22 Mar Grace under Fear
Coronavirus is a scary illness. But much of the fear resides in fear itself. While we should be concerned, we can also cope with sensible strategies.
Coronavirus. I can’t recall a scarier word in recent times, can you? As a counsellor I’m no stranger to fear. I have worked with victims of crime and drug abuse so I understand real fear – the truly raw kind – firsthand. I have needed to be a support to people in desperately sad situations. I view this as a privilege, to have been able to bear witness and support in times of real need.
However, the current bombardment of Coronavirus across all media platforms – traditional and social – is hurtling us into an unprecedented fear zone. No matter what your personal situation may be, the emotion of fear is very real. And your emotions are valid. Indeed, often our greatest fears are not even for ourselves. We worry about our children or our extended family.
As a mum myself, I feel fear for my own family members, especially where immune systems are compromised, or age is a factor. However, I also know from my work history in these areas, that once we experience the emotion of fear, it’s important to let the feeling wash over us and certainly not allow ourselves to feed it.
According to the World Health Organisation, the world’s leading health experts and scientists are working around the clock to create a vaccine and a cure. So, we need to believe those experts will find a solution, because they will. In the meantime, here are some strategies to help ease your anxiety and also boost your immunity, to help stave off the virus.
Coronavirus – Stay Informed, But Don’t Be Alarmed
Staying informed is good but watching every news show will only lower your emotional wellbeing. Balance is crucial at this time. Stick to traditional news outlets like the ABC, which prides itself on the highest quality of journalism in Australia and reports without bias. Try to avoid buying into what you see shared on Facebook or Instagram around statistics and be mindful of the extreme language used in many media reports.
If they are using overly dramatic phrases like “killer virus” or “shock death toll” they may well be seeking click through simply to improve their bottom line.
Yes, of course the virus can kill people, but we know that this is likely to be the most vulnerable in our society – the elderly and immune compromised. We don’t want that to happen, so for this reason, it is vital stay informed from credible sources, practice universal hygiene precautions and exercise social distancing. If you know someone is elderly or immune compromised and you are healthy, why not offer to their shopping for them, or walk their dog? These people need our support right now and definitely do not need to be left alone.
Conversely, if you feel even remotely sniffly, or heavy in the chest, please stay home and seek medical advice from the Health Direct Hotline. If you have even inadvertently come into contact with someone who has the virus, as is the case with a good friend of mine, please call the hotline too. My friend did and was advised she didn’t need to be tested at this stage, but should self-isolate, as she is doing. On that note, unless you are feeling unwell, please don’t race out to get tested. Our medical community is under great pressure right now and needs to deal with the most urgent cases.
Have Grace Under Pressure
Try to be extra nice to everyone. Kindness is just as contagious as any virus. Thinking of others does have a Domino Effect. This is particularly important if you are dealing with anyone in the service industry. They are also scared and just trying to do their jobs – and in many cases, hold on to their jobs. Practice social distancing while queuing, but still say hello, acknowledge other people and smile! Take extra care of the elderly, as this is a particularly scary time for them.
Make an inventory of what you have in the pantry
There is a tendency to panic buy. Please don’t. You probably have more than you think you do. If your pantry isn’t well organised now is the time to change that. Group sauces, canned goods, herbs and the like into separate sections, so you can clearly see meal opportunities. The great thing about vegan options is that many of these ingredients can be canned goods. This can be a time to be ultra-creative , mixing cuisines and flavours to create yummy vegan options for your family. One of our favourite food coaches, Lee Holmes of Supercharged Food, has a pantry staples guide for a 14 Day Coronavirus quarantine and its one we recommend. While it’s not 100 percent vegan, you can easily substitute any meat options for vegan sources of protein like tofu or plant based ‘meats’.
Don’t go hoarding things, but do ensure you have your medicines and the everyday shopping essentials you require in your home – enough to last you through a 14-day self-isolation. Last minute buying isn’t a good idea, especially as our delivery services come under pressure. Set phone reminders a week or two earlier than usual for the necessities in life.
Keep your immunity high
Protecting your immunity and that of your family members is a really constructive way to combat fear. Feeling well enables you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Plant Fed Mama has a beautiful article on natural ways to boost your immunity. I truly believe vegan cooking has a soulful aspect to it that helps nurture wellness which surely has a knock-on effect to your mental and emotional wellbeing, lowering stress levels and positively impacting immunity. Try to include as many different fruits and vegetables into your mix as you can. Now is a great time to cook up nutritious curries and vegetable bakes. Include vitamin C rich fruits in your daily choices. Wash everything really well. My inclination at this time is to choose vegetable options that I can lightly steam or stir fry. Or if having fruit, peeled options such as oranges, mangos, bananas. Simply to minimise the risk of raw food handling.
Even with social distancing, Australia offers many opportunities to be healthy and happy in the outdoors. A walk on the beach early in the morning before anyone else arises is a great way to get out and about without fearing contact with Coronavirus. We also know that soaking up “Vitamin Sea” does wonders for your health. Likewise, exploring a local bush walking path has both mental and physical health benefits, which again, knock on to your immune health and may help support your body should you be affected by Coronavirus. Surround yourself with your own nature in the form of pot plants in your home. Arrange a delivery of flowers to yourself and even better send a friend flowers or a potted plant.
Also try yoga or meditation in your backyard or apartment balcony – there are some fantastic apps that you can download that will guide you through a beautiful sequence.
Take up a craft
My new passion is crochet! It’s a skill I had learnt from my Mum when I was young. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, crochet , macramé, pottery and patchwork were very much on trend and now these beautiful crafts are having a moment again! Keeping your hands busy while in Coronavirus lockdown is amazing for quelling anxiety and it has the double whammy of making you feel proud that you have created something! Also, this winter many vulnerable people will need extra warmth, so why not make them a blanket? It is good for your mental health and someone else’s physical wellbeing. Check out Lincraft for other craft ideas.
Remember the lonely
Many people live alone. Community always matters and if it shrinks in times like these, we all suffer. We need to feel supported, comforted and loved, so be sure you give out, as you will also get plenty back. Self-isolation during Coronavirus is a time where you need to reach out and plan coffee phone dates, virtual catchups with house bound friends or ZOOM sessions where a group of you can all catch up. You could also take advantage of technology and play games online like Words with Friends.
World energy does begin with you. We can all make a difference by focusing our meditation time on healing our world. Even if you don’t have a formal mediation time, just thinking positively while on your daily walk or time alone will help. We need to believe in this. Humanity has survived through some terrible times in the past – much worse than this – and we will survive Coronavirus too. Let’s bring out our best selves to do this.
Gently Vegan Publisher Catherine Carr