Coronavirus Disease COVID-19: trying to keep sane

The Chaos of the World Has Entered our Individual "Worlds"

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last several weeks, you've begun to notice all the negativity, stress, and fear going around as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here in Omaha, we are starting to see more and more effects enter each of our individual lives. We're stressed. We're fearful. We don't have the answers.

That said, we don't want this fear and stress to overwhelm us. We aim to have a healthy fear that causes us to take the appropriate actions (which we are doing to keep people as safe as possible in our office). But in order for that fear to not enter into an unhealthy state, we feel that we need to surround ourselves with as much encouragement as possible. Enter this series of blog posts!

"In order for that fear to not enter into an unhealthy state, we feel that we need to surround ourselves with as much encouragement as possible"

Why Are We Doing This?

So this is as much for ourselves as others. But we want to do this publicly, just in case others can get some benefit from our coping mechanism: we are trying to surround ourselves with as much encouragement to counteract the unhealthy fears and negativity that it is so easy to fall in. So feel free to share these blog posts to your friends and family, as we all can lean on each other to get through this difficult time. We will try to push out this content as frequently as we can, because the world can use encouragement now more than ever. I hope you enjoy the first blog in this series!

Keeping Your Head Above Water

At our office, we try very hard to add songs to our office playlist that you'll hear over the speakers in the optical and waiting areas that are positive and encouraging. This is very intentional, we feel like (as a team) if we have positive content flowing into our lives, that we are more likely to outflow positivity and kindness to our patients and customers. I think we can see this more clearly in the opposite direction: have you ever noticed in your life that when you have negative influences surrounding you, you occasionally begin to "slip" and mimic those negative behaviors? I firmly believe that positive influences can have the exact same effect!

Anyway, as a result one song that we've added to the playlist and really love lately is a new Avril Lavigne song (yeah you probably haven't heard about her in years!). If you were familiar with her music back years ago, "positive and encouraging" probably wouldn't be the way you would describe it! However she came out with a song called "Head Above Water" that deals with her struggle facing Chronic Lyme Disease, which actually is something that my own grandmother has been fighting for years. I've seen first hand now much of a battle it can be, and I've seen incredible strength in my grandmother in light of a completely horrid situation.

I think this song accurately reflects that battle, and it can provide encouragement in the middle of the current environment we find ourselves in. Here's a YouTube video of the song if you'd like to listen to it.

How Does A Song Help Us?

As I listen to this song a few of the lyrics really stand out to me.

Yeah my life is what I’m fighting for
Can’t part the sea
Can’t reach the shore
And my voice becomes the driving force
I won’t let this pull me overboard

God keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown It gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown
Don’t let me drown

From this I'm reminded of the following in our current situation, these are guarantees:

  • We are all going to be affected by this pandemic outbreak, whether we end up getting sick or not. Our lives are going to be disrupted. But through it all, we can still fight the inner battle within our souls to not let the fear overtake us.
    (Lyrics: "my life is what I'm fighting for")
  • Individually, we have very little control in this situation, even in the cases of high level leaders.
    (Lyrics: "Can’t part the sea / Can’t reach the shore")
  • That said, we do have some control over our own voice—and our inner voice, which might be more important—in which we can influence how we are affected by situations outside of our control, but only if we become congnizant of it.
    (Lyrics: "And my voice becomes the driving force / I won’t let this pull me overboard")

Ponder the following statement:

When you're losing the battle within your soul, you lose the ability to see the beauty in the world around you.

Conversely, when you start losing the ability to see the good around you, it may be indicative that you are losing the battle within you—maybe without even knowing it.

That hits me hard, like a ton of bricks. Now, I'll say that many of us who work at ModernEyes would consider ourselves people of faith, and so for just a second I want to speak to those of you who also identify that way. If you don't, feel free to skip ahead to the "Thankfulness Challenge" below!

For people of faith, this song continues to go deeper, and as a result we are reminding ourselves to have a similar response as Avril does in her song, running to God and allowing His strength to bolster our own in this situation. We truly believe that He can help provide peace that is somewhat unexplainable in times of hardship. That said, it's a two-way street, and we have to lean into Him and be ready to receive it, or else what He makes available does not have any impact in our lives. It's like a Tax Credit, the government may make it available, but until you claim it on your taxes, you're not going to get that money back! In any case, for those of you that are people of faith, I want to encourage you to "lean in" (as I'm typing this I'm encouraging myself to do the same).

Thankfulness Challenge

Regardless of if you're a person of faith, I want to challenge you to participate in this activity, right now. List 5 things that you're thankful for. If that's too easy, go for 10! If you feel so inspired, you can come up with a "silly" one too! For example, right now I'm very thankful that the Quesadilla was invented, gooey cheese inside a carb-loaded tortilla, what more could I ask for? Don't judge.

Why do this? Thankfulness in your heart can remind you of the good things that still exist in this world, in spite of uncertainties. Today, look for the good in the things around you! I guarantee you that it will NOT make your day any worse! In fact, it might start to provide a peace to you that those around you cannot understand.

Don't just take our word for it, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley also took a look at this topic, check out that article here:  How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain.

Now, if you take it a step further, you can do this any time you start to feel the stresses begin to overwhelm you. Remind yourself of the good.

Until next time, we wish you peace in this time of chaos.