YMCA - Why Not?
Take a Breath

Take a breath (during the COVID-19 crisis)

Words by Georgie 28 VIC

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

Never has there been a greater need for hugs, ironically in a time where no hugs are allowed!

We have well and truly passed the point of: “shit- this is actually really bad”.

‘Uncertainty’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘panic’, ‘crisis’, ‘a crazy dream’ – are all things we’re reading on a daily basis from reputable news sources, plastered across social media and hearing from our selfless friends in the health sector. When someone coughs or splutters, we’re either politely holding our breath or blatantly diving for cover. It’s hit us all.

Are we seeing the best of humanity or the worst? Should we be a glass half full, or glass half empty?

Yes, the toilet paper saga continues and riots in the supermarket leave us feeling shameful as a nation. Even our less than perfect PM has risen up to address this situation with his “Stop hoarding, just stop it!” blasting across Australia. Scomo has urged Australians to “Give each other a break” -finally some sound advice from our mate in marketing.

There are too many reasons to feel helpless at the minute, so for the sake of this short read – let’s focus on the ups.

  • Some grandparents are receiving unprecedented phone calls! I spoke to my Nan for the hundredth time this week and she said, “Yes love I’m fine, phone hasn’t stopped bloody ringing – you reckon I could get some peace!?”
  • Many dogs are getting double walks… Australia’s pets are in better shape than ever before. After two walks already, my dog had the audacity to drag her lead over to me for a third crack yesterday.
  • We’re finally finding out how many of those work meetings should’ve been emails. At the moment I don’t even get an email – just a two-line text. At last meeting culture has been busted open – it may even be changed forever.
  • The lock downs all over the world have seen significant dips in pollution and have animals’ high fiving! I read somewhere there are dolphins back in the Venice canals – and penguins are freely roaming the Chicago Aquarium visiting their marine friends after it closed to the public.

On a serious note, we can see collaboration from various sectors (that would normally never talk to one another) uniting and making collective decisions for the good of Australians. I’m proud to say CEOs in my organisation are working for free in order to re-direct funds to support staff wages.

Vulnerability has been met with compassion in a new wave of leadership I’ve never witnessed before. My CEO reminded me this week; confidence is the antidote to fear. I’m not talking about ignorance or arrogance. I’m talking about being sensible, informed and leading with confidence.

This theory doesn’t just apply in the workforce either. My partner is a professional athlete, he’s lost his job for the foreseeable future (many events were to be held in Italy and broader Europe). He has started work supporting an arborist- 3 days a week and taken an 80% pay cut. He’s stoked he’s got some work at the minute and claims “I’m ahead of the curve – getting on the tools”.

Only 8 weeks ago when we were both healthily employed, we bought our first home, now our settlement inches closer and mortgage repayments loom.

I must ask him daily – “You think we’ll be okay?”

Confidently, he grins and says, “Yeah we’ll be sweet – don’t stress”.

Even though I often don’t always believe him (rolling my eyes, we are absolutely not “sweet”), I’m grateful he’s taken the lead to deescalate, be calm and confident.

Panic and fear won’t change our current situation – we, like everyone else are already doing everything we can.

Only yesterday he applied for a pharmaceutical pick/packer job in a warehouse, excited that the 2am starts might allow him to squeeze a surf in at his secret spot in the afternoons. Honestly – sometimes his glass half full mentality is really annoying.

So, what should we all do now?

I know there are people really hurting – vulnerable people in our communities need support and we need to find a way to provide it more quickly today and tomorrow than we did yesterday. It can be easy to spiral and feel low – especially if you’re refreshing The Guardian and ABC app as often as I am.

So, focus on keeping your own wellbeing in check. Why? Because you can’t pour from an empty cup and we all have a social responsibility to support one another (globally) as best we can.

Be kind – Be kind to everyone, spread kindness quicker than coronavirus is spreading. Ask the lady in the deli at Coles how she’s doing. When you cancel your flights and the travel consultant says, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Say yes there is – “how are you going?”. Kindness really matters right now.

Social distancing – Follow the government recommendations around social distancing – it’s the right thing to do and we will save lives if we all do it. Don’t be that peanut at Bondi Beach in a cast of thousands and end up on the news.

Eat well – Many of us have involuntarily become vegetarian (we can’t even get our mitts on a lonely chicken breast at the moment) – on the upside, at least it’s good for the planet. Support local businesses if you can afford it by ordering in, or check out great recipes with only 4 ingredients – cheap, nutritious and easy.

Get moving- Exercise in your lounge room or head outside and run/walk in a secluded area. There are many virtual classes online for free (or donation if you can). Science tells us exercise helps keep our immune system strong and our mental wellbeing in check

Mindfulness – You don’t have to be at the Dalai Lama’s level of meditation practice but taking a few slow deep breaths even for 30 seconds will help calm your racing mind – so give it a whirl. *Get the Headspace app – I rate it.

Keep up the daily routine – Adjusting to the new normal quickly is important. Whether you’re working from home or not – set an alarm and wake up with purpose. Get out of your PJ’s, eat a proper breakfast and schedule facetime coffee catch ups with friends. Try and set daily and weekly goals for work and wellbeing.

*I know this sounds like repetitive, fitspo injected advice – but keeping up the mundane will help reduce the stress and anxiety you feel from the unknown.

Remember this…

  • Our grandparents and great grandparents show us and can tell us stories of how people have banded together before and made it through the Great Depression and the World Wars.
  • China and Singapore are showing promising signs and are beginning to make their way out the other side.
  • If nothing else, there will be positive bi-products from the world turning upside down. We will become a more resilient and innovative global community. We will become more agile and in better stead to face the inevitable challenges of the future, particularly in relation to our other greatest hurdle – climate change.  

One step at a time. One breath at a time even. This is not our forever, it’s just our right now. Don’t look weeks ahead – focus on the present and what you can control today.

Sit tight and lastly, remember you’re not alone. We’re all just a Facetime away. <3

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