A Moment in History; Responding to Coronavirus
Updated: Jul 30
Without a doubt, we are living through an unprecedented global situation – at least in our lifetime. The rapid spread of Coronavirus has impacted everything, the stock market has been shifting unpredictably, businesses are closing to protect our community, resources are being panic purchased by people fueled by misinformation and in the midst of it all, lest we forget we have an election this year. People are experiencing anxiety and other behavioral health symptoms about the uncertainty in this situation, fear about the reactions (or lack thereof) of other people and a burgeoning depression epidemic that comes with the loss of things we used to take for granted.
Many of us have never experienced anything like this in our lives and we are not sure how to respond. We overconsume media in an attempt to feel some sort of control over the situation by educating ourselves and yet that only breeds more fear, panic and uncertainty.
So, what are we to do during these trying times? How do we preserve our mental and physical health when faced with all of these experiences? We start by coming back to the present. First, take a deep breath, turn off the TV, put down the phone and CHOOSE to disengage from the ongoing coverage as it cannot give you the control that you are seeking. I know this moment may not be the one you hoped for, but it is the one we are in together. So, take a moment and get centered; take 5 deep breaths in through your nose, hold at the top with your lungs completely full and then breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe in, focus on a word that you hope to embody. This can be anything that is meaningful to you: peace, health, calm, relax, etc. Breathe in and feel this word flow through your body, breathe out the toxicity of fear. Taking slow, deep breaths, continue to focus on embodying this word and let go of everything else. Do this multiple times a day to stay grounded in the present moment. When you find yourself being overwhelmed, come back to this exercise at any time.
This moment in time is simply one moment, one experience, in the whole of your life. Let’s remember all of the good that is also happening in the world and bring our feelings back into the reality of what is actually happening. Let’s do a reality check; right now, we are CHOOSING to limit our outside activities so that we can protect ourselves and each other from a virus that has an incredibly high cure rate for the majority of the population. This is an incredible choice that we are making to do what is best for the most people and when we reframe the situation to being within our control and a decision we are making, we realize that this is actually a beautiful moment in history. We are facing a health crisis with a relatively low mortality rate and we are responding as a community! Businesses are choosing to put PEOPLE over PROFIT by closing their doors or limiting their services. What an amazing sacrifice aimed at protecting our population’s most vulnerable.
Yes, our stores have run low on products as people have engaged in panic-induced purchasing BUT deliveries are still coming. Stock is being replenished as quickly as the employees can get items on the shelves. In this country, we live in the land of excess and we are not used to not having any food item we want at our fingertips at any given moment. That “normal” is a luxury in many parts of the world that live in food scarce environments on a daily basis. We do not have a food shortage; we have been convinced to buy in bulk as a precautionary measure and engaged in this panic purchasing as another attempt to exert control over the uncertainty we are facing. Focus on what you actually need for your family and know that we can also do without a lot of luxuries we are used to having.
If anything, the hope is that this experience will truly bring into focus the everyday beauty and luxury of our lives that we have taken for granted. Our culture is often deficit in gratitude as we focus on the next thing to accomplish, the newest item that we want and we have been wrapped in excess for so long we have lost perspective of what is truly a need versus merely a want. In this time, focus on the things that you have often taken for granted; your physical health, your mental health and well-being, your freedom, your choices, your home, your family, your needs being met for shelter, food, water and protection against the elements, your community and the bonding of shared experience across humanity. We are all in this together and if you look for it, you can see that as a community we are rising to this challenge and we will overcome this uncertain time with compassion, grace and gratitude.
Hang in there everyone! Thank you from your Denver Counselors and Psychiatrists at The Collective!
About the Author
Kimberly Garrison, PsyD, is the Clinical Director of The Collective Integrated Behavioral Health located in Denver, CO. The Collective is a multidisciplinary behavioral health practice that provides holistic therapy and psychiatry services to adults and young professionals. Dr. Garrison is a Licensed Psychologist in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Health and is certified in Nutritional Psychology. Contact Dr. Garrison at Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information go to www.collectivebh.com
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