When COVID-19 first started breaking the news here in Canada, I was feeling so much fear, so much uncertainty and unrest. Much like 9-11, I became engulfed in the news; watching and waiting for the next update and newly reported numbers. It was like watching a train wreck and not being able to look away. That all-consuming feeling and obsession with what was happening all over the world, hijacked my life.
About three days into it, I remembered that I had a choice in all of this. Although initially I didn’t understand what the choice was, I had a sense that something was niggling at me, something was creating an inner turmoil that was reactivated every time I watched the news or held a conversation on the topic. So, I did what I do when something is bugging me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I asked myself, “what is it that I am feeling” and then followed it up with “where am I feeling it in my body?” Sometimes, all we need to do is ask the question – the answers are usually already inside of us.
I discovered that I was feeling stuck in this weird place of connection and disconnection. I was really struggling with the terms “social distancing” and “self-isolation” and “quarantine.” I was feeling SEGREGATED; separate from everyone else and more importantly from Divine. I was feeling it right in my heart, in my chest as a tight constriction…that feeling that I get just on the precipice of experiencing anxiety. I was feeling like those words, all the news and the repetition of it all was really counter-productive; harmful even. You see, this year, my power word is THRIVE…and how can one thrive when feeling disconnected? I was oscillating between frustration and determined motivation…spinning my wheels and going nowhere.
Asking those questions are always an entry point for me to dig deeper. I knew, without a doubt, that my perspective on this situation and the lens through which I was seeing life needed to be reframed. It begs to question, how do we re-frame a Global Pandemic?
For me, I find power in words. What I needed to reframe were the words; realizing that those three terms weretriggering me emotionally, I turned to the thesaurus. All of the words that I found as alternatives to quarantine, isolation and distancing actually held the same feelings for me. Words like confinement, segregation, aloneness, separation…all created that same feeling of tightness in my chest. The alternatives simply didn’t feel right.
It was time to think outside of the box.
I turned to my journal, as I often do when things are bothering me. And this was when the more appropriate word floated up for me:
The definition of hibernation is a season of inactivity, a time to conserve energy during adverse and harsh conditions, it is an important adaptation for survival. Now, I don’t know about you, but that is by and large what many of us are doing right now. When animals hibernate, their systems sleep; which we as humans cannot do…but we can reflect, overhaul our systems, re-invent ourselves by going deeply within. We can get quiet, enjoy the silence, enjoy the inner workings of our minds, really sort through our thoughts, have deeper communications and connections with those in our tribe, and prepare for a new season of life.
Hibernation is the flip for me. It makes me feel HOPEFUL. It makes me feel like I am preparing for a new way of being. It feels better in my body, with a lightness in my chest. It feels more empowering and comes with a knowingness that I will wake up from all of this when it is time. Now, when I watch the news, have a conversation, I insert the word hibernation in place of the words that drain my power and sense of connectedness. It is a constant flip, a retraining of the brain because words are THAT powerful. When something doesn’t feel right, it is important to ask ourselves why? And then do our due diligence to forge our own way in a way that feels right for us. And it is okay if that looks different for each of us.
Some days, it feels like I am swimming upstream against a current that is as strong as Niagara Falls. On those days, I gently remind myself that I am safe in hibernation; even if the world outside is like the harshest of winters.
I’ve decided that the choice in the season of COVID-19 for me, is to carefully choose my perspective. Pay attention to what doesn’t feel right, make necessary adjustments to keep moving forward. This season is just as temporary as all the other seasons in life; this too shall pass. In the end, I get to decide if I will be stronger coming through this particular season than when I went in. My mindset matters. My mindset determines the outcome.
Your mindset and metal health matter too. Please lean into counsellors, therapists, coaches and trusted friends to ensure that you too, not only survive but THRIVE through this season of hibernation.