Quarantine. What? Me? You expect me to stay home, in a kind of lockdown and lock-in, and I’m claustrophobic… I can’t do that... and by the way, I’m an extrovert, so this just won't do, not on any level. I’ll just go to work, go to my office, hang out there, I’ll keep my distance, promise!
I need to be around others so I don’t have to think or feel too much- that’s what I’ve always done. Now what? I’m used to running from one client to another. I’m used to being just a minute late form the next meeting because I'm so busy. I’m used to having to schedule when I go to the bathroom because there’s so much to do… what to do with all this space? When I’m not racing to... anywhere.
Then the messages from our Governor’s and newscasters -- stay home- stay home -- only go out for essentials. And, if you live alone, ok, you’ll learn to cope with the isolation -- I mean we are a culture of isolationists, aren’t we?
Maybe not, maybe there’s been more social interaction out there then was ever realized, it’s just the way it's been done is different. Not better, not worse, just different. And now, oh wow, the pulses are beating, denial is walking around, do you hear it? This can’t happen to me. I’m young, I’m immune! This virus won’t touch my friends or family. Until it does. Until it's more than 10 degrees of separation. It's at most, 3 degrees, and all of a sudden some people you know don’t feel well, they complain of feeling tired, or having no sense of taste or smell, and then there’s that little nagging fever, that just won’t go away.
And now, denial, as much as you want to partner with it, it just won’t cut it and really can’t have the voice it wants to have. So, what’s a person to do?
Almost sounds funny! And, it would be if we weren’t facing this unknown variety of complex grief. This place, with this unknown virus, that’s invaded our privacy, our thoughts, our peace of mind, our savings, our financial calm and rocked who we thought we were. I mean, a few days off, I can get into that, but a few days off, that turns into a week, or two, or…
I can’t think beyond this, and my heart is racing, not because I’m busy, not because I've got to get to the next patron or make the next batch of coffee, or get to the next meeting, my heart is racing because when denial can’t be my best friend, then anxiety slides in next to me, and says, in an alluring voice,
“Hi there -- I’m gonna make you feel things you may have never felt -- like your heart racing for no reason”.
Like sweat secreting down your back, and it’s not because of a fever. This anxiety is a nasty little bedfellow, and it likes to take your breath away. Yes, it can even make you feel like you are not getting enough air and therefore making it seem like you are not breathing. Well, if you are reading this, you are alive, you are breathing.
Take a deep breath. No, not that little one you just took. I’m serious, a long, deep breath. Ok, thank you. Now let’s talk!
Let’s do a little breath test here.
Take in a breath, as much as you can, and hold it. 10 seconds. Now, release it. If you were able to hold and release, GUESS WHAT? You are breathing. You are alive.
What anxiety and grief will do, is make you feel as if you can’t get enough breath, and then you go into the
“I can’t breathe, panic mode”.
Grief, in light of this virus, can capture the best parts of you. We are not going to let it do that.
If you do this breathing exercise six times a day, you will regulate what feels dysregulated. You are working your brain, telling your brain you do have enough oxygen, not to panic, and though this virus has put rules out there for social engagement, there are things you can control.
Focusing on your breath is certainly one thing you can control
Anxiety and Grief. Yep, grief that emotion we’d rather not feel, or know and an emotion we think only happens when someone we have loved dies. Or an emotion that happens when or if we lose a relationship from divorce or separation. But, did you know….
Grief in all its forms is showing up big time. It’s the Big G’s -- like the loss or sickness of a loved one, or not being able to see a parent who is in assisted living, or having your kids come back from school earlier than expected, and no one is happy because this breaks the ways things are supposed to be.
The rules have changed, and grief is invading our houses. The homes we live in, the house of worship we pray in, are not the safe havens they once were. Behind closed doors, fear feeds the anxiety, and for some, panic sets in. The panic is fed by the narratives and story’s we tell ourselves. And this is where you get to be an interrupter of the storyline. As Dr. Fauci says, stay with the data. Stay with the facts.
Calm these narratives, these stories, by staying with the data. And part of what makes this a pandemic is everyone is affected. Around the world. Financial woes are not a statement of your worth or of your success. Everyone’s portfolio, if you have one, is being seized by the state of this virus closing the doors of many businesses.
This is an opportunity to rethink -- to regather -- to assess -- and to clean house.
Maybe you’ve always wanted the time to create a new business plan, So do it now!
Maybe you’ve wanted to get out of the busy, hectic life you’ve been living, and maybe now is the time.
Maybe you’ve wanted to be more engaged with your kids, or your partner -- now is the time.
Reconnect. Calm your inner critic. You are not alone.
Now is time to enjoy the space not the race! Find your community at home.
Edy Nathan MA, LCSW keynote speaker, workshop leader, and author of It’s Grief: The Dance of Self-Discovery through Trauma an Loss. She has been in private practice for over 20 years. She uses her innate abilities as a specialist in trauma, grief, anxiety, burnout and depression to create a unique approach focusing on the role grief plays in corporate settings, school settings and hospitals.
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