When times are really tough it’s easy to yell at the universe “Why is this happening to me?” There’s no doubt times are tough now, perhaps the toughest since the Second World War. The daily fear and disruption to life brought about by the war is only in the living memory now of people in their 80’s and 90’s. They made it through and they’re a pretty tough bunch. I’m guessing they didn’t feel like the war was happening to them. They felt the world was at war and they had to survive as best they could. This pandemic can be viewed the same way. Covid is not happening to you. The whole planet is being challenged by a new virus and people must survive as best they can.

It’s not easy to live with the discomfort of not knowing what’s going to happen next. It’s not easy being inconvenienced both financially, with uncertain job security and in terms of our freedom to move about as we please and enjoy the lifestyle we are used to. Now is the time to ask for help, to make or reignite connections with people who can lift you up, whether that’s emotionally, spiritually or even financially. Years ago when I visited Ubud in Bali I was astounded to hear that homelessness was a foreign concept to them. When someone has no home, someone else will always make a place for them in their family compound no matter what. I was blown away by this selfless culture.

If you are struggling, however that may be, remember that in Australia help doesn’t always come looking for you – sometimes you just have to ask. Aussies mostly get embarrassed asking for help and are reluctant to offer it in case they offend. If you know someone else who is struggling, make a move to help them. You know what they need – maybe it’s as simple as a zoom chat with a friendly face. Maybe they need money and you have some to share. If you are lucky enough to still have your job and are getting paid, help someone out who hasn’t. Maybe you can pay for their daughter’s Physie lessons. Maybe you can recommend a good counsellor to a friend in need or even pay for one. Maybe it’s time to support that homeless shelter you’ve been thinking about for a while… If this has stirred up something unsettling in your belly, it means there’s something you need to do. So do it. Whether it’s ASK or OFFER.

If you’re looking to build up your resilience to the stressors of the pandemic, have a read of Susie Burrell’s blog about developing mental toughness in which she talks about the ways we respond when faced with stress, pressure and challenge in life. https://susieburrell.com.au/mental-toughness/

If you’re looking for some calm, try downloading a free trial of the Headspace app at headspace.com

And there are many other wonderful free apps for deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness and meditation too.

If you’re looking for connection (particularly if you live alone and are in lockdown) I recommend meeting a friend or relative for a walk or exercise session at a park. If you’re not into physical activity at all, meet them anyway and do some seated deep breathing together, while listening for bird sounds. The next best thing to face-to-face connection is of course zoom or facetime. Schedule it in because it’s so easy to forget and let’s face it, texts and emails just don’t cut it. Even talking on the phone has nowhere near the same value as talking to someone when you can see their facial expressions. Here’s 2 great ideas I heard of recently at the dog park … where all the best ideas come from…

ZOOM TRIVIA NIGHT

Each person (or pair) creates 10 questions. You answer everyone else’s questions and add up your marks (you get zero for your own questions). No mobiles, googling or brains trusts. Mark your own answers – honour system. No prizes, just lots of fun. Takes about 90 minutes with 5 rounds of questions, including breaks.

ZOOM TALENT QUEST

Get all the extended family (or friends) together on a zoom meeting and each person has to perform one item. Could be a physie routine, a dance, play a musical instrument, recite a poem, tell a joke, do a magic trick, do a strength move or stand on your head! No limits to the imagination and everyone gets to participate whether it’s granny or the youngest in the family.

All this reminds me of the “olden days” when the family would gather around the piano to sing songs in the good times or gather around the ‘wireless’ (radio) to listen to the war report in the bad times. Whoever your family and friends are, you need them now. We all need each other. Let’s not forget sometimes to turn the tv off, talk to a human being and remind each other that we are not alone, we will survive and this is happening to ALL of us.

Jackie Rawlings