The COVID-19 crisis places us in unchartered territory of both global and personal uncertainty. As a yoga teacher and therapist with experience in trauma debriefing and healing, I wish to share some ideas to help us better cope and heal as we find ourselves living in this profoundly challenging time.
In order to cope with the enormity and weight of this pandemic and global uncertainty combined with all of our intense feelings we need to take the best possible care of our selves and our loved ones. Practising self-care, self-compassion, and compassion to others is essential at this time.
We are all bathed in emotional distress as the world as we knew it seems to have changed. While adjusting to this loss of normalcy and striving to adapt to the new normal, we may face a range of emotions including denial, anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, grief, and stress, as well as a myriad of thoughts and physical sensations. It is perfectly normal to feel any and all of these raw emotions. There are times when it might be best for an individual to consciously choose to compartmentalize and contain the feelings so as to not feel everything so deeply and become overwhelmed.
As we nurture a gentle acceptance of whatever is arising for us and whatever we need to do at any given moment in time, we also need to find ways to soothe ourselves and our pain and loss with tenderness.
We can begin by creating and holding space to acknowledge the loss of normalcy, safety, and connection. We need to find a quiet time and place to do this and it could be when practicing yoga or while being creative. When we are quiet and focused, we can begin to acknowledge and name what we are experiencing and feel the full range of feelings. Acknowledging our feelings allows them to move through us, which is important as emotions need motion. Yoga also teaches us how to access our source of inner stability and to feel grounded. This is key when our emotions are up and down like a roller coaster and the rest of the world is off kilter.
Sharing feelings and seeking emotional support from family and friends is a form of self-care and can be very helpful. Working with a yoga therapist to address physical, mental, and emotional needs is another way of taking care of oneself. Yoga therapy works with the whole person and applies a customized sequence of asanas or postures, breathwork, counseling, and mindfulness meditation to achieve a particular spiritual, psychological or physical goal. It can help transform all kinds of suffering and help manage or decrease stress or anxiety, improve mood, change unhealthy behaviors, and much more.
As we embrace this new normal we also have to allow ourselves to have a mental shift: there is no need to apply any pressure to our selves or be judgmental; to prove or obsess about anything; to scramble to be productive; or to plunge into a frenzy of activity. Even if some of our normal daily rhythms and actions have remained consistent, we have been changed and our lives will likely not resume as if this had never happened. It is important to honour your feelings and to give yourself permission to act on your deepest needs which means being completely authentic and present in the moment.
In this time of darkness, we need to find the light and meaning. As we ride on this roller coaster, we feel how our sense of normality and the world has been turned upside down. Committing to self-care and compassion, acknowledging the losses, experiencing the range of feelings and releasing them, being authentic, and engaging in yoga, mindfulness, and creativity can greatly help us adapt, manage our emotional responses and cope with the stressors. As we redirect ourselves to the present moment and remain there, we may discover that we find a sense of calm. The present is truly all we ever have.