How to cope with (and benefit from) what you can’t see during the time of corona

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Photo credit: Kristina Leonardi

Well then … here we are. Since many of you are likely at home, or things are slow for you at work, or your event/show/conference/class has been cancelled, you might have a little extra time to kick back and read ;)

When I sat down to write this, I recalled the PGG essay I wrote back in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy, when the NYC area was especially hard hit and normal life was disrupted in a major way for the first time since 9/11. At that time, the external impact via decimation of homes and lack of power to keep our infrastructure going was quite striking and lasted several weeks, if not months for some. This pandemic is more internal, elusive and global, not only via the microscopic pathogens we cannot see that affect us physically within our body, but also mentally within our psyche.

Now, in March 2020 (as I write this on none other than a Friday the 13th), we find ourselves at war with an invisible enemy called COVID-19. Although we are not under siege from literal bombing and the majority of us currently have shelter, food and electricity, this crisis will give rise to hardship, on the physical health of some and on the economic health of most all. But at the moment it might even be more of a psychological crisis, not unlike the looming yet invisible threat of terrorism or mass shootings: a bit amorphous, being aware of a constant potential danger but not knowing when or where it will strike. And of course the whole crowd/public gathering thing has always been a big target. Either scenario is a nice way to hijack our normal rational sensibilities and prey upon our human brain’s aversion to the threat of the unknown, our mind’s gripping adherence to control, and our culture’s irrational propensity for scapegoating, boogeyman/doomsday-ing and buying into any variety of Hollywood plot.

This is why — after heeding all the advisable, tangible, practical precautions and protocols — it’s important to step out of the endless loop of information being spewed 24/7 and remain vigilant in our minds, and not go down rabbit holes and/or make up worst-case scenarios. (Hello toilet paper madness!) In other words, right now this is not only a physical hygiene and economic problem, but a mental/emotional/spiritual one, perhaps even more so.

For someone like me, a self-employed single introvert with tendencies to isolate, being at home, a quarantine or social distancing is NBD, in fact it’s the norm. But for many, this is the opposite of normal and can make people feel quite uncomfortable and on edge.

As we ride out these next few weeks, and maybe months, it’s important to do an inventory of any anger, frustrations, worries, fears and anxieties and find ways to release them — most of all by accepting what IS (see my The Present of Presence PGG ) and “Be where your feet are.” Inhale, exhale. Move your body. Get fresh air and sunshine. Cry. Use all your tools in the tool box and do whatever you can to feel your feelings and let them go because holding on to and regurgitating them is not productive — can be downright toxic — and weakens your immune system, which is your first line of defense if “attacked.” Replace them with positive, immune-boosting feel-good feelings like gratitude, connection, pleasure, love — anything that is uplifting, fun, funny or heartwarming. These will stimulate your antibodies and flood your system with healthy biochemistry, and the viral enemy — whether physical, mental or emotional — will not find fertile ground in you.

And remember that thoughts are things, and words are their manifestation, so you don’t want to pollute the mental/emotional atmosphere any more than the news and social media already are.

We can each take responsibility for helping to mitigate the current crisis by monitoring and adapting our mental, physical and emotional behaviors. This too shall pass, and like any challenge, we have to go through and ultimately grow from it. Think about what you can learn about yourself, others, biology, government, public health, your finances and more; what you can accomplish when your time is otherwise occupied (hello spring cleaning, learning to cook, knitting that sweater, reading War and Peace, etc.). Make lemonade out of lemons. Times of crisis are some of the best times for creativity to emerge. It can also be helpful to have an Attitude of Gratitude and allow yourself to be a Body at Rest.

We are just starting to see how this situation is revealing and both testing and strengthening the inner and outer cracks in our foundation — internally in our personal lives as well as externally in our communities and governments. I believe ultimately this will only benefit us by showing how we can course-correct and move forward together in the highest and best ways that the 21st century promises, should we rise to the challenge. For now, we wash our hands, watch our minds, and wait it out with gratitude, love, deep breaths and patience …

(Excerpted and adapted from my weekly PGG newsletter that went out on Friday, March 13, 2020)

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Kristina Leonardi is a nationally recognized career and life coach, speaker and author who for over 12 years had empowered individuals to make lasting professional and personal changes aligned with their true passions and talents while fulfilling their role in the world at large.With a holistic and personal growth-oriented approach, she has helped hundreds of men and women over the past decade improve their job performance, enter or re-enter the job force, change careers, better manage their time and stress, and live happier, more meaningful, balanced lives. Her specialty is working with people who feel stuck or are in transition and can help you clarify exactly what you want to do, identify blocks, issues, and patterns in your way, and offer proven ideas, resources, and action steps to get you there.

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Speaker,Coach,Writer.Very Tall. Expertise:People. All kinds, what makes 'em tick, how they fit into the world, how they can best connect to themselves + others.

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