What To Do In A Time Of Crisis

The last week has brought unprecedented changes to our lives personally, socially and financially both locally and globally. Many of us are now confined to our homes, asked to stay away from our own family members, friends and acquaintances for fear of contracting or spreading Coronavirus with imposed breaks from our work, university, college or school. We are being told that these measures are only short term to control the spread of this pandemic but the truth is we have no idea how this will play out.

A lot of us suddenly have more time on our hands and do not know what to do except to simmer in our own negative thinking about what is happening out there leading to increasing fear, anxiety and panic. These feelings, coupled with the inevitable boredom from being confined to our homes, can lead to grief and even depression. It is not inconceivable that this Coronavirus pandemic could trigger other pandemics of anxiety and depression.

This is why it is vitally important to know how to cope and what to do in a time of crisis such as what we are facing today. Here are a few pointers which I have come up with to help you deal with the current situation.

1. Stay centred and grounded. It is easy to get swept up by the chaos and overwhelm going on around you, however now is the time to centre yourself. You need to become grounded to weather the storm that has begun and is likely to worsen over time before it improves. There are various ways that people stay centred from meditation and other stillness practices to reading to participating in your favourite hobby or sport. It is not important what you do but that you actually do something to stay grounded. If you have nothing that you do to stay centred, now may be the best time to find a practice that resonates with you.

2. Prepare for now and the immediate future. You must quell your anxiety by actually preparing for the worst. This could mean stocking up on canned food, buying candles for power outages and stocking up on other household supplies such as paper towels, cleaning supplies and any medications you may need. This does not mean that the worst will happen but that you are prepared for any inevitability.

3. Practice conscious breathing techniques. This could be as complex as learning a specific breathing technique, such as Buteyko or Pranayama, or as simple as practicing slow, deep breathing for a few minutes every hour. Conscious breathing will improve oxygen delivery to your brain, let alone all of your cells, tissues and organs, which will improve your focus, concentration, ability to think and reason and make the right decisions in challenging times. It will also trigger the relaxation response to help you deal with the stress of the current situation.

4. Stay well hydrated. The average person is chronically dehydrated which can lead to fatigue, low energy, poor focus and concentration and put you at higher risk of getting ill. It is difficult to drink a standard 8 glasses of water a day so what I recommend is that you keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times and sip it throughout the day.

5. Optimize your nutrition. A time of crisis is when you should be doing everything to improve your health which includes optimizing your nutrition which will, not only help maintain your energy levels, but also help prevent illness. Nutrition is a huge subject which is beyond the scope of this article to address but, essentially, you should minimize your intake of inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy and processed foods and increase your intake of whole, natural foods, especially vegetables and fruits which are nutrient dense.

6. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is needed for our bodies to rest, heal, strengthen our immune system and prepare for the next day. We need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a daily basis and it is important to make this a priority in our lives, regardless of what else is going on.

7. Ask yourself how you can help the current situation and do something about it. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty there are many local societal needs that need to be addressed. Find out how you can be of assistance. Perhaps you can buy groceries for frail seniors in your neighbourhood, organize your neighbourhood to create a network to pool resources if this becomes necessary or provide reassurance and coaching to those you know who may be anxious and fearful. We all need to rise to the challenge of doing whatever we can to assist others in times of crisis through leadership and example.

8. Do something that you have always wanted to do. Now that you may have more time on your hands, you may have an interest or hobby that you have always wanted to pursue or a project that you have put on hold. Perhaps you want to start writing that book that you’ve been thinking about, start that online business that you’ve been pondering or take a course or workshop to add to your knowledge and skills. Realize that for anything that you want to achieve, there is no tomorrow and now is the best time to start, especially if you have been forced to stay home and have ample time on your hands.

In conclusion, a time of crisis is not a time to fall apart in fear and uncertainty but a time to dig deep inside, tap into your hidden potential and then rise to the occasion to be and achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Only when enough of us follow this path will we, collectively, be able to change the trajectory of the plight that we now find ourselves in.

Nauman Naeem MD

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