I hope this finds you at home healthy and in good spirit given the pandemic situation.  Some of us may have gone through various stages of emotional destress experiencing shock, anger, sadness, depression, despair, and dissociation.  Others may have found a way to stay positive and get busy with constructive activities, at least sometimes.  Most of us are experiencing isolation and uncertainty, and some are working really hard taking us through this gloomy period. 

We now are a bit like astronauts or submarine sailors, and they have the benefit of heavy-duty training before they deliberately take off.  We, on the other hand, lack this training but still can benefit from knowing that we are not alone – all of us are in this together.  The response to isolation has stages that reflect our adaptation, and they have a zebra pattern.  And as the isolation lifts, we will experience marginal additions to our liberty of activities in a similar way although in reverse as it is always “give ad take.”

The initial phase of isolation is when we positively express our curiosity about the new situation possibly appreciating less commitments and more rest and slack.  Then, we inevitably slide into destress as a result from various limitations, uncertainties, worries and fears.  Aside from dealing with our companions, the hardest thing may be facing ourselves when we are undone.  Not even to mention the usual work-, bank-, school-, grocery-, doctor-, etc. related problems, some of which will have to be delayed but others must be dealt with on daily basis. 

During the next stage, we lighten up a bit as we, especially our brains and habits, adapt and change reflecting a new paradigm.  At this point, we may reach some comfort in our sorting out through pluses and minuses of the situation and having more or less stable schedule and reasonable productivity and self-sufficiency.  The next and final phase is when we begin approaching the end of the isolation, or at least expecting the end of it.  This last distance is typically very stressful as people lose patience and become anxious and irritable.  Mistakes can be dangerous here.

Bear in mind that prediction of timing and gradual fashion of us lifting social isolation is not precise and is outside of our control until we learn more about the virus and its impact on us.  So, we may have to continue marking our calendars for the floating end date causing ourselves more emotional problems on top of the real-world challenges.  It is a good idea to actually give yourself permission to think and talk through the worst aspects and outcomes during one given day, and then close the subject except for logistical adjustments.  This way, you do not have to re-live the stress of shock on daily basis and spending your time repeating the outcries every day. 

Instead, create a stable schedule allocating time for both necessary activities as well as something out of ordinary that you enjoy.  It can as simple of watching your favorite movie again or baking a cake without a special occasion.  It can also be a more substantial undertaking like learning something new in an online class or creating a garden in your backyard.  One must be careful here and not add more stress to your plate with unnecessary high expectations and overboard ambitions, unless it is your nature and gives you joy.  Simplicity and kindness is paramount.

Make sure to be flexible and generous with your time when it comes to being available for your loved ones.  It is very important to frequently remind yourself to produce your own joy.  I rely on this idea over and over again.  Do not expect someone to make you feel better, if you are not helping yourself.  It will either not work or not last.  Produce joy for yourself and then some more to share with others.  We can also help one another by sharing ideas for cooking, parenting, entertainment, shopping, education, etc., by checking on each frequently and catching up with those we have not spoken in a while, by sharing resources and by making referrals to support those who are still open for business.  For example, I know local suppliers of food, clean skin and hair care, non-toxic cleansing solutions, gardening services, among others, that are working hard supporting us and are looking for new customers.  I also have friends who switched to online platforms in order to continue working and now offer various tutorials and classes online, e.g. Pilates, yoga certification, music, violin, Magic: The Gathering, support and enrichment tutors for kids, and, of course, qigong.  People do want to reach out, get connected and keep going.

On a personal note, I would like to remind you to consider qigong: do the practices that you already know, refine your favorites, and invest time in learning new ones.  Go broader or deeper or both.  Do it alone but do not forget to reach out to someone, as direct human interaction is invaluable in our wellbeing and is very welcome if you feel isolated.  Qigong will help you reduce stress, strengthen your health and immunity, release negative energies, get charged with positive energies, improve emotional health, learn energetic hygiene and self-care, expand your mind-body abilities, and learn a new way to connect with nature through energy during this transformative time.  The skills you learn and the benefits you generate will serve you infinitely well, always.  Besides self-cultivation, qigong can touch any aspect of human life and environment including community and collective consciousness, which now like never are in desperate need for support and improvement.  Each one of us can participate.  Shall we?