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I can’t believe we are here and it seems like the beginning all over again. In Los Angeles, we have entered another phase of strict stay at home orders due to an absurdly huge surge of coronavirus cases. So many people are sick. So many people have died. It’s a lot.

Staying at home, not co-mingling with other households, is good for slowing the spread of the virus. By staying home, we are practicing the yoga philosophy of Ahimsa, which means non-harming. We are keeping ourselves and others from getting sick. But, it isn’t necessarily good for the mental state of those who live alone or feel isolated. If you don’t feel you can see those you love or who you need to connect with, it can be hard to get through the day-to-day. Even folks who live with others can feel isolated, as they might be carrying the burden of care for others and not be able to depend on their usual supports. It can be even harder to deal with the stress of working from home, not working and trying to make ends meet, a loss, an illness, or any other number of stressors that are part of life right now.

I have heard from so many in my community how this feeling of isolation is getting more and more difficult to handle. I have felt it, too. It is huge and creates it’s own stress and extreme sadness. So, I felt I needed to speak out about what we have the power to do to help ourselves when feeling so alone. Especially because we are going to need to keep leaning on these tools in the months to come. There will be an end to this pandemic, but we will have to endure for a while longer.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I know you are feeling isolated. But, so are many many other people. Duhkha is a Buddhist word that translates to suffering. Buddhists believe life is suffering. It is part of the human condition. We all suffer, and that is one thing that unites us all.

STOP SCROLLING SOCIAL MEDIA AND REACH OUT TO A REAL HUMAN.

Scrolling through social media can make us unhappy. We see all the things other people post and the things they are doing, and even if we feel happy for them, it can lead to a feeling of let down for ourselves. So, the next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling on social, shut it down and text or call or facetime someone in real life. Tell someone about a little thing that happened to you, how you feel, or just listen to them. When we connect with others, even just chatting about the weather, it can help us feel less alone.

ACCESS YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK.

Who do you reach out to that you feel supported by? Do you chat with a friend, parent, therapist, guide, mentor, or healer? What supports you? Don’t be afraid to reach out. Your needs are important and so are you.

MOVE, BREATHE, and BE STILL.

Sometimes, we just need to get out of our own heads and balance out these overwhelming feelings. Help yourself by doing some yoga, conscious breathing, and meditation. If you don’t know where to start, I did a free series at the beginning of the Coronavirus. The series is all about stress relief during the pandemic. You can access the videos on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpbXVmd31T6TFY5Q7TttjUw/videos

JOIN A COMMUNITY.

I have a group on Facebook called Peace Shala which I started to help women who have experienced trauma lift each other up. Isolation and life in the pandemic is trauma. Please join us in a safe space where you can be supported by others with compassion. If Facebook is not for you, think about a class you can do online where you see each other and communicate on Zoom. An art class, meditation class, yoga class, book club, whatever interests you…  I even know of someone taking a class to make a little robot.

TAKE A WALK.

Walk in your neighborhood or go to the park or go on a hike. You will most likely see other people out walking that you can say hello to (safely with masks on, at a distance, of course). Just that little hello and under the mask smile (you can tell when someone is smiling at you by looking at their eyes) can help you feel like you are not alone. Plus, walking in nature can be very calming.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

Whatever you do, be kind to yourself. A lot of people are feeling the same way that you do.  It is natural to feel this way when you are made to stay at home in a pandemic. It takes a bit of work to get outside of the negative thought cycle that happens when we are stressed, anxious, and feeling isolated. But, you can help yourself. Try to do one little nice thing for yourself today. Then, check in with yourself and notice how you feel. After that, maybe try to do one of the things I’ve suggested above. Take it moment by moment. And breathe.

May you have peace within,
Julia

Julia anjali mudra hands

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