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How the Pandemic Has Illuminated Our Social Crisis in Connection and 10 Tips for How to Cope

October 8, 2020

I logged onto my virtual bankruptcy conference Insolvency Summit 2020 this morning and instead of a bankruptcy topic the keynote was Dr. Will Miller talking about anxiety, depression, isolation and mindfulness.

For months, I have been thinking about our Social Crisis in Connection. I felt compelled to share my notes because this is an issue that I have always been interested in and passionate about- CREATING COMMMUNITY.

Keynote with Dr. Will Miller: Coping and Growing Through the Pandemic.

Dr. Miller first talked about the importance of people knowing your name in your own tribe/village, like in Sardinia, Italy (here is a USA Today article about the Blue Zone long lifespan of residents there). Who is in your inner circle? Who serves like an aunt/uncle/mom, dad, brother, sister to you (even if not by blood)? Who has “refrigerator rights” (they can open up your fridge without you thinking it’s weird?) (that’s also the name of Dr. Miller’s Book). “Refrigerator Rights: Why we need to let people in our lives, our homes (and our refrigerators).”

Here are some bits of insights from Dr. Miller:

Photo Credit: Jasu Hu in The Atlantic article

1. Work on developing quality relationships with people that will have refrigerator rights.

2. Create a village of diverse persons from a safe distance or on Facetime or Zoom. These people should be in all age ranges. They know your name and you know theirs and you make them feel seen and heard and safe and accepted. Do you have people like this in your life?

3. Stick your neck out to reach out to people. Take the risk of doing so. I’m talking about the risk of rejection.

4. Avoid unhealthy addictions to things. Addiction comes from an impulse to change our mood. How else can you change your mood?

5. Anxiety is when your thoughts run amuck. Change your pattern of thinking. Interrupt your thoughts. Act. Space. React. Race to get into the space instead and replace or recalibrate your thoughts. In the space, do maybe the following mindfulness activities:

a. Deep breathing (google this), deep inhale and deep exhaling. It stops your racing thoughts.

b. Meditate even for 30 seconds a day (check out the apps). Come up with mantras- “Don’t react.” “I am enough.” “I am safe, secure.”

c. Yoga- makes you stop your thinking.

d. “GLAD”-

i. Gratitude -List all the things you might be grateful for.

ii. Learning -Seek to learn or recognize what you are learning from a difficult experience.

iii. Accomplishments- Recognize the little things are you accomplishing in that moment.

iv. Delight-turn attention to things that make you anxious to things that give you delight (I do this with all things ART).That goes back to finding activities that bring us joy.

e. Medication

f. Seek the outdoors-Walk in nature every day. It makes you slow your engine down.

6. Depression. Dr. Miller describes it as the inability to imagine a future. Reach out to others who can remind you of what can be in store.

7. Mirror warm smiles and eye contact. Joy is contagious. So is misery.

8. With the pandemic we have no control over the WHEN. This leads to anxiety because we don’t know when it will end. Instead, focus on what we can control. Control the controllables.

9. After the 1918 pandemic, then came the Roaring 20s marked by exhuberance and joy, Same post WW II. Maybe we are in store for the same post- COVID.

10. With patterns and habit, we create grooves on our brain of memory and experience. When an event happens, we have to adapt to new grooves. Try to seek out new grooves and become comfortable with them.

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