Hindsight will be 2020. Years from now we will fully understand how the coronavirus spread, how to treat COVID-19 and how to protect ourselves from it. Years from now the full economic impact of this crisis will be clear and we will have found a path forward. But for now, uncertainty looms and we are bombarded by conflicting information and advice.
Like early aviators maneuvering planes through areas of poor visibility without effective instruments, we too are flying blind. The information we need to navigate the route ahead isn’t available. We are left to feel our way through the clouds. We may be guided by emotion: fear, anger or hope. We might use our values to orient us: freedom versus protection. The high-tech flight instruments that our pilots use now are like the vaccines, tests and protective mechanisms our scientists will eventually develop for coronavirus. But we don’t have them yet.
Emerging from the stay-at-home orders, we each need to make decisions about when and how we will again do business, work and play together. Will we maintain a physical distance? Will we wear masks? What are our rights? What are our responsibilities? What are the risks to us? To others? We have to grapple with these uncertainties and make decisions about our own next steps, and find a way to be respectful of people whose decisions differ from ours.
Such uncertainty strains mental health. Protect your emotional wellbeing by embracing the uncomplicated decision to do a simple daily act of self-care. You might commit to slowing your breathing for two minutes to calm your body each morning while you wait for your coffee to brew. Or maybe you decide to commit five minutes each evening before going to sleep to pray or meditate. Or you might write a gratitude journal to bring your attention to the helpers and blessings in your life. Being decisive about tending to your emotional health will help you see more clearly as you navigate the uncharted territory ahead.
Photo credit: Gerhard Gellinger