“To open or not to open, that is the question.” Shakespeare is probably rolling in his grave at my lamentable misuse of his famous “To be or not to be” but these days “To open or not to open” IS the question. And it is driving most of us absolutely crazy.
It was one thing to engage our patience and try to make the best of our altered way of life during the first months of the pandemic, but it’s another now that we realize that the end is not in sight and that we don’t know how much longer our patience must endure (along with no jobs, no schooling, etc.). Some of us resent masks, some of us swear by them; some think social distancing is ridiculous, others shy away from their fellow humans by far more than 6 feet. Regardless of our respective preferences, none of us are having a good time, and most of us are downright miserable.
But here’s the thing. Whether the current state of affairs has you scared to death, hopping mad, or swirling into depression, the only thing you achieve with your fear, rage or angst is potentially damaging your cardiovascular system and most certainly your immune system.
You see, our thoughts and emotions trigger certain chemicals in our brains, which then, through an intricate network of neurotransmitters, send messages to our body that impact every system in our bodies: our hormonal system, our cardiovascular system, our immune system, our gastrointestinal system and more. When our thoughts and consequent emotions are strongly negative (fear, rage, anger, despair), our bodies suffer.
What to do? Cool your jets. An expression from back in the 1970s that referred to the need for jet engines to cool off after a flight seems very appropriate today. Why? Because once you’ve taken whatever practical measures you believe are best for your health and well-being, the best thing you can do to assure your survival (mental, emotional and physical) is to let go of your negative emotions and focus on whatever is working in your life.
Easier said than done? No doubt. A fool’s errand? No. I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand and pretending all is well. It isn’t. But you can practice mindfulness (easy to do, lots of Internet help), meditation (let Google come to the rescue), whatever faith makes sense to you. You can journal or exercise, both prime ways of releasing Negative Emotions. Then you’ll have more head space to focus on what is working in your life, how you might make that better, what other resources or support you can explore.
Cool your jets. You’ll function better, feel better, and in the end, get through these demanding, exasperating, frustrating times better.