How To Relax During a Pandemic

I never thought that I would write a post with the above title. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the world is changing in ways many of us never imagined.

I’m writing to you from New York City. Today is April 5, 2020 and we have been informed, by the powers that be, that the virus is more powerful this week. In other words, the apex that is frequently discussed, is supposedly close. That means that this week is especially dangerous and we are supposed to stay indoors. It also means that life may be less dangerous, sooner, rather than later. There is very little that is definitive right now. We are living in a world of great unkowns and we are trying make sense of it all.

I read an article by Robert London, MD, on, entitled, “Is COVID-19 leading to a mental illness pandemic? Here is a link to the article.”

Dr. London discusses the anxiety and uncertainly that many people are feeling right now. He writes that we are, “witnessing a national epidemic of trauma. Specifically, what we have here is a clinical picture of PTSD.” I appreciate Dr. London writing about PTSD and that many, if not all of us, will experience some form of it.

Dr. London reminds us that most people will experience mild to moderate symptoms. It is important to remember that most of us will be fine. Along with that, it is significant to note that there will also be many deaths.

New York City is quiet. I can hear birds and sirens but mostly, I don’t hear anything. Although silence can be calming, it’s rare in the city. When I notice the silence, I also notice my reactions. They range from feeling grateful to feeling disorientated. When I remember why the city is quiet, I feel grief and fear and then I feel calm and grateful again.

Dr. London writes, “Treatment is mainly supportive, and some medication trials are being explored. However, we can empower people by helping them to develop skills aimed at increasing the ability to relax and focus on more positive aspects of life to break the chain of the stress and tension of anxiety as well as control the PTSD.” He offers three tecniques to offer people ways to relax.

The first involves counting, the second invloves imagery and the third involves actively creating two images and focusing on the one that is most calming.

There are a number of other resources available during this challenging time. There are guided meditations, on line yoga and exercise classes, music to listen to, people to call for talk therapy, greater access to religious and political leaders, easier ways to virtualy connect with friends and family, and many more ways to connect with others and ourselves.

This is a scary time and it is one that will change us forever. We will lose people and we will be reunited with others. It is so important to find ways to ground oneself. That might mean, creating a schedule every day or checking in with loved ones or making sure to exercise or meditate regularly. Do whatever works for you. If you need additional assistance, please reach out to me. I’m here.