Finding Our Calm

woman on a windowsill of a large room in a highrise, looking out the window

More than a dozen years ago, when I was at 680 News in Toronto, we had several meetings about what the company – Rogers – would do in the case of a pandemic. SARS came, sickened thousands and killed nearly 800 before it was stopped. Our plans to work from home, and perhaps put 680’s Vancouver counterpart on air, were never put to use.

But we knew from the experts that it would happen one day. We knew and then we forgot about it. There’s still a sense of disbelief about it. We’re living inside a movie only this is our lives. This article from the Harvard Business Review corrals what we’re feeling and names it: Grief. Scott Berinato writes:

If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.

HBR, March 23, 2020

My family members are well. Derek and Sugar and I are holding up and feeling fortunate that we’re already used to spending days on end with only each other’s company.

I’m concerned about people whose everyday anxieties are turned up to 11 as they’re stuck home alone with their thoughts. Somehow, never-ending consumption of news seems like the best way to stay safe when it’s really the fastest route to jangling nerves. People who want to know what’s going to happen next – even when that’s not possible – are running through every possible scenario because it feels like being prepared. I know whereof I speak – as a formerly anxious person, that’s not what being prepared looks like. Emergency planning does involve “what if” scenarios, but not on an endless, unanswerable, panicked loop.

My tweet: You don't HAVE to watch every news conference, every tweet tagged #pandemic and every prediction. It's not healthy. You won't miss anything if you check in from isolation/distancing once or twice a day to see what's going on.

People’s problems are real and for some, they are many. Last year, surveys of Canadians showed about half of all adults were unprepared financially for a crisis. Being stuck home with bored children who don’t understand the gravity of the situation has to be nerve-wracking. Especially if you’re also trying to get some work done. Not everyone is taking this seriously enough, too. If your boss or colleague thinks, “it’s being blown out of proportion”, that’s a stressor as well.

Info graphic that offers factual alternative thoughts to replace panicked thinking

If you wonder whether you’re eligible for federal government assistance, here’s a link to what they have in place: CANADA’S ECONOMIC RESPONSE PLAN.

Thank goodness we have phones and webcams so we can communicate with the outside world. (Imagine if it was the 70s??) Most of us want to help each other. There’s a new Facebook page called I Need in Canada where anyone across the country who needs anything can post it and someone will assist. Now is not the time for pride to get in the way of asking for help.

I hope that we emerge from this crisis with a greater sense of gratitude. Medical professionals don’t have the luxury of working from home. When we thanked the grocery store cashier for staying on the job, she said every customer does the same. But before we can change from it, we have to get through it.

The best advice I’ve heard is, don’t act as if you don’t want to get the virus. Act as if you have it and you don’t want to infect anyone else. A person can be a carrier without having any symptoms. Stay safe my friends. And if you’re anxious and you need someone to talk to, please reach out. We are separately united.

3 thoughts on “Finding Our Calm”

  1. Thank so much for this Lisa. I have worked from home for 15 years and I like my own company so I am fine, but I still appreciate your thoughts and suggestions, and your last paragraph is spot on. Glad to hear that you and your family are well. Take care.

  2. Great post. That endless loop of anxious thoughts can take over all reason if you don’t know how to stop it. I’m very grateful for CBT right now.

  3. Thanks for this Lisa. I have had moments of anxiety in the last few weeks for sure. But you’re right, turning off the news except for once or twice during a day is smart. I’ve been doing that and also keeping a distance from social media. Working from home is very new for me and after the initial hiccups getting things to work, I’m not hating it! The commute is the best I’ve ever had, the dress code is amazing, and I have music blasting all day long, which makes a huge difference in my day.

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