What to Do After COVID-19: Finding Enlightenment After a Pandemic – Part II
I don’t need to ask you how much your life has changed in the past year. COVID-19 hit humanity hard, and the world is not going to be the same as it was. But do we want it to be the way it was?
What you probably miss from the “old world” are things you can still get, only slightly different. As a species, we will get out of this nightmare, but collectively we need to understand that we can’t relive our old mistakes in the new future.
Today, I would like to discuss how we can move on with our lives after COVID-19 and teach you how to find the light within yourself to endure these challenging times.
How Are We Dealing with COVID-19 Now?
In my previous blog, I mentioned how this virus stopped the world and how it affected us. In the beginning, the shock was so big that we couldn’t do anything else but keep going blindly, doing what doctors and the government told us to avoid getting sick.
We were all learning to adapt to our houses again, to a reality where going outside was not safe.
But of course, humans are not made to stay indoors for that much time; we are social beings, we need contact, and COVID-19 took that away from us.
But you see, that which was stolen can be recovered. It is not lost forever; we need to learn to cope with our feelings and understand that everything that happens has meaning, and you are the only one who decides what that meaning is.
Despite having to introduce new routines to our lives (wear a mask, wash your hands more often, keep some distance between friends, family, and coworkers, get food delivered instead of having dinner outside, and so on), we can continue to live in a way that doesn’t change our goals and values.
Perhaps it’s more useful to see it through phases, so let me explain it that way.
This is where we all started, and where we keep coming back now and then.
The fear zone is the first phase we experienced. We reacted with fear of getting sick, and shortly after, we were scared of the global economy collapsing, of not seeing our loved ones, of not going back to what we knew.
How did that reflect in our behavior? We started hoarding food, toilet paper, and medications.
We began to complain because we wanted to be outside even though most of us had everything we needed at home. Some people would spend hours looking through their windows, yelling at passers-by for being outside.
It was a way to express anger and confusion. And that’s more or less when we started fighting our roommates and loved ones at home. Suddenly, that kind of proximity wasn’t appealing, even though deep down, it was the only thing we desired. To be close to someone.
I believe many of us are still in this phase, analyzing what’s going on outside and finding ways to cope with our new reality.
However, it is also the phase where the confusion is quite present. Instead of finding the right coping mechanisms, many people returned to smoking, drinking, and binge-watching.
There’s nothing wrong with spending a weekend watching TV shows, but they tend to numb our feelings because we are not thinking, only watching. We are spectators of something that does not affect us directly.
The learning phase I believe is the most important one because it’s when we realize we are not doing okay. We are feeling overwhelmed continuously, sad, and anxious.
It’s also the phase where we consciously decide to do something about it. And that’s why so many people started doing yoga, reading again instead of binge-watching the same old sitcoms, learning new skills, meditating, knitting, cooking.
See the difference?
At this point, people started to fact check information before sharing. We were all tired of fake news and misinformation, so collectively we did what we had to do: take action.
This is my favorite phase. I love to see people that come to me searching for help and realizing they are in the growth phase.
In this phase, we are fully aware that there’s something we can do about our situation, perhaps tiny things, but helpful nonetheless.
We begin to see the bigger picture. Our world has changed, so we have to change, but that doesn’t mean we have to start from scratch.
We start to feel there’s hope, and our behavior changes dramatically due to that awareness.
We begin to think more about how our actions affect others (at home, in the street, at work, even in the park), which helps us understand what others are going through.
Gratitude becomes, once again, a big part of our lives. One more week without getting sick is something to celebrate and having food on the table and clothes for the winter. Anything that looks silly before now has a different meaning and we appreciate it fully.
Now the numbness that sticks to us in the fear phase is nearly gone. When you choose to be present, you choose peace and power over your wandering mind, which are the only two things you need to keep going.
We slowly move forward towards acceptance. There’s no way we can change the security measures; we can’t erase the virus with our thoughts; we can’t fix the global economy.
But enlightenment allows us to see that we can begin to work on ourselves, so we take one day at a time and appreciate all that life still has for us.
It’s not about hiding our vulnerability; instead, it’s about recognizing it, embracing it, and choosing to react one way or another. You are not a slave of your anger and fear.
This is the phase where we accept the many problems this virus has created, but they do not define us. We have to understand that we never had control over this disease, but we can control how it makes us feel.
Trying to control every single aspect of our lives is exhausting, and it will take us pretty much nowhere.
Enlightenment is about acceptance and nurturing our spirit in a way that we can deal with what’s going on outside. It’s about recovering faith, about wanting to live genuinely, even if that means wearing a face covering most of the time.
What Is Coming and How to Deal with It
I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but even if a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered today, a long time will still have to pass before the world recovers its “normality.”
This means we, as a conscious collective, need to respect security measures and be patient.
I know what you are thinking; you are running out of patience. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel angry, confused, and anxious, but what can you do with that? Where are those feelings taking you?
Now I wish to recommend some practices to help you cope with this situation, and offer you a friendly hand in these hard times.
Look After Yourself First
Whether you live alone, with your family, romantic partner, or friends, if you don’t look after yourself first, there’s no way you can be there for anyone else.
All their fears, burdens, and anxieties will find space in your mind. Instead of helping them find comfort, you will be spinning around the same negative thoughts and emotions.
You can take care of yourself by eating healthier, finding at least one hour a day to breathe, to stop worrying, to nurture your mind, body, and spirit through many different activities. I’m not only talking about meditation here.
If taking care of yourself means taking a break from individual relationships and dynamics, do so! Don’t be scared or ashamed for taking distance if it is what you need.
Just be open enough to understand that the people or the situations you are distancing from deserve an explanation. Think it through carefully, make a list of pros and cons, and communicate your needs calmly and honestly.
Ask for Help
You are a strong person; I will never doubt it. But even the strongest ones deserve having someone to talk to about their problems and worries.
If you feel you are having difficulty coping with your feelings, seek spiritual and mental advice.
I am here for you. You can contact me, and we can work on this together.
Use technology in your favor and access coaching sessions or therapy sessions online. Maybe you can’t physically go to a building where the coach or the psychologist is, but you can make video calls.
Take Breaks from Social Media
One of the hardest things I have had to deal with in the last few years of my career is the number of people addicted to social media.
Endless scrolling is probably the worst thing technology could have done to our mental health. It’s like an infinite cascade of fake news, horrible comments and attacks, violent audiovisual content, polarization, and an anxiety factory.
It’s one thing to be informed of what’s going on and a completely different thing to expose yourself to all that negative content because you don’t have self-control.
Need to read the news? Check in the morning and afternoon; there’s no need to open your Twitter feed at night for that purpose. If your timeline turns too aggressive, all you have to do is block your phone and put it away for the rest of the night.
The shot will arrive, and I promise you, you will hear about it without having to refresh your feed every 5 minutes.
Make Room for New and Better Choices
Many people I have worked with during the pandemic have lost their jobs, which of course, unleashed tons of insecurities in them.
Some others have lost dear ones, and others have seen their company close indefinitely.
To them, and you, I say: this is not the end.
Maybe you don’t have a job right now, but there are other options you can consider. If you are great at cooking, perhaps an interesting option is to start selling food.
Perhaps take some time to work on your CV. Not every employer looks for the same thing, so giving a little love to your CV will help you stand out among others.
Here’s a quick exercise. Grab a piece of paper (not your phone) and divide it into three columns. In the first one write your current problems. Don’t focus too much on describing them, and please, don’t look for trouble where there is none.
The next column should contain ideas on how you can get rid of the first column’s issues. Keep it short; write down everything that comes to mind, even it’s not exactly logical at the time.
And in the third column, write down everything you and only you can do to make those things in the second column a reality.
The purpose of this exercise is to help you see that there are actions you can take. We are never hopeless or defenseless. We need to look deep inside and be gentle enough with ourselves to see positive results.
I understand that this can be difficult; I know it may take time. But you have made it all the way here, don’t you think it’s worth the shot?
If you are not convinced yet, let’s talk! Try to convince me why it’s not worth it. Maybe together, we can identify opportunities where you only see problems.