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  • Writer's pictureMartin Stepek

Letting Go of Covid

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Well it’s been with us now for a long, long time. Covid. Covid-19. The Pandemic. Whatever you prefer to call it, it has dominated our lives for a very long time. But have we let it dominate us too much?

I don’t mean this in a political sense. I mean in the sense of the whole feelings around our lives not being normal any more. There’s a lot of talk about covid-fatigue, people feeling so much more down and deflated because there seemed to be no end in sight. And even with the good news about the vaccines, normality can still feel a long way ahead.

In my view there’s physical covid, economic covid, and mental or psychological covid. I am happy to leave the physical covid, and how to prevent it, treat it, and minimise its spread to the experts in their field ie. the scientists and the doctors. I’m happy also to trust, as much as we can, the politicians elected to manage the economy on our behalf, and to make these terribly difficult decisions about which business sectors have to suffer on and off for the greater good.

Which leaves the mental or psychological covid. That’s where I think there’s a huge gap in support, even where the support may actually exist. People who struggle with issues such as anxiety, fear, loneliness, depression aren’t exactly in the right state of mind to ask for help. It’s one of the great problems of humankind that states of mind which are negative tend to make people withdraw, and part of that withdrawal is from approaching exactly the kinds of people who could help them.

So in a very real sense the biggest health impact of covid has been mental rather than physical. That is not in any way to diminish the grief and pain of those who have lost loved ones, or those who have suffered covid at its worst. One of my best friends has had it, as has a near neighbour, and both described it as horrendous, and they were not amongst those hospitalised so you can imagine the physical pain associated with it.

But I think it’s fairly accurate to say that virtually all of us have been in some way negatively affected by the way we have had to change our lifestyles through this pandemic.

From my perspective, part of this has been because we have allowed the changes and impositions to weigh us down. It’s not our fault. It’s perfectly natural when a person’s freedom is restricted for that individual to react negatively. It’s also perfectly natural for people to feel emotional distress at not being able to see people they love or whose company they enjoy.

Moreover much of what we do in our lives is a form of escape. This is inherently unhealthy in my opinion, but it is so common that we could say it is universal especially in the most developed countries. We are so used to being entertained on television, on social media, on Youtube, at the cinema, at concert halls, in arts venues, and so on, that we fail to see that most of the time we do these things as a way of escaping our everyday lives. Normal life can seem so dull, boring, and eventually distressing, without access to what we have become so accustomed to - world-class entertainments and arts on our screens or in our nearest cities and towns.

For many people work is also an escape, and being at home all day is no joy for those who would prefer the routine of going to the office or factory for the bulk of their day.

As a result millions of people feel out of sorts, mentally confused and dispirited. In effect they are carrying the virus and letting it get to them, even though it’s the mental effect of the virus and not the physical virus itself.

The good news is that, unlike the real virus, which does need a vaccine, we already have vaccines for our moods and negative states of mind. We simply need to start to let go of the hold that the virus has on our mind. We have for the best part of this year allowed more and more concerns about the virus and how it affects our everyday life to seep into our mind, and cause us to feel increasingly down and emotionally fatigued by it.

Now – right now – just very slowly breathe in, deeper, and deeper, until your breath is full. Then breathe back out, again slowly, and keep the breath going out until all the air is out of your lungs. Then do the same a few times more, and try to notice every single moment of the breath, especially just inside the nostrils.

The in-breath is refreshing and clears the mind. The out-breath is very quiet, gentle, and peaceful.

In these few moments of noticing your breathing you have let go of the virus. Now all you need to do is to keep taking your mind to pleasant things, everyday things like a sip of tea, the clouds in the sky, your favourite photo on the wall.

This is the way to get back to reality, and to let go of the mental effects of the virus. Unlike the virus, the mental effects are not real. You have created them, and you can let them go. Life may not be perfect with the ongoing restrictions but it is still life, and we are the fortunate generation. We have so very much to enjoy, to be grateful for, and we should start once again to notice how wonderful so much of life is, and dedicate ourselves to letting go of this virus and claiming control of our happiness again.

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