Pandemic Diaries: Inside the whale

By Jamie Etheridge

Yesterday, Kuwait entered a total lockdown, 24-hour curfew for the next 20 days. We are now inside the whale – with no choice but to endure, to passively accept the circumstances as they are and to try and make the best of them. The loss of control over our own lives can be difficult to swallow. It would be a challenge under normal circumstances and these are far from normal times. Kuwait has already been under months of stay-at-home orders since the coronavirus first arrived here.

But we have to remember that each of us is playing our part. We are helping the world overcome this pandemic. We are helping Kuwait to eradicate the virus here. We are making a positive contribution just by staying home, helping hospitals and medical workers cope with the cases they have without adding more burdens to their already heavy load. In isolation, staying at home, it is hard to see this. It’s difficult to recognize the importance and the value of doing nothing, but as the Queen Mother told Elizabeth in The Crown (on Netflix), sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing to do.

We are in more control of our lives than it seems. Yes, we are stuck at home and now under a total curfew. It would be easy to slide into depression, into feelings of total helplessness. But we can still control our reaction. Scientific studies have shown that the mind can be an important tool for impacting our health and wellness. We cannot ‘think’ ourselves out of having cancer, a bad diet or a heart attack.

Health is a complex set of circumstances that involves chemistry, biology, genetics, lifestyle and diet as well as circumstance. But we can reduce levels of stress and anxiety by changing our perspective and mindset and that does impact blood pressure, immune responses and our body’s overall ability to maintain health.

Inside the whale, we can panic and cry. Sometimes a bit of crying can release a lot of pent up emotional stress and feel like relief. Or we can also choose to find the calm. We can pray or meditate or find some other activities that help us endure this period of isolation. We can accept the reality fate has thrust upon us and find a way to make it work. We can distract ourselves through a variety of means including daily exercise (yoga, Pilates, circuit training), creative endeavors (drawing, painting, cooking), play and entertainment (video games, TV, Legos, cards, reading) or through some combination of all these.

We can think ourselves to a place of calm acceptance. We can rearrange our perspective, our view of the circumstances. We can decide to make the most of this period of isolation to reconnect with ourselves and our families. Once we realize that the situation may be beyond our power but our response to the circumstances can be determined by us, we regain control and that is the first key to a calm and peaceful life.

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