Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.”
—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
As we all prepare to resume some kind of "normalcy" post these two months of lockdown, our future is fuzzier than ever. All we really know for sure is that many things will have changed when we reopen, some forever. As a Health Coach, my interest lies in helping my clients to navigate through health challenges and this becomes even more important during times of a crisis like this.
As you may have noticed, I have been writing a series of blog posts that can help you build emotional resilience in these difficult times. Whether it is compassion, fear, equanimity, loss, setting intentions, I have covered various aspects that can help support your emotional health. This post (and the next one) is about creating an empowering health plan that you can put in place to help you keep yourself and your family healthy in this crisis and beyond.
While I am not a medical professional or a virologist/epidemiologist, I have been blessed to be a part of a community of like-minded health professionals across disciplines thanks to my Health Coaching background. Now due to my current enrolment in the School of Applied Functional Medicine, once again I am a part of a community of health professionals and other health coaches in the Functional Medicine space dedicated to addressing the root cause of any health condition and healing people from the inside out. This has given me access to the latest science based research and information beyond what is available in popular media and helps me to get a perspective that is more balanced and wholesome.
Before I go on any further, I want to say this…..
At the end of the day, it is really up to us how we respond to this crisis. Do we really want to remain stuck in our old patterns or do we learn something from the present crisis and build something new? It is really up to us!
A few things to keep in mind
The first thing is that I have been noticing lately is a kind of expectation that has built up over an almost "miracle cure" for COVDI19 once a vaccine comes out. It is quite normal to hope for a solution to a problem given what we are all going through, but it may not quite be the panacea we are hoping for which will solve all our problems. This not to say that we should not be looking for a vaccine, but that the vaccine may not be all that we had hoped it would be. As history has shown us earlier, It takes quite a bit longer than 12-18 months to come up with a vaccine that is BOTH safe and effective. Even if a vaccine does come which is both, it will most likely take quite a while before every single person has access to it.
The second thing is that we need to accept that the virus is not really going anywhere (with or without a vaccine). The virus does not adhere to any timelines, have any political affiliations or discriminate on the basis of caste/religion apart from taking advantage of a vulnerable host. It becomes helpful then to learn to think of COVID19 not only as an enemy but as yet another organism that has evolved given the opportunity that the current environment has provided it. Can we not use this crisis then, to reflect on the role that humans have played in destroying our natural environment which this virus is also a part of?
The third thing is that we often take for granted or otherwise underestimate the power of our own bodies. We have evolved over millions of years in nature and have survived many such crises as a species. Yet, many of us do not support our bodies and take care of our physical and emotional health the way we should. As you know by now, this is a novel coronavirus and we have never been exposed to it before, which is why our immune system is not able to identify and eradicate it before it takes hold. Even so, there are many ways that we can support our immune system and optimise our health so that we improve our chances of dealing with this virus in a manner such that we have milder symptoms and a faster recovery.
The storm is not over yet
We are obviously very much in the midst of the present crisis. While some countries have cautiously started easing their restrictions and reopening their economies, the future is still quite uncertain about the timeline of the COVID19 crisis and the containment of the spread of this virus. We will most likely have to get comfortable with living with this kind of uncertainty for a long while to come.
The sooner we get used to accepting this and start working towards making ourselves more resilient both emotionally and physically, the better off we will be.
There is a silver lining
There is a lot of pain, suffering and huge losses in the form of human lives and others. We are yet to see the end of this tunnel. Yet, even in the middle of this pain and suffering, we have a choice about how to respond. Once we are ready to move past the pain and come to grip with what we have lost, we can think of moving forward. We have an opportunity to create a future that is healthier and inclusive, we can use our collective suffering to unite and strengthen us.
(Read my earlier post on LOSS- how are you dealing with it?)
How DO you move forward?
Given this scenario, what is it that you can do?
A lot actually. A lot that is in your control. Whether it is building emotional resiliency, practising stress management or supporting your body to boost immunity to help you deal better with the COVID19 virus, there is a lot that is in your hands.
Often, when we focus on all those things that are NOT in our control, we start feeling helpless and disempowered. As a result, we get stuck and end up taking no action whatsoever. Whether it is something that will help you deal with the changes that are taking place at a professional or personal level, we all need to make decisions and take action in order to survive.
We need to ask ourselves- How do I need to show up in a world that has changed, both for myself and others?
In the video below, I address this question
Creating an empowering health plan
For many of us, a big part of this year so far has been quite disempowering and disheartening especially when it comes to health related issues. While illness and death are certainly a part of life, the scale that we are seeing today is unprecedented for most of us including those in the healthcare professions.
Along with social distancing and other measures that we are already taking, we owe it to ourselves and others to do our best to take better care of our health. If you have already been doing so, then it's great! You can just continue down that road.
For others, we may have let go of some of our healthy habits when the crisis hit us. It is time to get back on track now. For the rest of us, it starts with right where we are, with baby steps. It starts with accepting that we need to change the way we were doing things earlier, that it may be quite different from what we have been used to in the past.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with the changes that you may need to incorporate as you get back on track-
If it's a gym membership or sport that you used to enjoy- you may think about replacing that with online classes and solo activities, a walk outdoors (when it is permitted)
If it's a comfort food (dessert, alcohol) that you had started indulging in on a daily basis to help you get through the day- you may think of replacing that with a healthier alternative and/or use these foods only on a special occasion
If it's late night Netflix (movie/internet/social media) binge watching that you have started- you may replace that with a healthier habit like reading or listening to music/podcast
If it's a routine and/or schedule that you have let go of trying to juggle your work and home responsibilities (especially as a mom)- you may take out some time to think through your priorities and set down a proper routine that works for you and your family
At the end of the day, it is up to YOU to find ways that work for you now and in the long run. It is also up to you to create a health plan that inspires and motivates you to prioritise your self care so that you manage stress better, have better immunity and build emotional resiliency to help you deal with any kind of challenge.
In the meantime, you can listen to the latest episode of my podcast "NOURISH HEAL CONNECT". This episode shows you how to use your breath so that you can focus on different aspects (breath, body, release, love, craving, letting go, alive beauty) of your life that are important. As you do so, you will find that you are able to find more peace, calm and build resiliency even in the midst of all your suffering.
(In my next post, I will share with you some ideas to get you started on creating your own health plan)