World Health Day falls on the 7th April each year and this year’s theme is to support our Nurses and other health workers. I stood on my balcony on Thursday 26th March at 8pm, like most of my neighbours and the emotional response to the cheering and clapping in support of our NHS health service which was truly humbling.
There is a growing sense of anxiety and vulnerability as we are all in lockdown. Never in most of our histories, have we seen a virus bring the world to an almost complete standstill. Like most of us, I have total gratitude for the hard work our doctors, nurses, health care workers and other frontline workers including our refuse collectors, grocery shop assistants and people that deliver our post, who continue to provide services to us in the face of Corona Virus. The fact that they have to turn down the volume of their own fear of contracting COVID-19 to go to work every day is breath taking. They are working non-stop across the world to medically and emotionally support those affected by COVID-19. Each of us are impacted by the anxiety and vulnerability the virus brings. Most likely those on the frontline will face vicarious trauma from the burn out that will follow this pandemic.
Most of all as a human global community we have to stand together to beat this virus. Our professional and personal lives move online, as the fear is ingrained on us as the numbers affected rise. We have to keep a two-metre distance from family, friends, neighbours and strangers, unless we live with them. The community response and spirit that is developing in this dark time is amazing. Perhaps this spirit does not need to end when we have beat the war on this particular virus. Perhaps we can learn from this to empathise more with other more stigmatising viruses that affect the few and not the many. For me this is not the first time that I have been frightened of a virus, so I am needing to take care of myself whilst memories have come flooding back.
I do a morning meditation with myself or with others every day to help ground myself. On my 10-minute walk each day I smile at each person I see, as you can see the fear in people’s faces. As their internal or external enquiry and fear of am I or you a carrier becomes conscious. Never has human contact been so scary and most of us need to feel human contact. This supports us regulate our neurological system properly and also helps us to feel like someone in our life is holding us in the world. I look forward to cuddling those I love soon. I miss this intimacy and it feels like it suddenly has been taken away from us.
For the introvert and for the extrovert this time can be anxiety provoking. For the introvert they may have developed more coping skills to be alone and feel less anxious with the need to self-isolate. For the extrovert they may feel more fearful as they may find this oppressive and even suffocating. I am seeing this time as a way of slowing down our lives. For those with disabilities, learning support needs or those who may be seen as more vulnerable within society, they may find using our modern technology more anxiety provoking. If this describes someone you know perhaps look out for them more. Still in 2020 some are not privileged enough to have access to modern technology, or a telephone, so are facing this time in solitude. When someone you love goes quiet at this time do not assume that they are okay. This is the time to reach out to them. For couples, singles and families who may struggle relationally with being so close together or so far apart due to self-isolation know there are services within the community like mine to emotionally support you during this time.
This is the time to search deep within and feel gratitude for the privileges we may take for granted in life. Most of all we need to hold on to our faith, hope and spirit whether we believe in a higher spirit or not. If that supports and sees us through, then perhaps develop a conversation with it. Show ourselves some love, compassion and think of some ways to provide some self-care.
My services have moved online throughout this pandemic and Joel Korn Psychotherapy continues to offer a sliding scale of fees depending on what you can afford to ensure that my services remain accessible. For NHS front line workers (within the initial session I will ask for identification), I offer a limited 6-session course of therapy free of charge to daytime appointments between 10am to 2pm. I will provide you trauma first aid and coping techniques, so you feel more able to develop better resilience to get through this difficult time.
Remember that you do not have to get through the pandemic on your own. Treat each day as it comes, as they say in recovery “accept what you cannot change; have the courage to change the things which you can; and have the wisdom to know the difference”. Let us all be safe and keep well, with gratitude and love.