When the night is dark and full of terror

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Faith Wood“The night is dark and full of terrors.”

This phrase has been stuck in my head since I began binge-watching the series Game of Thrones.

It’s a bit like getting a song stuck in your thoughts that just won’t go away. You find yourself humming it regardless of the tasks you’re attempting to do.

This is the power of a sticky phrase. Today, we have a series of phrases that are, for some, making the nights dark and full of terror:

  • Flatten the curve.
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Maintain social distancing.

I’m sure that no one meant to incite fear into every waking moment during the COVID-19 crisis. But, rightly or wrongly, the world is in hyper-reactive mode regardless.

Of course, we’re being encouraged not to panic (stop hoarding food and supplies). We’re asked to limit our travel and stop all activities that would have us connecting physically in group settings.

But the sense of being overwhelmed at the loss of our individual normalcy is still real. And the growing list of closures and restrictions is taking its toll.

For some, the threat to their financial security is very real. Health-care workers are burning the candle at both ends. Parents are juggling extra demands on their time, as well as worrying about future work.

Under these circumstances, how can anyone not feel unsettled?

The Game of Thrones writers could have predicted it: “The night is dark and full of terrors.”

Fear is the story in your head. And we believe the stories that we tell most often.

Constant worry about the state of the world isn’t fixing anything and it’s certainly hazardous to your emotional well-being.

So what if we engaged in activities that distracted us from our current environment and allowed us to take a break from those spinning thoughts for a while?

I’ve always found hanging around with positive, happy people helps, so …

  • Have friends or family members join you for dinner over video conferencing. A friend organized such a session one evening and we all had the most delightful time catching up. Perhaps this is an activity that could last long after the COVID-19 virus has passed.
  • Take your lawn chairs and beverages to the end of your driveway for a block party. You might have to shout a bit but it will be worth it.
  • Pick up the phone and call someone you care about. Ironically, one ripple effect of this pandemic may be that people become more connected in real ways, actually talking to and seeing one another, albeit from a distance.
  • Learn a new skill. There are so many great options virtually. Find a friend who also wants to pursue this and share your experiences with one another – they will be the perfect accountability partner.
  • Get outside. I see all kinds of neighbours (on the other side of the street) when I walk the dog. We need nature as well as activity to help us feel calm, clear and hopeful. So move your body as much as you can and you will feel better mentally.

If you find yourself slipping into your imagination and creating scary or hopeless scenarios, remember that you can choose what you imagine.

Craft scenarios of things getting better, of you calm and coping, and, one day soon, thriving. If you’re going to spend time in imaginative movies inside your head, you may as well start directing them.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

© Troy Media

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