Coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. This is a time of high stress for everyone. Let alone, for those of us who have a diagnosis of conditions such as anxiety or depression. There’s been a lot of talk about how to manage your mental health at this time. But I’ve yet to see anyone talk about how to reframe coronavirus.
For me this time of uncertainty comes with a myriad of questions. First of all there’s concerns about health. How will my elderly family members or friends with pre-existing conditions cope? Will there be an adequate medical service if we get ill? Then there’s questions about socializing. We know social connection can be integral to managing ones mental health. I’m wondering when I will be able to leave the house again? When will I seem my friends or family face-to-face?
There’s also questions about money and the economy. Will I be able to keep my job? What will happen to the company I work for? Are products going to continue to be available – I currently can’t find any necessities, will that change? And then there’s the big questions, what will the world look like after coronavirus? What is the government doing? Do they know what they’re doing? Will there be a vaccine any time soon?
With each question I feel my stress levels rise. For the past few days I’ve been trying to ignore them. As soon as these thoughts pop in to my head I’ve tried to shut them down and distract myself. This has only got me so far. Even writing this post I can feel my anxiety rise. But I know I need to get those thoughts out there. It’s the first step in reframing and letting go.
Letting Go of Coronavirus Anxiety
Hopefully reading this post is making you feel less alone, rather than spiking your own anxiety. But if it is, I hope that this next part will be helpful to you. Letting go conjures images of a certain song, but that’s not the one that’s been on my mind recently. I’ve been thinking about lyrics from a song called This Isn’t Giving Up by a band called Rise Against. They go as follows:
This isn’t giving up, no this is letting go– This Isn’t Giving Up, Rise Against
In order to move forward and survive what looks like the next few months, if not longer, I’ve got to be able to let go of these thoughts and feelings. Whilst I doubt I’ll be able to completely de-stress or make this situation better. I need to acknowledge the feelings, the questions, the fears and let them go.
Reframing: We Are Lucky
One thing that has occurred to me recently is this. We are lucky. Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. Even though we are in unchartered territory and facing times we’ve never seen before. With everything up in the air and the world a scary place. We are incalculably lucky.
We are lucky to live in the 21st century where we have unprecedented technology to keep us connected to each other. New technology allows us to live virtually in each others houses. We’re able, for many of us, to work from home and have meetings via platforms like GoogleHangout and Zoom to name but two.
For many of us, we are lucky to live in first world countries with some access to healthcare. Whilst we are rightly concerned of what level of healthcare we will get. We are lucky that there is something. It’s a whole lot better than nothing that people in some countries are facing during this global pandemic.
We are lucky that the four walls many of us will be confined to in the next few months are safe and secure. We are lucky to have the facilities that we need to look after each other. Many of us have privilege that we don’t even consider because we’ve never had it taken away from us. We take it for granted. In the words of Tim Minchin in his graduation address to UWA:
Remember it’s all luck. You are lucky to be here. You are incalculably lucky to be born– Tim Minchin
Reframing Our Thoughts
With all the thoughts and feelings I’ve been having, I’ve not had the time or the mental capacity to realise one fundamental thing. I finally have time. Time to do de-clutter, both my home and my life. Time to try out that new hobby or resurrect an old one. There is finally time to catch up on the TV shows I never thought I’d watch, the movies I missed and the books that gather dust on my bookshelf.
The world is a scary place right now. There’s no getting around that. Self-care won’t make coronavirus go away. It won’t change the world we are living in. But it can change the way we live in this world. Self-care can help us re-frame and open our minds to the possibilities around us.
One of the biggest obstacles to self-care (read more here and here) is that we never have time. For those of us lucky to be healthy enough to not be severely impacted by the virus, or those of us keeping safe at home. There is finally time. Something we don’t often feel like we have. With everything else so uncertain in our lives, the one thing we can be sure of is ourselves. So, it’s time to invest in that one certainty.
I can’t change the medical situation, the political situation, the economic situation. I wish I could. And more than anything feeling out of control is perhaps what scares me the most. The one thing I can do is invest in me. I’ve bought some art supplies and have started getting busy with my hands. Repetitive artistic motion is soothing to me. I’ve started crocheting again and I’ve bought brand new calligraphy pens to help get me back in the habit.
Last night I actually picked up a book and read it before bed. And it was a good book. I had to force myself to put it down. And the best part, I forgot about my worries for a while. Books are some of the best form of escapism I know. This morning I’m writing this blog whilst listening to music in the background. I’m letting my thoughts out, I’m trying to connect with the world around me and the more I type the more certain I am. Re-framing this time, as time for myself, is the way I can make things better. If it helps you too, that’s just an added bonus.
What are your thoughts at this time? Does sharing them help? How are you using this time? Can you re-frame or let go? I’d love to hear in the comments below!