Monday, March 16, 2020
I'm sharing a message from Professor Janet Thompson Jackson of Washburn School of Law for all of us in this period of social distancing. Feel free to share it with your students or incorporate it into your own mindfulness meditation.
This is a very stressful and uncertain time. None of us has lived through anything like this before. You may be feeling scared or you may be unconcerned or you may be somewhere in the middle. However you are feeling is okay. I suggest you sit with your feelings for a bit and then ask yourself if where you are emotionally is serving you and others in a helpful way.
If you find yourself in a constant state of panic or worry, that is likely lowering your immune system, which is not what you want right now. Feeling some anxiety in a time of uncertainty is normal, but it’s good to make an effort to move out of that state. Try making a daily list of good things that happened during the day, even small things like laughing at a movie or show. Keeping a gratitude list helps us to shift perspective.
Or, you may be unconcerned and think that everyone is overreacting. That, too, is a legitimate feeling. It's good to realize, though, that your reaction may be your own response to stress. This might be a good time to extend some grace and compassion to others, including yourself. Everyone is pretty much doing the best they can under the circumstances. Maybe demonstrating a sense of calm without any criticism is just what someone else needs right now. You also may want to take some time to donate to an organization that is working to help people who are living in the margins and are particularly challenged at this time.
You may find yourself somewhere in between. You may vacillate between the extremes, but are able to come back to the middle most of the time. A good way to keep your equilibrium is to look for ways you can be of service. Is there someone you know who doesn’t do well with social isolation who could use a call or text (or even better, FaceTime or other video chat)?
Here are some other ideas to help stay emotionally and physically healthy in uncertain times:
- Meditate. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sitting or laying down and focusing on your breathing will work. Or stare at a candle for a few minutes or listen to calming music. Even 5 minutes of mindfulness helps. Try it a couple times a day, like in the morning and before bed. The effects last longer than you would think.
- Give your devices a break. Isolation sometimes makes us even more attached to our devices, especially when we’re trying to keep up with the fast changing news. Try planning a time during the day or evening when you will not be on any device for an hour if possible. If that seems too long start with 15 min and work your way up.
- Laugh. Find a funny movie, book, song — anything that makes you laugh. Laughing is good medicine.
- Read something uplifting. Give the news a break and pick up a book that makes you feel good.
- Move. The gym may not be a good idea right now, but you can work out, dance, do yoga or other
movement at home.
- Be kind. Just be kind to yourself and others.
- Sleep. Now is a great time to catch up.