When my husband first told me the whole country was going to be on lock-down, I was about to board a 10 PM flight to Rome. “I’ll pick you up,” he said. “All trains have been canceled.”. I had a feeling Alex was over-reacting, but I was happy for the ride nonetheless. After two weeks in New York City working up to fourteen hours per day, the idea to combine an eight-hour flight with two more hours of train-ride was less than appealing.
However, the moment my flight landed in Fiumicino airport, I knew, on a visceral level, I had massively underestimated the situation. As I descended the plane and began to walk through the empty corridors, I felt anxious and disoriented. The visual of arm guards, people wearing masks, and the thick, dense energy surrounding everyone, instantly took me back to 9/11.
And yet, just a day before I was in New York City, having lunch in a packed restaurant surrounded by my friends and clients, laughing out loud, openly judging Europeans for being so scared and apprehensive of something that was nothing more than a flu, and accusing them of buying into the culture of fear and separation. How could I have underestimated the situation so massively?
Yes, fear is contagious. Yes, positive thinking is helpful and essential. Yes, panicking and watching the news all day is unhelpful and harmful. But as a parent of two young boys, a teacher in my community, and a mentor to many women, how could I have handled this differently and what could I do now to shift my perspective and keep my self and my family healthy, strong, and safe during this crazy time?
Here are five things that are helping me and my community deal with this crisis in a constructive way:
- Acknowledge your feelings fully: Besides underestimating the situation and judging my self for feeling disoriented and afraid, one of the biggest mistakes I initially made was to resist my feelings. I spent the first 48 hours feeling guilty for not reacting to what was happening in a more productive way. I felt no energy to meditate, workout, speak to people, step into my leader shoes, or help those around me navigate their own experience. The feeling of guilt, stagnation, and inadequacy consumed me until I remembered there was only one thing to do. Choose again. Give my self permission to feel, react, or even numb-out for as long as I needed to so that I could process what was happening around me and reconnect with my truth. Feeling free to feel bad, and having the right to experience the full spectrum of my emotions made me feel immediately lighter and within a few hours, I began to feel a little relief and a more genuine desire to move, breath, and do something to shift my vibration without pushing my self into doing it.
- Stay informed but limit the exposure to fear: I turned down all phone notifications and got in the practice of checking one trusted information source twice per day. Once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon. Deciding to stay away from the news as soon as I woke up or late at night has helped me and my family maintain some level of sleep hygiene and contain the amount of stress we allow into our psyche and our bodies without disconnecting from the important updates in our community.
- Move Your Body: After feeling numb, stagnant, and unresponsive for a little over 48 hours, I decided it was time to move. I went for a short yet intense, ten minutes cardio circuit that immediately elevated my heart rate and catapulted me back into my body. I was reminded of how important it is to get back into the body, and I felt inspired to share a link to one of the most powerful movement experiences I have ever created with my online community.
- Reach out: Not all our friends or family member may be equipped with the right amount of compassion, sensitivity, and strength to help you during a difficult time and I must confess I felt quite sad by the way some of my best friends in the United States reacted to my situation and to my feelings. That didn’t stop me from keep trying, and within a few calls I was able to connect with a client of mine who immediately made me feel seen, felt, and loved. In moments of isolation and fear, feeling seen and understood can keep us sane. Don’t stop trying!
- Make an effort to look normal: I am not saying just shower and put on a clean PJ here! Take a long shower, do your hair and makeup, wear something nice and luxurious, eat seating down at the dinner table using the nice china you normally save for guests and do whatever it takes to feel and look normal. Even if I like to think of my self as a spirit having a human experience, I am having a human experience. So are you. Honoring our physical self fully can help us anchor down in our presence on this planet and feel alive.
Obviously, the lock-down is not over, and I will sure learn more things from this experience. But as the crises spread over the ocean, I want you all in the US to feel prepared. Prepared doesn’t mean buying toilet paper, although you should because who wants to be in the house without it. It means internally prepared to feel, connect, reach out, change your mind, forgive, and try again. You are human, you are not alone, and this too shall past. Now wash your hands, say safe, and go for a walk in the park for me.