Trite but true: these are unprecedented times; nerve-wracking, unchartered territory nobody living has ever experienced. Perhaps there are a few still living who can recall the 2nd World War. Canada, by and large, was not significantly impacted by this war. Furthermore, unlike World War II, we are dealing with an invisible foe—a virus for which there is no cure, not yet.
COVID-19, this invisible enemy, has suddenly and dramatically changed every aspect of our lives—socially, personally, professionally—for the foreseeable future and possibly, to some degree or another, forever.
At the beginning of this pandemic, perhaps many were enthralled by the novelty of these historic circumstances. The novelty, though, was fleeting. Quiet desperation has supplanted novelty. Now, we are left with a bleak landscape (both social and economic) fraught with uncertainty. Tensions rise, burgeoning anxiety and depression taking their toll. Life is becoming one big question mark: will this pandemic ever end; will life ever return to a semblance of normalcy; will I have a job; will I be able to provide for my family, etc.?
It does not behoove me to offer advice on how to cope during these harrowing times, for I am as angst-ridden as any of you. I can only tell you what works for me.
I have adopted the mantra, “Keep Calm and Carry On” --a motivational slogan produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. Panicking is counter-productive.
Platitudinous, perhaps, but there is much to be said about living one’s life ‘one day at a time’. People (myself included) expend much life force thinking about and regretting the past; or, focusing and worrying about the future. This is wasted energy. The past is the past and one cannot change it. The future will be what it will be. What is important is the here and now. Right now, are you safe? Do you have a place to sleep, food to eat, friends and loved ones with whom you can connect? Right here, right now, are you okay? If so, one can be grateful.
Gratitude: I try to be grateful for what I can. Just for instance, we all can be grateful that we live in a civilized society. We can be grateful for a government that is doing everything it can to mitigate the effects of this pandemic on our lives.
I try to get out of my own mind. How I do that is by seeing how I can help others. Helping others can amount to phone calls: checking on friends, for example, just to say ‘hi’ and ‘how are you doing’. For me, getting out of my angst-ridden mind is a blessing. If I am concerned about others and trying to help others, I think less about my own plight...
Blake R. Lyngseth, Ottawa lawyer & mediator. Blogs primarily on issues of Ontario & Canadian family law & estate law.