Friday 20th March 2020
Let’s not pretend. The COVID-19 situation is serious and uncertain. Very few of us have encountered such an event before. It is frightening to hear about people raiding supermarkets and fighting over supplies. It is alarming to observe people wearing face-masks in shopping centres and to be bombarded with headlines about rising infection counts. But that is the reality.
During this time, it becomes important to preserve a healthy frame of mind —both for yourself and for those around you. Excessive anxiety contributes to rash decisions and ineffective or harmful actions.
Follow the principles below to help you remain calm and preserve good feelings about yourself while under duress.
1. Shift your mind away from outcomes—including hypothetical “worst-case” scenarios—and focus instead on how you are meeting adversity. What do you want to stand for during this time? How would you like to explain your actions to children and grandchildren in 10 years? Concentrate intensely on your own thoughts, words and actions. If it is true, say it. If it is right, do it. That’s it.
“Look well into thyself, there is a source of strength that will always spring up if thou wilt always look”.
- Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
2. Think about how you can serve others. Try to redeploy resources towards assisting those around you. Ask them what they need, demonstrate compassion and interest in their journey. Get your hands and feet moving and in doing so—become practically useful to others. Also think about the broader community by adhering to the best advice about social distancing during this time.
3. Do not waste time thinking about what other people may or may not be doing. If people want to hoard, fight or be rude to one another, that’s their problem. Don’t make it yours. If we act dishonourably then we’ve already lost.
4. Associate with people who are moderate in their views and optimistic in their outlook. Think carefully about whom you want to spend more and less time with at the moment. Reflect on how you feel in their company.
5. Build a routine. Establish a few pillars of set activity during your day. For example, perhaps you commit to writing a journal for 15 minutes each morning, doing a yoga routine at the same time etc. It doesn’t matter. Structure will help keep you grounded.
6. If you lose a peaceful mind, make re-obtaining it your priority. Everything starts with the mind. Use all appropriate means available to you to re-establish a balanced outlook. This is truly so important. If you find yourself responding with “I don’t have time” — then you are the intended audience of this point.
7. Accept what has happened, and commit to using it for your own development. A fire grows bigger with every object thrown into it. Thus, you can use the current adversity to draw renewed inner strength and understanding.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labour does the body”.
- Seneca, Stoic Roman Philosopher
Above all be kind, be safe and be good.