How I Am Handling my COVID Anxiety
Like most of you, my "regular" life became obsolete without warning a few weeks ago. In a span of a weekend, I no longer could see my family and friends in person, take my son to daycare, go to my favourite sushi restaurant, plan camping trips, look forward to my cousin's wedding, or go to a store fully confident that they will have toilet paper.
At Pacific Ropes, we showed up to work on Monday, March 16th, as if it was just another Monday of a training course. By the end of the day, we decided to cancel all our March courses. Then, just as quickly as we closed our doors to training, everything that was "normal" in our lives quickly disappeared and now we are all left at home wondering what our future holds and when will this end?
The frustrating part is that no one can tell us for sure how this will pan out. Google COVID-19 and you'll get a wide range of contradicting predictions. Tune into the news and we are left feeling hopeless and scared. The more we try to find answers and to make sense of our situation, the more we are left feeling like we have no control of our lives anymore. So, how am I handling this anxiety?
By reminding myself everyday that I can still choose. I can choose to be fearful or I can choose to be brave. I can choose to be hopeless in humanity or I can choose to have hope that we can band together to survive and thrive this pandemic. Reminding me that I can still choose and control how I respond to my surroundings is what helps me get through each day in a world where so many things are now out of my control.
I read an article here by Dr. Eugene K. Choi, who talks about how our fight-flight-freeze instinct produces more of a steroid called cortisol (to manage stress) in our bodies. Cortisol, unfortunately, weakens our immune system. In addition to weakening our immune system, maintaining our fight-flight-freeze mode corners us into a selfish, protective state. We lose the ability to think of the bigger picture, to think of other people besides ourselves, to think of our community, to be empathetic to those that need it.
Like Dr. Choi says in his article, our thoughts produces our feelings. And, we have more control over our thoughts than we think. So, by taking a step back to analyze what thoughts are bringing me fear, gives me the control to shove those thoughts aside and replace them with ones that don't bring upon fear.
I am not saying we should be naive. Of course we need to stay up to date with the current conditions of this pandemic. But, do I really need to go down that rabbit hole each time I open up my browser? As a happy compromise, I've decided to subscribe to one newsletter, which gives me my daily updates about COVID-19 but I won't bookmark the web page with the counter that tells me how many have died each day.
I've always like this quote, (paraphrased by Leon C. Megginson in regards to Charles Darwin's theories):
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."
I like to think that by choosing to be brave instead of afraid, I give myself the best chance in making the best decisions for myself, my family, and for Pacific Ropes. Because whether we like to admit or not, our environment is changing. Our world may end up looking very different. Or, it may go back to normal. Or, it may lie somewhere in between those polarities. Either way, by finding ways to hold my fear at bay, I make room in my brain for empathy, creativity, and problem solving. And hopefully, in this much calmer state, I can help myself and those around me adapt, survive, and thrive.
Throughout this time, our team will be sharing different ways they are keeping morale up. Stay up to date on our COVID-19 updates by filling in the form below!