We are nearly one year into the COVID 19 pandemic and, needless to say, what a tumultuous time it has been. People’s lives have been upended in many ways, with respect to health, socially, mentally and financially. Even though, most countries are now well into the second wave of the pandemic, with new variants arising, the future still remains uncertain.
Many of us are like a ship without a rudder and have lost all sense of direction and a lot of fear and anxiety abounds. As a critical care physician, I have been on the frontlines and witnessed patients in various stages of illness with COVID 19, from just mild symptoms to being in severe respiratory failure on ventilators. I have watched people recover from being hospitalized with low oxygen levels to dying in the intensive care unit and everything in between.
If nothing else, the pandemic has been an eye opener and has reinforced some valuable lessons, which I would like to share with you here.
1) Your health is more important than anything else in your life. Without your health, all aspects of your life will suffer, including your relationships, your social life, your career and your finances, as you will not be productive if you’re not healthy. You must do whatever it takes to get your health in order including giving up toxic habits, prioritizing sleep, optimizing your nutrition and moving your body on a regular basis.
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I discuss lifestyle issues as they pertain to health but I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough, especially now that the pandemic has limited our access to the healthcare system. If the pandemic has not taught you the importance of prioritizing your own health through lifestyle modification then nothing else I tell you really matters and you should just stop reading here.
2) You must have a daily grounding practice. In such a tumultuous and uncertain time, the importance of a daily grounding practice becomes apparent. The purpose of grounding yourself is to anchor yourself in the depths of your being so that you are better able to weather the storms that life is and will continue to throw at you, the latest being the fallout from the pandemic. There are various forms of grounding practices that one can engage in including meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, going for a walk, martial arts as well as many others. The important thing is to find a practice which resonates with you and stick with it on a daily basis.
My grounding practices are meditation, spending time in nature and a regular martial arts practice but it is up to you to define yours.
3) Cherish your most most important relationships daily. In this time of physical distancing, our closest personal relationships take on so much more importance and must be nurtured and cultivated on a regular basis. Take time out of ever day, even if it is only 5 minutes, to spend uninterrupted time with your significant other, asking them how they are feeling and what is going through their mind. Spend quality time with your children, even if it is just helping them with their homework. If you don’t have a significant other or children, then reach out to your family members and close friends to see how they are doing and how you can uplift them.
If you find yourself lonely and isolated, then offer to volunteer at your favourite local community organization so you can contribute to others. By giving selflessly you will get more in return than you can ever give away.
4) Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon yourself to find your greater reason for living. You see, nobody is here by accident at this time in human history and we all have a deeper meaning and a higher mission to our lives. The way to discover this is to find the intersection between what your childhood dreams and ambitions are, what you skills, talents and abilities are and problems that people are struggling with that interest you the most. If you can find where these various entities intersect, then you have the starting point to discovering why you are here on the planet at this time. Combine this with what others are willing to pay you for and you have the makings of a business idea.
If you do only these four things consistently, you will be able to weather any storm that life throws at you, including the current pandemic, and will have a happier, more prosperous and fulfilling life.
There are no guarantees in life and anything can be taken away from us at any time, including life itself, which is why we must make the most of what precious little time we have left in this world. Do not waste another second lamenting over the past, no matter where it has taken you, but go boldly forward into the future, with the tools I have given you here.
If you do this then know that whatever you experience from this point forward is only for your growth and evolution, no matter how it appears on the outside. Herein lies the Great Eternal Peace, that so many of us seek and few of us ever find. Find it now with courage and conviction and watch your life transform.
Dr. Nauman Naeem