There is another pandemic that is also infecting a global society. It’s the birth child of COVID-19’s and is running riot in everyone’s system.
This pandemic is the stress and fear virus and last week I became infected by same.
Like millions of others, I went into fight or flight mode, flipping out in silent panic as I watched the news, conversed with loved ones about what might come. Calculating empty estimates as to how long this will last and its potential impact.
Each morning I reached for my phone and checked social media for updates on deaths, infections, and the latest country to close its borders. I read the ridiculous warnings over WhatsApp and laughed at the funny images and videos, while inside I was sinking down to an abyss of hopeless terror. Keeping the best side out within the four walls of my home, I smiled and reassured my daughters at our kitchen table, now our make-shift school. Meanwhile that big hopeless cloud grew with every ding of my phone. Another WhatsApp message. The intro to the Six One News. COVID-19 articles filling my news-feed. Each sent images of more dread and devastation flashing through my mind.
Fear and overwhelm had well and truly taken residence in my mind, heart, and every cell in my body, isolating me from hope and anything that made sense.
On Friday lunch time I decided to take a 48-hour break from COVID-19.
For 48 hours I refrained from following the media, knowing it would still be there in two days-time. I explained to loved ones that I was not going to engage in conversation about ‘the C word’. I responded to friends who sent funny COVID-19 messages, explaining my detox and left the room once intro sounds of RTE news bulletins aired on TV.
Because I was infected with fear and was quickly becoming no use to anyone. It was time to realign with my own power and get centred in clarity.
Here’s how it went:
1. The biggest challenge of all was that all everyone wanted to talk about was COVID-19! My detox brought social distancing to a whole new level. However, I continued to assert commitment to my decision and remove myself from conversations and discussions. Thankfully, everyone respected, while some even applauded my choice.
2. Covid-19 was constantly within ear shot: my phone, the TV and radio. I lost count of the amount of times I left a room. Thank goodness for You Tube with uplifting videos and empowering podcasts. I even learned the first 8 steps to Jennifer Beals’ ‘FLASHDANCE’ over Instagram! (believe me that was a challenge all on its own).
1. One of the fundamental teachings of Mindfulness is knowing that we have the power to choose one thought over another. That is what I did. I then extended that choice to action. The TV bellowed stats and the latest updates, just like before. But this time instead of sending my system into lock-down, that sound became the trigger for me to choose differently and leave the room.
There was something so powerful in those moments.
Knowing that in that moment, as I left the room, I was taking back my power. It did not change the stats or reduce the number of cases diagnosed, but neither did going into panic and despair.
2. A lot of my time in COVID-19 detox was spent meditating and reflecting. During which, I was reminded of something quite powerful:
The force of either love or fear can be present in each moment. One or the other is in the driving seat and we determine which one by our power to choose one thought over another.
While meditating and journaling I was choosing love, and in that came clarity.
By Saturday afternoon I was grounded in peace and my enthusiasm for life was steady. My strength was back, and I began to make sense of life again.
My reflections reminded me of how powerful one human being can be, and the effect of that power is determined by our actions. As the stress infection left my system, I remembered what is truly important and what is real.
The coronavirus is so threatening because it can take our lives and the lives of our loved ones. It is a powerful killer.
But let’s take a step back for a moment and remind ourselves that it only has the power that we give it. Social distancing, social isolation, washing our hands and staying at home are small and temporary prices to pay to take the life out of this virus. There is still much uncertainty about COVID-19 but let’s leave that to the experts for now and meanwhile do our part.
Along with the practical action we also need to take care of our mental health. These steps will protect us from both COVID-19 and its birth-child of stress and fear.
COVID-19 is strong, but we are stronger. It is powerful but we are more powerful. My detox has shown me how much resource we have within. We need to align and ground ourselves in that certainty. This enables us to simply choose to stay focused on our own power during this time and allow it to guide us forward. As we connect in a very different way than ever before, together we progress into the dawn that awaits beyond COVID-19.
stay safe & stay well,