while.
These are incredibly challenging all on their own, but we face them all together. So how in the world are we going to get through this?
My one recommendation
There are many lists out there for all the things we can do with our newfound time at home (but remember— many of us are still expected to work productively full time, sometimes taking care of children to boot). I’m not here to add to that list, though I think activities like reading, playing games, or creative projects are truly valuable.
My recommendation is simply to take this season one breath at a time.
Breathing deeply with our eyes closed can calm us down. It tells our bodies that things are okay, and our bodies in turn tell our brains.
I’ll be pausing throughout the day to take 3 deep breaths. Because if I look too far ahead, I will start to question whether our society will really make it. But a few deep breaths— that can be done.
Let’s breathe through the next day, week, and month to come. One breath at a time is how we’re going to make it.