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Empaths in the Epidemic

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a short, very hard time accepting that life as I knew it was going to change temporarily.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a short, very hard time accepting that life as I knew it was going to change temporarily. For the most part, since I work from home editing if I am not on set, I was pretty used to be home all the time. But as an extrovert (and a rather touchy-feely person), the idea of not being able to see and hug my friends whenever I wanted to was torture. The thought of not being able to go to the bar and blow off stream sucked. (Still sucks.) Not being able to go to the movies is really crappy, especially with some of the releases that were scheduled for this summer: they really need to be seen in a surround sound environment!

What’s been most interesting during this time is the emotional and mental changes that can be noted happening throughout all of our society, and that I have experienced myself. I consider myself a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). For those unfamiliar with the term, it means that I tend to pick up on “vibes” and internalize them.

So, if that’s the case, everyone who is an HSP must be going through a ridiculously hard time. Especially our friends on the frontline: healthcare workers, grocery store workers, various armed service members, and our government representatives. Don’t forget that during this time of crisis, they must put aside any emotional and mental needs per se to take care of the rest of the population.

But when you feel every emotion and every heartache of the people you’re closest to during this time, how do you “filter out” what emotions are yours and what’s not? How do you use this time to your advantage and not succumb to the spiral of what feels like insanity?

I, like everyone else, have been dealing with these questions and these struggles. As we enter summer, things feel and seem lighter. But knowing that there are other spikes of disease around the corner and knowing that there will most likely be more, but smaller, restrictions put in place in the future… what do we do to steel our minds and hearts against the unknowable future?

Below, I’ve put together a few things I have learned and used to help me weather these changes as an HSP.

  1. Routines

  2. Friendship

  3. Meditation

  4. Boundaries

  5. Reading

#1 Routines

Routines (or rituals, as I prefer to call them) are part of what keeps us grounded. Consistently choosing not to follow routines you have set up, even if it is as simple as how you get ready for bed or prepare yourself in the morning, will do more harm than good. Maintaining some semblance of normalcy within your own personal space is absolutely key to keeping your head above water, and subsequently being able to help others if you so desire

#2 Friendship

Our closest family and friends are going to be lighthouses in these perilous waters. Keep in touch with them as best you can, whether it’s through text, calls, Zoom, carrier pigeons, whatever you need to do to not lose those connections. Because you don’t know when they need you to be their lighthouse, and sometimes people don’t tell others when they need help. Make it as easy as possible to let them know that they are in your corner.

#3 Meditation

Now is the time to embrace your own mind. Now is the time to ask yourself what you want from this life, what values you hold most dear, what experiences you want to have. Meditation is a good way to get to know yourself. Start off small: do 5 - 10 minutes a day, every other day, but get in the habit of making it another “ritual”, even if it’s only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Respecting what you need to do in order to “feel like yourself” is half the battle! Which leads me to my next tip:

#4 Boundaries

Especially if you work at home, it is massively important to set up boundaries where you can between work/school and home life. When suddenly your entire world fits in the size of a small apartment or within the confines of your large suburban home, it’s all still at home. If you’re expected to work 40 hours a week, and your boss texts you asking you to do something, figure out if it is vital to the operations of the business. If it is not, you need to find a way to tell them that you’re “off the clock”. This article from Melody Wilding does a great job explaining how to maintain boundaries and reposition refusals to look more like commitment to better performance!

#5 Reading

Guys - I make content for a living. But even I get tired of sitting in front of the TV or computer (or phone) watching TV. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get your stories told to you in a different medium. During this pandemic, I’ve been reading a lot more. Not just books, but also short stories, poetry, academic articles. Some of my favorite short-form reading is actually from WeTransfer’s WePresent series. There you’ll find stories about unexpected creativity, ranging from spotlights on relatively famous creatives like Christian Louboutin to exploring relatively rising artists like Delphine Desane. And if reading doesn’t do it for you, check out these 12 museums that have parts of their collection available online for tourists to peruse. (I’m fond of the Uffizi myself!)

Mainly, the things that this pandemic has shown me is that health, be it physical or mental, is fleeting if we chose to ignore it. At the end of the day, taking care of yourself begins and ends with you. You have the power to overcome any obstacle in your way. Don’t let this time go to waste. Use it to sharpen your sword, and grow your relationships. USe it to dream, lay plans, and practice self-care. Be safe. Be smart. Be wise. And be brave! We will all come through this, together.



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