Mindfulness | Shock | Mental Health
Coping With Uncertainty
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr(1892–1971)
Our days are running together like an endless scene in a movie. I’m losing track of what day of the week it is. This sometimes happens to me when I’m on holidays, but now it’s worse.
Last weekend was a long weekend and I didn’t realize it until Sunday.
Yesterday I had coffee with my mother in the garden. We sat on opposite sides of a six foot arbour, distancing while remaining social.
“It feels like I’m in limbo”, she said.
It’s like I’m waiting for something to happen. Maybe I’m waiting for things to go back to the way they are.
I think we’re experiencing emotional shock.
But we should have seen it coming.
Other countries experienced the onslaught of the virus before we had our first confirmed cases and they were caught mainly unprepared. It gave us time for our hospitals to make some preparations, but as individual citizens, there was really no understanding of what was to come.
My husband and I had travelled across the Province with our daughter to visit her grandmother in a care home. We left on Friday and by the time we were driving home, she had been notified that her workplace had closed and she was working from home.
There was no notice.
For some, this virus has meant taking risks every day to work in service to others.
For others, our service has meant we’ve been staying at home.
We’ve been stumbling along, assuming that things will always be the same.
Our body has a powerful response to a threat. Shock can send us into fight, flight or freeze.
One symptom of shock is a surge of adrenaline.
Some other clues are feelings of disbelief or confusion.
I’ve been noticing that sometimes I feel disconnected.
I’m angry for no reason — that’s fight.
I want to get in my car and drive until I’m out of gas — that’s flight.
This shock is part of the freeze response.
I can’t figure out what to do next so I don’t do anything.
Waiting for an uncertain future is difficult.
I’ve decided to treat my new life as if I have been transported to another planet. It’s a parallel universe of sorts. I’m still me. My surroundings are mainly the same and I struggle with the same traits and habits as before.
But I’m no longer going to wait for something to happen.
I’ve decided to start living in this new world as best as I can.
1. Accept the changes may be permanent.
2. Decide to stop waiting for something to happen.
3. Take an honest inventory of my skills and abilities and how I can contribute.
4. Make a written plan.
5. Review, adapt, repeat.
As a result, I’m going to take steps to become more resilient and less dependent. I realize that individuals can’t rely on governments to always be there for them — at least in short term emergencies. A supply of food and water to support your family for a few days is a start.
I’m preparing for several possibilities:
My power could go out for a long period of time. I need to get some flashlights and batteries, candles and matches.
I might find less food on the shelves the next time I do to the grocery store. I can shop local, grow food and have a supply of food on hand.
The internet may be disrupted. I can backup important files and take copies of legal documents now. Storage in the cloud isn’t going to help me if the internet is down.
Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” -William James
Acceptance can be difficult but it will allow you to move forward.
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