In Ernest Hemingway’s book ‘The Sun Also Rises’, the character Mike describes how he went bankrupt:
“Gradually, and then suddenly.”
For many of us, it feels like the arrival of COVID-19 in our lives has occurred in much the same way. It’s not that we didn’t see it coming… but now it’s truly here, many of us are feeling confused, scared, alienated, and unsure of what to do next.
Believe us, we’ve found ourselves feeling the same way at times. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have some thoughts about how you can look after yourself and the people around you as we try to navigate through challenging times together.
1. Permission to be ‘negative’…
A lot of the social media chat around COVID so far has been people online telling each other to ‘calm down’ and ‘stop panicking’. This advice – much like ‘cheer up’ and ‘think positive’ – is probably well-intentioned, but ultimately unhelpful. If somebody who is scared could just ‘calm down’ and ‘stop panicking’ they would have done it by now!
The problem comes when we label these kinds of reactions as ‘negative’, rather than normal. What’s happening in the world right now is big stuff – give yourself permission to feel the fear and confusion that might be there. If you have someone you trust and who can listen, express it.
And if you are feeling positive and resourceful, try to make space for others who might not be. We all need to look out for one another.
2. …and be conscious of your impact
We all know that the Coronavirus is contagious, but so are emotions. Just as if we make it unacceptable to express ‘negative’ emotions we make life harder for those around us, constantly giving unfiltered voice to our worst fears will have an impact too. Try to be conscious of how you affect others as you navigate through your own concerns.
3. Create boundaries
All of this is easier said than done. With 24-hour news, Facebook, Twitter and so on there is an unlimited flow of information and commentary – some accurate some inaccurate; some helpful and some unhelpful. Try to create some space in your life that is free from COVID-related stuff.
Structure in time to do something that is just in service of your recovery and relaxation – meditation, reading, exercise, gardening. Whatever helps take you out of the thinking-machine of the mind.
And try to set boundaries with those around you. If it’s important to talk about the most recent COVID news then do so. But make sure it isn’t the only topic of conversation. If necessary, agree times in the day when it is off the table – over meal-times perhaps, or directly before bed.
4. Control the controllable
The human mind has evolved to be an incredibly efficient problem-solving machine. This is great most of the time, but also risky. There are some problems we just cannot solve by ourselves.
As it unfolds across the world many of us will find ourselves glued to the news feeling helpless. But there is so much that we can do. Much of the advice in this blog has been around how to look after yourself, but what small actions can you take to help people around you? You may not be able to change the global situation, but small acts of kindness will make an enormous difference to people feeling vulnerable and isolated. On that note…
5. Just be kind…
Times of threat and challenge can make people respond in surprising ways. They can bring out the best in us – or the worst. Many anthropologists think that the evolutionary origins of prejudice can be traced back to the times when we lived in tribes – when an outsider might literally be carrying a disease that could wipe out your people.
And it seems that as we adapt to the presence of a new disease in our midst some of these impulses are emerging. Racism towards people from East Asia, hoarding of resources, people seizing opportunities to make a fast buck.
We get to choose how we respond. As one of our Global Warriors Lola Fayemi has said: “the children are watching us and sensing how to respond”.
Let’s choose to be more like Asiyah and Jawad Javed. Asiyah and Jawad are the owners of Day-Today Express in Stenhousemuir, Scotland and spent £2,000 providing free face masks, hand sanitiser and wipes to over-65s. Imagine the impact this might make on someone feeling worried, or short on money.
Or how about Becky Wass from Falmouth, England, who has designed and shared on social media a print-at-home postcard to help people look after neighbours who are self-isolating.
Or perhaps if the lockdown comes we can take our lead from the many videos that have been shared on social media this weekend of Italian citizens singing and dancing on their balconies. People choosing during a crisis to come together, rather than to splinter.
— Mariana Solis (@claygabrielle1) March 16, 2020
Sometimes we just get to talk about warriorship, and sometimes circumstances suddenly demand it of us. Here at Global Warriors we want to support you and be of service. Get in touch if there is anything you need from us. If we can help we will.
Love and courage.