Five rules to live by in a time of crisis

The pandemic crisis we are experiencing worldwide  is surely multi-facetical and complex. Thus, it is perfectly understandable to feel overwhelmed from all the tragic news, social media feeds and the recently imposed radical measures of social distancing.  Whether you believe this started as a pure accident, a conspiracy, or like me, are stuck in a state of continuous cognitive dissonance from the various hypotheses, on a day-to-day basis, it doesn´t really matter. We are here, we are stuck, we have no idea when or how this global drama will come to an end, as well as, to what extent will we be affected long term, on a medical, economic, social and psychological level.  While we can certainly romanticise this nightmare, as many have already been doing on social media platforms, and attributing the situation to “ the planet renewing its self”, “nature teaching us a lesson”, “ needing to be more globally connected”, the bottom line is, we need to maintain our sanity (assuming we were sane to begin with ) during this crisis.  Here’s my 2 cents from a yogic & systemic point of view on how you can cope with this challenging time (and I will not preach about washing your hands and wearing a mask, as you all pretty well know this).

  1. Cultivate radical acceptance –  staying grounded and mindful is crucial at this time. It’s best to dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to a seated practice, with eyes closed and bringing the attention to your breath for the first 5 minutes (breathing in & out through the nose). Once you manage to empty your mind and relax, bring the current situation you are living to your attention; the emotions, the stress, the worry and simply observe it without judging or labeling. Certain disturbing thoughts will trigger sensations in the body such as tightening in the chest, belly discomfort, rigid shoulders, a clenched jaw, etc.  Observe these sensations without resistance. No matter what comes up, relax and accept it. Be fully present. With time, this exercise will build up your mental strength and help you deal with whatever comes your way with more clarity.
  1. Stay focused – The mind is pretty dumb and naturally, it will project the most horrendous outcomes if you allow it to. One thing is to accept reality as it is, and another, to dwell on it and succumb to your worst fears. Get busy. Have a mission, a long-term plan and take daily actions to reach your results.  Maybe it’s time to start your yoga or fitness practice, write a book, learn a new skill or create your future business plan. The more you focus on your goals and are productive, the less mental toxicity you’ll experience. I find that it really helps to have a daily routine and stick to it.
  1. Don’t get stuck in the drama. Being compassionate towards others is what makes us human, and reaching out to friends, family and even strangers, in time of need, should be the norm in our interactions.  Still though, there is a fine line between showing compassion and getting emotionally stuck in someone else’s story. The first is an act of empowerment for both parties and the latter, a draining experience that takes away the power from you and the person you perceive as a victim.  At the same time, remember to let go of your own drama too. Are you holding any grudges? Is it time to let go and forgive those who you think have caused damage in your life? Forgiveness restores immense amounts of energy that we need now, more than ever.
  1. Be grateful – If you are currently able to work from home, are well, and have a family that is healthy and safe, you are indeed, very privileged. Do look for the silver lining of any given situation, no matter how negative it may seem at the time.  How have you grown as a person through this experience? What have you learned so far and what are you grateful for? Count your blessings every single day, as some of the most basics things to you, are a sheer pipe dream to another.
  1. Eat, Sleep & Move –  Our mind is greatly influenced by our physiological state and vice versa. Therefore, by cultivating your wellbeing and inner balance, not only will you gain mental strength, but also boost your much-needed immune system. Getting enough sleep ensures your body produces enough cytokines, i.e. the type of proteins necessary to combat stress and infections.  Eliminating, or at least reducing white sugar, white flour, saturated fats, alcohol and caffeine greatly reduces inflammation in the body, as well as, calms the nervous system. On the other hand, adding loads of green veggies, fruit, legumes, probiotics etc., can help you maintain your immune system in tact.   Moderate exercise is linked to slowing down the release of stress hormones, may lead to a higher number of white blood cells that are needed to fight disease, and to put it simply, you will look and feel better!

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