How to Survive a Pandemic

So here we are, in a pandemic? Like, is this shit real, or am I watching an outbreak movie? Its clear that current events have created some uncertainty, and with that comes FEAR. The world is shifting, and we are being pushed out of our comfort zone. Personally, I feel as though I am witnessing a complete re-write of reality as we know it. We know that with a re-write, things have to fall apart, and that breakdown is happening all around us: A viral outbreak, social distancing, empty grocery stores, quarantines, an economic meltdown, irrational, fear-based decision making, media overload, conspiracy theories etc. We can’t ignore what is going on, but how we choose to perceive, define, and respond to these events will make all the difference in whether, or not we “survive,” or “thrive” in this pandemic, and the aftermath that is sure to follow. In true JEYLA fashion, I want to offer perspective to reflect on as we sit in our literal time-out. To all my peoples social distancing please stand up! Or sit down, you’re at home anyway.

DISSOLVE THE FEAR: Creating certainty within

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present, and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, DANGER is very real, but fear is a choice.”

Will Smith, After Earth

Although the quote sums it up, simply put, fear is a projection based on unknown, or circumstantial assumptions. The best way to dissolve fear is to get present, and release the associated reaction to your thoughts. There are plenty of ways to get present, but when I want to dissolve something, I make a conscious effort to pay attention to my thoughts, and I disable them through breath/awareness/restructuring. I know that when I feel worry, doubt, fear that its a reaction, and that I have complete control over how I choose to respond. The story you choose to perpetuate in these moments is what matters.

WHAT KIND OF STORY ARE YOU CREATING?

Our imaginations are POWERFUL. We’ve known this since we were kids. The visions we play out, good or bad, tend to feel very real. The scenes are real, the emotions they trigger are real, and the scenes often play out. So create an empowering, and compelling story. Its there. 

The story I am telling myself is that regardless of what is going on “out there,” I am completely stable, surrounded by healthy people, everything is going to work out, I am going to focus on things that matter, and am alert, not stressed. I am supported by friends / family. I am steady in my approach to what is happening. I have the space for compassion/love for those that might be struggling, and am part of the solution. I can see the opportunities, and enjoy the process of seeing them. I am completely present, and using each moment to decide how I am going to feel, what I am going to do, and what I am going to focus on. I am safe, healthy, and my world is completely harmonious. I am able to remain open, lighthearted, happy through it all, and trust that everything is working out for me in the best case scenario. NO MATTER WHAT. Some of you may be reading this like what drugs is she on, can she see what’s happening?  I assure you that I am quite aware of what I see, but I know I am secure regardless, and with my mindset right, I will experience it differently than someone who is feeding the fear / insecurity. My position has everything to do with what I choose to focus on. Nothing more, nothing less.

A SIMPLE EXERCISE:

Stop for a second, and ask yourself what you are afraid of? I am sure your brain will give you a few reasons. Once you’ve let your thoughts run amuck for a minute, or two, or ten, stop again. OR, if you need to ugly cry for a minute, get angry because this isn’t how you wanted things to be, do it! LET IT OUT, AND LET IT GO! Acknowledge those thoughts, see them. Then close your eyes, take a very deep breath in, and exhale. Do it again, and again, and again until you feel the thoughts fade, and you feel a sense of calm. Now open your eyes, look around the room, take notice of your surroundings. What do you see? What are you we wearing? Are you safe? The answer, for most of you, is “yes, I am safe.” Once you get to this place, start to focus on what you do have in this moment. I still have a home, I have hot water, there is food in my fridge, my family is safe, I still have a job, I am supported, I am taking care of myself/my family, I have Netflix, and snacks. Even if the situation gets worse, you WILL make it through, and if you continue to focus on what is REAL, right now, you will keep your sanity, and perhaps come out better than you started!

WHY IS MANAGING FEAR IMPORTANT?

When our minds are filled with uncertainty, we breed more uncertainty, and lets face it. That is crap. That fear also impedes us from seeing what is possible, to be open to the silver lining, to clear space for innovation, to see solutions, and to recognize/act on opportunities. Not to mention, fear based activity generally creates irrational behaviour, and logic seems to fly out the window. Reaction mode vs. responding appropriately. Officially calling out the toilet paper hoarders of the world. When we feel stable, not only do we show up as leaders, but we do what we need to take care of ourselves, and find love, and compassion for others. This is the kind of world I want to live in.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

When shit hits the fan, the one thing you will always have complete control of is your mind, and how it responds / chooses to see things. So who are you choosing to be right now? What story are you creating? Are you taking care of yourself, your family? Can you see the solutions, the opportunity, the possibilities? If not, focus on releasing fear, doubt, worry, anger etc. so you can make space to get clear on how you are going to come out of this mess.

I don’t suggest you ignore what is happening, but I would proceed with caution, and limit your continued visibility to absolutely everything. Stay informed, prepare, and stay alert. It is important you prioritize your health/safety needs for yourself, and those closest to you, but also spend energy maintaining some normalcy so you aren’t consumed with the dread of the world. It doesn’t have to feel like the end of days.

HOW YOU GONNA PASS THE TIME?

Time is your most precious commodity, and for those of you that asked for a hard reset in 2020 …..CONGRATS, it has arrived….in the form of complete isolation, and an economic meltdown WAHOO! Too soon? The security blanket has been pulled off, and we might be feeling a bit exposed, but there in lies the truth of what we had heavy reliance on, what we turned a blind eye to, and that we have a real opportunity to reinvent ourselves, and really connect. Think about it, when was the last time you had this much space! If you get past the stress, you can really make the most of it.

TOP 10 THINGS DO TO DURING SELF ISOLATION

  1. EAT SNACKS. (just checking if you are still with me) SIMPLIFY: declutter closets, clean, shut down meaningless subscriptions to those apps you don’t use, turn off social media for a minute, finish your emails, eat less…..you are sitting at home (cuz you are,) get into those things you’ve been putting off because you didn’t have enough “time.”
  2. CONNECT. Just because we might be confined to our space, doesn’t mean we can’t connect! Check in with people, have conversations about other things, skype. A few friends and I are having a virtual happy hour at 5 PM. If you have people isolated with you, play boardgames, watch funny movies, cook together, become Tik Tok famous lol. Also, take this time to connect to you! Its rare you have this much silence to just focus on your needs. Take advantage of it.
  3. START THAT BUSINESS / PASSION PROJECT YOU’VE BEEN NEGLECTING. We don’t know what the world is gonna look like tomorrow, but we do have a little more time on our hands. Use your time to focus on what you want to create in your life. This can be the greatest moment of your life, even though things aren’t idea. In the last recession, I was laid off, found a job that paid me 2x more, and bought my first property. If you were looking for a sign to get going on your dreams, THIS IS IT!
  4. FOCUS ON YOUR HEALTH. Your health is equally as important as your mindset. Yes, the gyms/classes are temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego your movement/focus. There are plenty of online fitness platforms (like Beachbody On Demand) that can keep you on track, and there’s no commute. No commute, no excuses! Also, its time to get creative with your food intake, things might be a little different in the grocery stores going forward, so adapting early by cooking hearty, freezable meals might be a great way to ensure you stay healthy!
  5. SELF DEVELOP. Ask yourself how you felt about your life before this all went down. Were you satisfied? Fulfilled? Happy? If not, now might be the time to start seeking out the answers, grow, work on your mindset, and make a shift. There are plenty of YouTube videos, courses, and books to pick up.
  6. KEEP IT LIGHT. We don’t have to be in a catastrophe bubble all day. Do things that make you happy! Laugh, play, enjoy Netflix, dance around the house, be a little light hearted about what is going on!
  7. NEW HOBBIES? Maybe you wanna write, paint, dance, sing, knit, become a physicist. Pick up something you’ve always wanted to do, and do it!
  8. EAT SNACKS. Pretty self explanatory. This may be a luxury at this point….but its a notable list item.
  9. LEARN FROM OTHERS. As I have mentioned about 12 times in my post, find the opportunities. Learn from the people / leaders who made the most of out economic downturns, and came out swinging. 
  10. NAAAAP. Maybe you are feeling burnt out, or stressed right now. Listen to your body, and get some sleep. Best paired with a movie, cup of tea / glass of wine, and a cuddle buddy if you have one.
  11. BONUS. Turn off the news for a bit, turn off social media, turn off the constant churn of updates. You are at home, give yourself permission to just BE without all the noise. 

SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY

We are isolated, but there are things we can do to support one another as the story continues to unfold.

Take care you, and your loved ones, but keep in mind that there are people who don’t have others to take care of them. See if there are ways in your community you can serve. i.e.: dropping off groceries to seniors, if you have excess funds, donate to non-for-profit organizations that support our high needs communities.

Reach out to people to see how they are doing, check in! I just mentioned to a friend that I have been on my phone having more FaceTime / voice time than I have in months. It takes no time to let someone know you are on their mind. Remember to talk about other things!!

When you are shopping, be conscientious of your consumption. As a society, we are hard wired to OVER CONSUME, and while its nice, its a luxury. While I do understand that being prepared is a thing, everyone has to eat. Simplify how much you consume, and think of ways to preserve what you do buy. i.e.: hearty meals you can freeze etc.

Support small businesses where you can. This type of event can make, or break businesses. Where you can, try to utilize services that make sense for you.

THE SILVER LINING

Things might seem nutty right now, but this is the first time, in a long time that have a chance to get clear on what matters. Now, more than ever, we need to find community, connect with our loved ones, find compassion/strength, focus on self care, and mindset practises. Find some comfort in the simple things, and bring focus to what you want to see. Use your time wisely.

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