How to feel calm, connected and hopeful during the pandemic

Posted

COVID-19 has brought most of us some level of anxiety and stress, and that’s because anxiety is a byproduct of uncertainty. In addition to the pandemic, four other crises and uncertainties – the economy, politics, race and climate change – are happening simultaneously.

I have been conducting corporate webinars around the country almost daily on coping in uncertain times, stress management, resilience, overcoming burnout and workplace performance. In all these industry sectors, I have found that the common denominator is the human need to feel safe, connected and hopeful.

Having said that, here are five ways to protect and enhance our health and wellness during this difficult time:

Routines and boundaries

Our brains are wired to be “planners”; being organized, having schedules and routines, cleaning out clutter, will help you to feel in control and can bring a sense of calm and safety.

Listen

Communication is the key to keeping us connected during the pandemic. The secret sauce here is to listen from another person’s point of view, setting aside your own biases/filters. When you do this “empathic listening,” you hear things very differently – even if you do not agree, it allows you to connect with the other person and to engage in possibility thinking.

Also consider a pandemic project of recording your elders’ stories and then transcribing them to create a family legacy.

Self-care

Most of us know that exercise, good nutrition and sleep are essential to keeping our brains and bodies alert and vital. In addition, I would add prayer, meditation, breathwork, laughter and visualization.

Exercising releases serotonin in the brain, creating a natural high. Eating fresh foods, eliminating processed foods, and reducing caffeine, alcohol and sugar can also make a big difference in how you feel.

Sleep is an often-underrated factor in health. Check out your sleep environment for mattress comfort, temperature, light, noise and breathing comfort.

Speaking of breathing, deep breaths help the parasympathetic nervous system, calming us in a crisis.

In her article in the Jewish Journal, “A Jew’s Duty: Healing Oneself and Others,” Rabbi Nancy E. Epstein writes, “According to the historical Jewish tradition, our bodies (and everything else) belong to God. They are on loan to us during our lifetimes. Upon our deaths, they return to God. During our lifetimes, we have an obligation, a religious duty, to live lives of holiness and maintain our health as a way of taking good care of God’s property. Taking good care of our bodies is central to Judaism.

“Maimonides, the great medieval physician, rabbi and philosopher, outlined obligations we would classify as health-preservation strategies: A proper diet, getting sufficient exercise and sleep, maintaining good hygiene and having a healthy mind.”

Limit your news consumption

 Get the facts and leave the rest. There is endless spin on what we hear or read about in the news, and the repetition alone can cause anxiety.

Have hope

We now have vaccines and are at the beginning of the end of the pandemic. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel – and that should bring us hope that this too shall pass.

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence. She is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award.