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  • Susan Keeler

Coronavirus Emotional First Aid

Hello unprecedented COVID-19 world! How is everyone doing? Since so much is unknown, I’ve decided to just assume I am infected and am living life accordingly. In other words, like many people I’m staying home and “socially-distancing” from others.

But being alone with oneself, and being with the unknown, can be scary experiences. Having the two happen together is really a double-whammy! For the next week or so, let’s take a journey through some mindfulness tools that can help you cultivate a sense of safety.

In general, if you’re really feeling shaky, it’s good to focus on the here-and-now, especially if you focus externally. Or as the latest book-for-therapists I’m reading* puts it: “…if a patient is having difficulty tolerating the intensity of his or affect [aka emotions] or is feeling overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts or images, choosing ‘external’ objects of attention…can provide an experience of grounding or safety without intensifying awareness of challenging ‘inner’ contents”.

So friends, the first Coronavirus First Aid tool I’d like to offer you is this: Go outside and take a walk, and while you’re walking, pay attention to what you hear. When you find yourself worrying or having scary thoughts, remind yourself again to listen to what’s around you. Is that a bird? Is that car sound off in the distance? What do the leaves on the ground sound like when you walk on them? Can you hear yourself breathing as you are walking up the hill? What happens to the breathing sound when the hill gets steeper?

You get the picture. So that’s it my friends, our first Corona anti-anxiety antidote: take a walk and listen. Report back.

* Pollak, Susan M, Thomas Pedulla, and Ronald D Siegal. 2016. Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

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