The 5 ‘G’s for Getting Through the Virus
I was thinking this morning that I needed a way to stay centered and as positive as possible over the next several months. And if the last several days are any indication, it will be extremely challenging for all of us. For those who know my work, I often use alliterative lists to help me remember things that are important to me and my work. I have now come up with a tool similar to my 6 “P”s and 7 “L”s that I have written before on, and came up with:
“The 5 ‘G’s for Getting Through the Virus”.
These ‘G’s’ are five qualities that I think could be extremely helpful to embody and practice over the next several months. I like the simplicity of the model and I find it very easy to recall and remember. You might find that much of these insights express similar sentiments found throughout my frameworks as I continue to share with others what I have found and believe to be powerful tools to help us live the best life we can. Now as we face the significant adversity of the Coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead, perhaps these tools can help us stay more grounded and to guard against some of the unexpected psychological stress and potential trauma. In using the 5 ‘G’s, it has helped immensely in quieting myself down in this rather hectic atmosphere and drawing my attention towards things I can do rather than worrying about what might affect me in the future. So here goes:
· The first ‘G’ is for Grace.
We don’t know what fears, anxieties and concerns the people that we encounter are having. Some may have family members that are immunocompromised while others may be forced to work from home when their home life is not in a great place. There are a million other possibilities that could create stress in our lives. So, while you may have to keep your distance from others, give them and yourself some grace. Understand that the entire human race is going through a challenging time right now and we need to be as empathetic and compassionate with one another as we can be. Essentially, let’s just all cut each other some slack during this time. This seems evident but a lot of us need the reminder. So, when you’re interacting with others, keep in mind that we are all experiencing some level of difficulty and give each other some grace. Life will be a lot easier if we see ourselves as being on the same side in responding to the virus and its effects.
· The second ‘G’ is for Gratitude.
It may be harder to find what we are grateful for in these trying circumstances, but I know from my own experience that if I look hard enough for the good, I will find it in spades. And when you can’t find big things to be grateful for, you can find it in the small things. Yesterday I was able to spend most of the day with my 18-month old grandson and 4-year-old granddaughter. I tried to be as present as possible to them and I am very grateful for that. I was reminded that one of my daughters lives a block away from me and one of my others lives approximately 8 miles from me. That’s a blessing. They are grown-ups and have families of their own but having them close during these turbulent times is a blessing. My youngest daughter lives in Brooklyn and uses Facetime every day to check in with us and that’s a blessing. My son lives in rural Oregon and I lament not seeing and talking to him more. But I am grateful that he and my eldest grandson are healthy. The grocery stores are still open and while there is no toilet paper and lots of other shortages, there was plenty of food to buy. That’s a blessing. Our granddaughter and grandson slept at our house last night and woke up relatively late this morning. That’s a blessing and I try to count as many as I can. When I am in a place of gratitude, it is extremely difficult to be in a place of great distress and fear. Try to reflect on gratitude throughout your day and if the spirit moves you, share that gratitude with others.
· The third ‘G’ is for Generosity.
Not only should we render grace to ourselves and others, but I strongly believe that one of the best antidotes to feelings of fear and anxiousness is to be a giver to others in these times of distress. I would imagine that many organizations cannot survive without the generosity of time and support from others. Perhaps this is a good time to ask others if you can help and pitch in where needed - as when we do for others, we do for ourselves in an even larger measure. Being generous of your time, attention, talent, and treasure won’t stop the virus from spreading, but it will keep your spirits high and your heart filled. So, what are some ways you can give of yourself at this time? You can start by simply checking in with people in your life, especially those who are high-risk, who may be feeling anxious or lonely or who may need help with picking up groceries or running an errand. Donate to an organization that provides services to the most vulnerable populations. Support small businesses online. When safe, consider volunteering. Meal delivery organizations like Open Hand Atlanta need help packing and delivering meals to deliver to their clients, all of whom cannot leave their homes due to being at great risk for the coronavirus. I am signed up to give blood tomorrow as there was a note on our Nextdoor app indicating a potential shortage. I’m sure there are countless other ways we can help others and, in doing so, feel a little less discouraged about the current state of things.
· The fourth ‘G’ is for Get Moving
Get Moving is the 7th habit from my book, “You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have: Creating The Seven Habits That Make A Remarkable Life” and it is more relevant than ever at a time when our usual habits have been upended. Research has shown that movement is unbelievably important to longevity and quality of life. So how do we keep moving when gyms and studios have closed, and mobility has been restricted? Personally, I’ve been making sure to get extra miles on my stationary bike. Of course, having a stationary bike is a privilege, but there are many other ways we can get our bodies moving. Our local YMCA has been offering HIIT classes on Zoom, my daughter’s yoga studio has made many of their classes available online and I have found countless circuit training guides for working out at home. If you have kids, get them to join! My grandson loves a good dance party and trying out some yoga moves with his mom. There are plenty of ways to work up a sweat. Until they tell us differently, I continue to take walks around my neighborhood and if that has to stop, I will keep walking in my limited living space. Setting aside some time every day to focus on ourselves is vital at a time when we could really use the physical and mental benefits of staying active and support a healthy immune system. Just this morning, as I read some more disappointing world news, working out was also a wonderful distraction and when finished, I felt better, less anxious and calmer.
· The final ‘G’ is for Goodness.
None of us know how long the virus will wreak havoc on our society. Many of us are having our worlds completely turned upside down. Schools and daycare facilities shut down. Planes flying empty. Hotels are completely vacant. Every sports league in the country stopped. All vacations and gatherings stopped. Over the next several weeks we will see if the number of people infected by the virus grows exponentially or gets under control. This is the time to step up to being as kind, thoughtful and helpful to others as possible. I also believe when you do good things for others, you send out ripples of goodness that don’t just affect the person you do good for, but for those they may come into contact with and so on. I believe we are all interrelated and while I can’t save the whole world, by doing something good for another person, I save a piece of it and that thought is a soothing one. There is great neuro research that when we render kindness to another person, our brains emit positive neurotransmitters that actually help us be happier but also help our brains and bodies be healthier. That may be one of the most important things we can do to get through these trying times. Viktor Frankl wrote one of the most amazing books after surviving the trauma of the Holocaust, “Man’s Search for Meaning” and the quote that I have often reflected on perhaps has become even more important for us to hear and reflect on as we get through the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way." May the 5 “G”s provide you with a simple tool to support your efforts to choose your attitude in these trying times.