Historically when one thinks Delta Blues they think of musicians like Robert Johnson and one of the earliest-known styles of Blues music here in the States. But as COVID cases rise again, and the majority of those cases are of the Delta variant, and many are already feeling anxiety about potential new waves, hospital utilization, impact on schools come Fall, and countless other issues. This is to be expected. During times like this it may be a good idea to return to some of the basic coping skills we learned early in the pandemic.
- F = Focus on what’s in your control – You cannot control what others think, believe, or do. You can, however, control things your diet, your exercise, your sleep behaviors. You can turn to reliable sources about COVID.
- A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings – Thoughts and feelings tend to pop up automatically, almost like any other reflex. We can, however, manage our response to them once they show up and that starts with acknowledging them. Acknowledge them as normal responses to an abnormal situation. Here is an exercise to help you with this.
- C = Come back into your body – Many times these distressing thoughts and feelings we have about COVID or anything else are treated like actual, physical threats. Sometimes it is a good idea to bring our attention back to our body, to help our brain understand what is actually going on around us in this moment. You can learn how to do this via Grounding Techniques as explained here.
- E = Engage in what you’re doing – As above, often our goal is to keep our attention on what is here, and what is now. We can often benefit from keeping that attention on activities that are important to us. You can learn more about this from the author of FACE COVID Russ Harris.
- C = Committed action – Committed action means effective action, guided by your core values; action you take because it’s truly important to you; action you take even if it brings up difficult thoughts and feelings. Once you have dropped anchor using the above methods you will have a lot of control over your actions – so this makes it easier to do the things that truly matter. What are simple ways to look after yourself, those you live with, and those you can realistically help? What kind, caring, supportive deeds you can do? Can you say some kind words to someone in distress – in person or via a phone call or text message? Can you help someone out with a task or a chore, or cook a meal, or hold someone’s hand, or play a game with a young child? Can you comfort and soothe someone who is sick? Or in the most serious of cases, nurse them and access whatever medical assistance is available?
- O = Opening up – Opening up means making room for difficult feelings and being kind to yourself. Difficult feelings are guaranteed to keep on showing up as this crisis unfolds: fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and many more. We can’t stop them from arising; they’re normal reactions. But we can open up and make room for them: acknowledge they are normal, allow them to be there (even though they hurt), and treat ourselves kindly. You can learn more about Developing Self-Compassion here.
- V = Values – Committed action should be guided by your core values: What do you want to stand for in the face of this crisis? What sort of person do you want to be, as you go through this? How do you want to treat yourself and others? Your values might include love, respect, humour, patience, courage, honesty, caring, openness, kindness …. or numerous others. Look for ways to ‘sprinkle’ these values into your day. Let them guide and motivate your committed action.
- I = Identify resources – Identify resources for help, assistance, support, and advice. This includes friends, family, neighbours, health professionals, emergency services. And make sure you know the emergency helpline phone numbers, including psychological help if required. Also reach out to your social networks. And if you are able to offer support to others, let them know; you can be a resource for other people, just as they can for you. One very important aspect of this process involves finding a reliable and trustworthy source of information for updates on the crisis and guidelines for responding to it. The World Health Organisation website is the leading source of such information.
- D = Disinfect & distance – I’m sure you already know this, but it’s worth repeating: disinfect your hands regularly and practice as much social distancing as realistically possible, for the greater good of your community. And remember, we’re talking about physical distancing – not cutting off emotionally. If you aren’t quite sure about what this means, read this. This is an important aspect of committed action, so align it deeply with your values; recognise that these are truly caring actions.