The Emotional Toll Of The Coronavirus
The Emotional Toll Of The Coronavirus
In the last few weeks, one thing has become apparent. The atmosphere has changed and people have been fearful and panicky. There has also been so much anxiety mixed with it. How often are you allowed to go out? Is that trip to the shop to pick up ice cream really essential? Should I wear a face mask?
And underneath all that, there has been a sense of loss. The loss of a way of life: going out of the house, going to work, children at school. The loss of being able to meet up with friends and family. Most of us have been grieving that ‘old’ way of doing things in their own ways: some people have become angry. Others have decided to ignore it and carry on as usual. Some people have become quite depressed and sad about it all.
This is affecting many areas of our life. People often report they struggle to sleep. Some are getting more short-tempered or frustrated. Quite a few of us have been resorting to comfort eating or a glass or two of alcohol t the end of the day.
The Emotions in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine terms, this has been all about Metal and Water. In my last post, you will remember that Chinese Medicine sees the body as a balance of 5 Elements. Each of those Elements is linked to some emotions.
Grief and sadness are all about Metal.
Fear and panic is about Water.
Anger and frustration is Wood
Laughter and anxiety is Fire
Worry is about the Earth.
Even though fear and grief are probably the two main emotions around at the moment, I think we are experiencing some of the others at the same time too. For some anxiety will be the real sticking point while for other frustration at being stuck in the house all day with young children will be the issue.
The best thing you can do is to be mindful of what is happening for you. What is the main emotion going on at the moment? Once you’ve identified that emotion, try and support the specific Element related to it.
Fear and Water
Fear is the emotion related to Water. To be able to calm our fears down, we need to rebalance Water. This will make us feel more grounded. There are many ways to do so.
* Go out for a walk in nature
* Walk bare feet in the garden
* Do some journaling and write down all our fears on paper. Usually, 10 mins freely writing whatever is going through your mind, including all those fears is an excellent way to put those at rest. Doing that in the evening, just before going to bed, could also help you sleep better.
Look here for some more ideas.
Anger and Wood
Anger is the emotion associated with the Wood. But so is creativity and being organised. This means there are many ways to rebalance the Wood energy.
* Do some exercise, whatever it is. Get out of the house, move around (Did some people do some of the Joe Wicks exercise class with their children?). Yoga or any stretching exercise is good too. Go up and down the stairs. Any movement will help rebalance the Wood.
* Get creative! Do some colouring or some drawing, painting. You can put all digital photos in an album. Find a new recipe and prepare that for dinner. Anything that will help you be creative in your own way will strengthen the Wood. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or particularly arty. Just your own creation.
* Get organised. Maybe you want to go through your cupboard and organise it better. Perhaps it’s your desk or your computer files (I am looking at my Inbox thinking I need to finally put the emails I want to keep in a folder and in the other in the Bin…..). Or maybe creating a menu for the week will make feel more in control of what is going on.
* Have an Epson salt bath before going to bed. These will help your muscles relaxed and therefore, will make you feel more relaxed.
* Meditation is another nice way to relax. There are many apps available now, a lot of them free. You can try:
* Do some yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise, and just because of the movement involved, it will help with relaxation. However, with Hatta Yoga and other form of yoga, there is also a strong emphasis on the breath, making it closer to a type of meditation in movement. One straightforward position, in particular, is beneficial as it influences the vagus nerve too:
- Lie of your back with your bottom very close to a wall. Gently move your legs on the wall and relax. You can stay in that position for a few minutes and then gently bend your knees and move your legs away from the wall.
- Avoid if suffering from hypertension or glaucoma.
Anxiety and Fire
Fire is all about laughter and connexion with people. Think about a young child running around, laughing. That is the Fire energy. What can help you is:
* Laugh. Whatever is working for you. Your partner, your child antics, that television series or film that you know will make you laugh. Some videos on Youtube. Just try and make sure you take time to laugh. You can’t be laughing and anxious at the same time.
“We have been told to use ‘social distancing’ when really it should have been PHYSICAL distancing. We don’t want to be socially distant from people. If anything, we should be tightening up those relationships.”
* Connect with people! Look at how you can connect with family members or friends. Use Zoom or Skype to have a virtual cuppa with the whole family. Make time for some cuddles with a partner or a pet. Is there a friend you haven’t heard for a while? What about reconnecting with them?
* Gratitude is also strengthening Fire. You can make time at the end of the day to think about 3 things to be grateful about. Or you could have a jar and put a piece of paper in it with a good thing that happened to you today. It can be really big or tiny. Anything from ‘I saw a beautiful beetle today’ to ‘Mum has come out of the hospital today’.
* Singing is another great way to support Fire and ease anxiety. You don’t have to be a great singer. Just enjoy the time singing. Some people have joined a virtual choir. Some people are just signing in the shower or when they hear a favourite song. The idea is to just sing and enjoy yourself while doing it!
Worry and the Earth
The Earth is very much about our diet and about caring, caring for other people and been cared for.
* What are you eating? What we eat and how we eat is one of the most important thing we can do to support ourselves, both physically and emotionally. Taking the time to eat, eating as a family and making it an enjoyable experience (I often tell people to think about the French and how they can have long meals together as a family, send eating but also talking, laughing, connecting with the people around them).
* Caring for people is something a lot of people seem to do quite easily. Women, in particular, will care for their children, their partner. At this moment, maybe it will be more about helping your next-door neighbour who can’t go out of the house. Or it could be a plant on your windowsill or a pet.
* Caring for yourself! This is the thing that is often going right at the bottom of the priority list. But now is the time to care for yourself, the same way you care for other people around you. Make a list of the things you want to do for your own wellbeing. Is t about doing some exercise because you are feeling frustrated? Is it about looking at your diet, connecting with some friends? Whatever it is you really need to do to feel better, make it a priority (id recommend to do it either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, so there is less chance for other things to creep in and ‘steal’ that me time)
* Have a routine. Routine and rhythm are essential to support the Earth. Especially if you are home not working, it is easy to lose any routine we might have. I have seen people getting up much later, meals being moved around at different times etc .… In reality, having some sort of routine helps our body to function better. When we stick to a similar time to go to bed and get up in the morning, it promotes sleep. Keeping some routine about getting dressed in the morning after breakfast (has anyone being staying in their pj’s until lunchtime?), going out for some fresh and exercise in the afternoon will all help.
Grief and the Metal.
This one I think is important both on a physical and on an emotional point of view. Metal is about sadness but also about letting go and of course the breath.
* Let go of things. This is the right time now to go through your cupboard and let go of the things that don’t serve you anymore. Is there any clothes you never wear, kitchen appliances you know you will never use?
* Try alternate nostril breathing.
- With your index finger resting over the bridge of your nose, block one nostril with either your thumb or your middle finger (depending on which nostril you are blocking). Breathing in, block the right nostril with a finger. Breathing out, move your finger away and block the left nostril. Breathing in, keep your left nostril blocked. Breathing out, move your finger away and block the right nostril again. Continue for up to 5 mins.
- You can also look at that video for more information.
You can also find more ideas in my previous post here.
Just looking at all that list, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Just remember that you are not supposed to do everything. You need to concentrate only on things about what will make the most difference to you at the moment. Are you feeling particularly anxious? Then focus on activities that will rebalance Fire. Are you feel particularly frustrated, look at activities balancing the Wood.
Most importantly, make those a priority. At this moment in time, we don’t really know how long we will stay in lockdown, so looking after ourselves and our mental health should be a priority. The best is to choose one or two activities and make a pact with yourself to do them every day.
And as usual, if you have any question, please fire away!