People are suffering increasing stress with COVD-19 the longer it goes on, and it appears that it will last for quite a while until a vaccine is hopefully produced.

The thought that this situation will go on for perhaps years, or for ever, creates huge uncertainty and confusion.

Things we may have considered reasonably secure, such as being able to work, have a roof over our heads, and being able to move around freely in Australia or overseas are now in doubt.

Many are experiencing real grief as they mourn loved ones, or find their own health severely compromised, or at risk.

Will our children ever be able to join in competitive sports again? When can we have lunch with our friends, or with our families? Will the kids have to be home-schooled forever?

Our losses

Thoughts of what we have lost – a sense of certainty about our previous rather carefree way of life – fill us with sadness, anxiety, or even depression. Boredom replaces previous activities.

But of even more importance are the fears and anxieties for those who find themselves in proximity to the virus and its effects.

We develop a sniffle, a sore throat. Should we go to work or stay home and miss a day or two of pay while we get tested?

The way we decide can mean life or death, not so much for us, but for those we may infect if we are tested positive and work with the aged or sick.

The stigma of COVID

We fear the stigma associated with being tested and being found positive. Other people can be cruel and treat COVID-19 positive people differently, causing shame and embarrassment.

If we are found to be positive, we could be kicked out of our social circle, removed from our job, or our accommodation.

The non-COVID people can be blaming, judgemental and excluding, treating those with the virus as “dirty”. This can be especially distressing on social media.

People are afraid

Some of this treatment is understandable as the people who are not infected seek to keep themselves free of COVID. They are afraid of the virus and whoever may have been unfortunate enough to have caught it.

So those who fear they may have it avoid admitting to it, avoiding tests and quarantining, probably with disastrous results.

Those who go and get tested fear the results, either the physical results of a possibly debilitating or lethal viral dose, or the need to quarantine with the loss of a job, home, or friends.

COVID-19 creates fear amongst those who are likely to be in a “hot” spot.

We can be isolated

Fear is especially acute for those who are sick for any reason, and isolated in a healthcare situation with no visitors. They wonder what will happen to them – with good reason.

We can feel alone and isolated with our own unique fears. We fear to talk about things for fear of being judged or misunderstood.

Governments can do so much, and they make mistakes. This is new territory for everyone. We just hope they don’t keep repeating mistakes.

Against this backdrop of gloom and doom I would like to suggest something different.

Gratitude!

Those of us who are relatively unaffected by this virus need to be extremely grateful for our survival. Aware of our losses, and adapting, but being grateful for those who are working enormously hard to keep Australia going.

Gratitude to nursing and medical staff, pathology and contact tracing staff, political and health department staff, epidemiologists, the Army and Defence for helping, and many others, including kind neighbours, family, and friends!

Gratitude is a quality of being grateful, showing appreciation for, and returning kindness. Some people frequently feel gratitude which is described as a trait. A state of gratitude is a psychological experience of the emotion of gratitude.

Gratitude is not the same as feeling indebted to another person because of their kindness, as this thinking may lead to avoiding the person who has been kind to us.

Gratitude has nothing to do with entitlement either, but a person who is the recipient of a gift may feel “entitled” to it. The person who is giving the gift, whatever it may be needs to not be attached to an outcome of “gratefulness” coming from the other person.

Give without expecting thanks – show gratitude without feeling indebted

The gift is just given without the recipient feeling indebted, or the giver expecting appreciation. This is true altruism, where generosity is combined with empathy, understanding, emotional intelligence and helpfulness.

Why we need to show gratitude (as we did with the “fireys” last summer) is that we remind ourselves of the good and sometimes heroic acts of others towards the common good.

Gratitude is good for you!

Research has shown that those who show gratitude by writing or communicating to another person who has been kind to them, experience much happiness, less depression and contentment.

This happiness continued up to six months and beyond showing gratitude to the other. Showing gratitude was also found to be associated with more well-being, less stress, and more satisfaction with their lives and social relationships.

Research has revealed that showing gratitude for all the good things we still have helps us feel better. Amazing!

Next time we find ourselves sliding into a blaming, judging, complaining spiral we need to just stop and remind ourselves of all the things we can still be grateful for.

Start a Gratitude Journal

A good way to make this a permanent habit is to get an exercise book and make a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, find three things to be grateful for, rather than 10 things to winge about.

Write them down and reflect on them. The next night you find another 3 things to write in your gratitude journal and contemplate. (not the same three things!)

Continue this habit and you will be amazed how much good there is to be grateful for. People who focus on the good and positive also become much more positive and happier, so there is a worthwhile spin-off to this practice – positive neurological changes!

My three things: I’m in good health. I have a roof over my head. I can communicate with my friends and family even if it is only by digital means!

Try it! Cheers, Kathleen.

© Kathleen Crawford, 2020

For those who find the COVID-19 situation overwhelming, please contact me and try Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) which is a safe and rapid technique for reducing stress.

I’m also going to make a podcast addressing the main issues surrounding COVID – watch out for that 😊

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