I am writing this as I am sitting lake side in Pokhara, Nepal. I arrived here less than a week ago to get settled in and prepare for a retreat trekking the Annapurna Circuit. My friend Natasha and I have been planning it for months, paying for promotion and constantly discussing ways to make it perfect. In the last 3 days the laws on travel have changed so rapidly and we are scrambling to find out what is still possible. We now have to accept that this trek could be canceled and our time and money invested will be in vain. As of right now it is still possible but we are concerned of what is to come.
As with anyone who has had their plans disrupted or had their business take a big hit, we are disappointed and looking for what we can do. What we refuse to do is panic and let it get us down. Sometimes you have to close a door to open a window. By the reaction of the world at large I can see this is not the common response. Fear, panic and disorder are running rampant. Instead of looking for all the things that are going wrong, we must look for all the new opportunities that are coming available and make the best of what we have. We accept that this is out of our control and we must adapt and make the best of this situation. No amount of stress or anger will cause a travel restriction to change.
It is said real suffering comes in the gap between what we want and what we have, not our actual situation. That gratitude turns what we have into enough. I’m hoping to give a different perspective on the current state of the world. This mindset is something I utilized during treatment to turn what was a terrifying and painful situation into the greatest lesson I have ever been taught. I had to use deductive reasoning to think beyond my emotions and fears. The emotions that my diagnosis and treatment would cause would make me believe that what I was feeling was reality and my only option. I knew that I wasn’t thinking clearly with all this stress so I had to find a way to still get the answers I needed without waiting until my health was restored and these feelings had passed. I would break down any disruption in my plan into manageable steps to figure out what could be done.
First, we must ask ourselves if this is something we can change? If so, change it. If we can’t change it, can we influence it towards an intended goal or direction we would like it to go? If we can’t change it or influence it the only option is to accept it and make the best of it. Constantly comparing our current situation to where we want to be will only cause more unnecessary pain and discomfort. Is your vacation plan out of the country canceled? Take a road trip somewhere in nature and enjoy the peace and quiet. Is your business taking a loss? Look for side hustles and consider volunteering time to help others in greater need. Use this time to your advantage. Plan out your next vacation or how you want to grow your business, read a book, practice mindfulness, reorganize your house, finish small tasks you have been putting off, do some yard work or so many other options. Don't just sit there and think about all the things you currently cannot do. Use this time wisely.
These basic questions of can I change it, can I influence it, or do I need to accept it and move on will help bring clarity to what you can do in your situation. They may not give you a clear answer but they can assist in finding the direction you need to go. Our bodies create fear and stress to make us aware and alert when making decisions in a perceived time of danger. Inaction and negativity will only cause these signals to get louder and more disruptive, reinforcing the feelings we are trying to gain control over. Consider your options, make the best of it, and move into action.
When I was diagnosed, I had to stop and ask myself what I can actually do about this. Do I lay in bed all day and let it cripple me? Or can I start making small steps in getting my health and well-being back under control? I couldn’t make cancer just go away and there was no clear answer to the best way of getting rid of it. But I knew constant and consistent small steps would get me to my final destination of health.
This can be applied to our current situation with the corona virus. What we are all getting a taste of is something that cancer patients have already felt and understand. This can be a loss of our health, freedom and ultimately our way of life. It can be short-term or long lasting, only time will tell. That one day we feel fine and the next day the world as we know it is upside down and almost unrecognizable. Don’t let panic take over and cloud your judgement. Don’t give up responsibility to make the best of whatever situation has been laid on your doorstep. Whatever we focus on we will see more of, strengthening our belief that what we are feeling is reality and the ultimate truth. If you are looking for things to be scared or upset about, you will have no issue finding them. At the same time, if you look for things to feel positive and happy, they are very easy to find. What are you working to strengthen?
There are some basic things we can all do to make our bodies as strong as possible to fight off this virus if we were to get infected. We need to have our immune system as strong as possible to fight off this virus. Try to keep it simple and don’t overthink it. We need good nutrition so our diet should be mostly vegetables and fruits with a mixture of colors. Try and get as much sunlight and fresh air as possible. This is not just good for the body but also for the mind. Nature truly is the best medicine. Stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep for our bodies to cleanse and heal itself. Keep good hygiene and clean your hands often, especially before eating. If you are not able to leave the house, this is a perfect time to begin or strengthen your yoga and meditation practice. It’s also a great time to try deep breathwork and taking cold showers.
There are many things to avoid as well, the biggest being unnecessary stress. Stress throws off every function of the body. It inhibits our sleep, causes digestion to work less efficiently, and overall makes our immune systems weaker. The biggest cause of stress and misinformation currently is the news. Avoid watching all the sensational news that spreads panic and instead get your information from a credible source like the CDC and World Health Organization, which you can find online. With people fearing the worst there is a lot of hoarding of nonperishable foods. While these can come in useful if we are in a total lockdown, they should only be used as a last resort and not while we still have access to fresh food. Highly processed foods lack nutrients and can cause serious disease. Soft drinks, alcohol, and dairy should all be removed or at least highly restricted, especially during these times when we are trying to keep our immune systems functioning as high as possible.
This may not be what we want but it is our reality. Now it is time to ask ourselves some simple questions. Can I change this? Can I influence this? Do I need to accept this and move on? Do what you can to protect yourself, give your body what it needs to strengthen and heal itself, extend help to those in need, be kind, be patient, and for god’s sake stop hoarding all the fucking toilet paper.