What Stage Are You In? – Pandemic Grief

Stages of grief and the covid pandemic.Have you ever had the experience of a doctor telling you what was wrong with you, and even if you couldn’t really do anything, it helped to know what it was?  Maybe it was just an ache or pain, a small illness.  Just having a name for it — even some fancy latin term (or maybe especially some latin term) — somehow makes it seem better.  Naming something helps us feel some control.

This pandemic has stripped us of many feelings of control.  It more often feels like life is disrupted and dangerous.  Early in the pandemic — but far enough in that it was clear we were headed down a long path — I was wondering why it took me so long to process that we were in for a long-haul… with implications for every segment of life.  Why had I “missed” the signs?

Denial.  That is what I realized.  I had been playing the denial game.

Which reminded me that I was experiencing a grief response.  I was in grief!  From the pandemic.  Well, the pandemic losses and impact.

Over the next few weeks, as I talked with individuals and organizations, I noticed that we were all in collective grief, as well as experiencing the individual grief.  And as the pandemic has continued, I have noticed that people are experiencing the different stages of grief at different times.  That very fact seems to be at the root of much of the struggles I see played out on social media and regular media.  Clashing stages.

Still, stages.  Grief comes in stages. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross noted 5 stages.  Her colleague, David Kessler, has more recently added a potential 6th stage (an aspirational stage for many).  The point of describing the stages is not so much to force people on through the stages.  It is more for being able to name the stage for what it is.  The capacity of looking at where you are and naming the stage gives a sense of control.  And when we have some sense of control, we can choose whether we are where we want to be, or if we would rather shift.  The shift becomes an option.

Or we can just name the stage and know that is what we are experiencing.

What stage of grief are you in?  I discuss the 5+1 stages in this week’s episode of the Thriveology Podcast.  Listen below.

RELATED RESOURCES
Medium Article by Lee Baucom on Grief
Medium Article by Lee Baucom on The Paradox of Pandemic
Book by Lee Baucom, Thrive Principles
Coping with Covid Series of Podcasts

Finding Moments of Calm in Times of Chaos

David Dachinger and Tamara Green, how to find calm in chaotic times, using the Loving Meditations App.What a chaotic time we are in!  Even without a pandemic, it was already chaotic, what with politics and changes in society. Stir in a pandemic, and there is NO way to be calm.

Right?

Or maybe….

Maybe calm is not about what is happening around you, outside of you. Perhaps it comes from somewhere within you. Somewhere that knows you are separate from the external chaos.

Our internal response to a chaotic world can be chaos… or we might be able to find calm. Especially if we can separate our thoughts from the events and emotions. If we can find a space between what is happening and how we respond.  A space that is rooted in peace.

On this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, I have a chance to speak with David Dachinger and Tamara Green.  David is a firefighter and a Grammy nominated music composer (quite the contrast there!).  And Tamara is an author and licensed therapist.

When David was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (there IS no stage 5), his world shifted chaos from fighting fires to fighting cancer. He and Tamara realized that they needed to rally their resources to help in David’s health and healing. That included meditation and mindfulness. The resources they developed are now helping others to find calm in the midst of chaos.

Not a bad goal in today’s world, is it?

Listen below to hear their story and their method of bringing calm to the world through an app.

RELATED RESOURCES
LovingMeditations App
David and Tamara’s Website
Calming Your Thriving Body Episode
A Thriving Breath Episode
Coping with COVID Series
Thrive Principles Book

Thinking Through The Pandemic

Coping with COVID Series

 

Donald Robertson, modern Stoic philosopher and therapist.I was at a book signing a while back, signing a book of mine that is a few years old.  This person picked it up, looked at the publication date, put it down, and said, “I was looking for something more recent.”

That had me pondering… how long is information valid?  Sure, I would not likely want to read a computer book about the Windows 98 operating system, or about the coming “Y2K crisis.”  But what about transformational information?  When does that lose value?

Human brains have not changed in structure for millenia.  Which is why we still garner insight and understanding from books written millenia ago.  Ancient thoughts and texts still illuminate us these days.

Which brings me to my guest this week on the Thriveology Podcast.  I asked Donald Robertson to talk with me about some pretty old thoughts.  No, Donald is not millenia old.  But the philosophy he espouses and teaches is.  Donald is a modern Stoic philosopher, drawing on ancient Stoicism and what it offers to us in our current world.

And in our current pandemic situation, Stoic thought has LOTS to teach us.  In fact, Stoic thought is the underlying philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the cornerstone of modern mental health counseling.

Donald discusses the relevance of Stoic philosophy in today’s world, and how we can apply it to the pandemic in which we find ourselves.  Listen in as Donald Robertson gives some powerful help in dealing with our thoughts and our emotions in the midst of today’s (and future) struggles.

RELATED RESOURCES
DonaldRobertson.name
ModernStoicism.com
What Thriving People Know About Thoughts
Your Thoughts, Your Stories
Live Each Day as THE Day

Challenge Makes Us Grow

Steve Sims and how challenge helps us to grow.When I was a kid, I hit this point when I was growing fast.  So fast that my limbs hurt, I constantly tripped, and knocked everthing over as my hand got there before I expected.  Growth was a challenge.

Generally, though, it works the other way.  When we are challenged (and take it on), we grow.  A child wants to crawl, then walk, then run.  But wanting to is not the same as being able to.  Crawling ends up being a bellyflop.  Walking leads to teetering bottom-bumps.  And running… well, that just leads to face-plants.  But so far, I have never seen a child give up and say, “Well, I just can’t do that.  I guess I’m not meant to crawl/walk/run.”  The child just tries again.

Challenge is something we can rise to, expand into.  And when we do, challenge is the impetus for growth.

In this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, I talk with Steve Sims.  At the age of 15, Steve finished his schooling in England, and stepped right into what seemed to be his destiny:  masonry.  Just like his father, his grandfather, his uncles, and his cousins.  In an instant of inspiration, Steve looked at his family and realized this was not his destiny.  As he told me, it was not that he was better than his family, but that he thought there was something better for him.

That set him on a search for his own destiny, a way to see the world and meet people with different viewpoints and lifestyles.  This twisted path has led to now.  Through taking on challenges and growing through them.

Listen in as Steve and I discuss his life, his challenges, and the success of taking on those challenges.

RELATED RESOURCES:
Steve’s Website for More Information
The Power of a Challenge
Learn or… Learn
Act or Accept

Breathe for Your Health and Calm

Coping with COVID Series

James Nestor, author of Deep and Breath.It happens about 25,000 per day.  And for the most part, it is automatic.  But it is one of the few bodily functions that you can “take off automatic” and choose how you will do it.  And you might not be doing it optimally.

What is it?

Breathing.  Taking a breath.  Inhaling and exhaling.

I know, it seems automatic, right?  But you can choose to take a deep breath.  Or you can hold your breath.  You may breathe out of your nose.  Or you may breathe with your mouth (you may want to change that one… listen to the podcast for why).

Breathing one way can stress you out.  Breathing another way will calm you down (meaning, you can choose which way you want to breathe!).

Since you are currently reading this, we can assume you are breathing.  That’s a great start?  How about breathing BETTER?  That is a process that can take you down lots of paths.

On this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, I interview James Nestor.  A journalist and writer, James got interested in breathing from an ealier book, Deep, which focused on freediving (people going very deep for a long time, because they are excellent breathers).

His upcoming (and excellent) book is Breath.  It is a super-deep (and very readable) “dive” into breathing — why it is important, how to do it better, and what difference it makes.

When I heard about the book, I knew I needed to get James on the podcast, at this moment.  His book won’t be out until May (but go ahead and pre-order it!).  But with the pandemic, you need this information now.  So, I got him on!  And James offered some simple, easy ways to uber-breathe to help your health.

This is super important.  Take a listen below!  (Then order his book!)

RELATED RESOURCES
Breath – from Amazon
Breath – from Bookstore.org (they support local bookstores)
James Nestor’s website

The Fear/Anxiety Contagion

Coping with COVID Series

How to avoid being infected by the emotional contagion of fear and anxiety, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.  Special coronavirus podcast episode.It’s highly contagious.  You can catch it from a single interaction with one person.  You can catch it much faster in a crowd.  You can pass it on to someone else in an instant.

You can also catch it from just reading, watching, or listening to something.

In 39 milliseconds, you have it… and you didn’t even see it coming!

Coronavirus?  Nope.  That is certainly serious, and you absolutely want to do everything you can to avoid catching or spreading it.  I do not want to minimize the risks of this pandemic.

But that is not the contagion I am focusing on here.

This contagion is fear and anxiety.  Yes, you can catch fear.  Yes, you can catch anxiety.  And you can also spread them.

Humans have a natural wiring (we share it with the animals at the watering hole… and all the others) to pick up on fear and anxiety.

Many times, people have said, “Should I panic over this?”  The “this” has been lots of different things.  And my answer is always, “Panic is never a better option.  Should you respond?  Should you choose an action? Yes.  Panic?  No.”

That is easier said than done. But on this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, I share why fear/anxiety is contagious, along with how to limit the infection.  Listen below.

RELATED RESOURCES
Dealing with Fear
Attacking Anxiety
Self-Care
Order, Disorder, Reorder

Lee’s Thrive Books

How to Hope in Tough Times

Coping with COVID Series

How to have hope in tough times — coronavirus and other times.Let me just say, I am a bit weary.  How about you?

This has been a wearying time for so many of us.  Nobody is unaffected by this pandemic.  And we can’t even point to an end to the crisis.  Take a guess, and your guess is probably as good as any other.

What do we do?  Everything seems to be upside-down, inside-out, and topsy-turvy.  It’s hard to figure out what happens next and what to do next.

Which means that some people are beginning to feel hopeless.

Early in my career, as a hospital chaplain, I saw what happens when people have hope… and when they lose hope.  But I didn’t really have any way to help people who were hitting hopelessness.  I just saw the damage.

Thanks to other researchers, I am more clear about how we can build and hold hope, even in tough times.  If you can’t hold it in tough times, it just needs some boosting, and some knowledge.

Let’s talk about hope, tough times, and the Hope Formula.  Listen below.

RELATED RESOURCES
Dealing with Stress
Dealing with Loss and Grief
Dealing with Depression
Dealing with Fear and Anxiety
Lee Baucom’s Books

 

Stay Sane While Staying Safe

Coping with COVID Series

How to stay sane while staying safe in Did you hear about the guy who had been on a meditation retreat for a couple of weeks?  He went in with “life as usual.”  And he emerged into a whole new world.  One where people are practicing social distance, sheltering at home, and scared.  One where restaurants, coffee shops, and bars are closed or limited.  One where every cough is scary.

And one where we are trying to figure out the “new normal.”

How are you doing with it?  Feeling the stress or finding your calm?  Struggling with your day, or finding a new routine for your day?

One issue with this crisis is we don’t have an end date.  Nor do we know how bad (or not so bad) things might be — which is influenced by what we do as citizens and fellow humans!

How do we stay sane while we are trying to stay safe?  That is my subject for this episode of the Thriveology Podcast.

Let’s talk about some strategies for doing your best to live your best in the midst of this crisis.  Basically, how to stay sane while being safe.

Listen below.

RELATED RESOURCES:
Need some reading?  Check out my books.
CDC Info Page on the Coronavirus Crisis
WHO Info Page on the Coronavirus Crisis
Thriving In An Age of Panic Episode

Thriving in an Age of Panic

Coping with COVID Series

How to thrive in an age of panic — dealing with the corona virus pandemic without panic.When I recorded this episode of the Thriveology Podcast, it was almost another world.  Many people were still minimizing the novel coronavirus.  Even politicians were downplaying the severity and impact.

So much has changed.  Many, if not most, schools are closed to face-to-face instruction.  Many workers are working from home, where possible.  Lots of restaurants are only serving by delivery or take-out.  New guidelines suggest not being around more than 10 people… and that number may go down.

The world has changed, almost overnight.

It affects us all… making this episode just as important, if not more so.

We are going to have to define what it means to thrive.  That is what happens when it feels like every day is an attempt to survive.

Here is the good news:  humanity will prevail. We can thrive. Life WILL go on.  But it will never be the same.  Things will change.  How we used to do things will disappear, but new ways will appear.

I know these are scary times.  But we will get through this.  Together.

That’s what we do.

Lisen to the episode below.

RELATED RESOURCES:
CDC Information
WHO Information
Johns Hopkins Guide to Coronavirus
Check Out My Books to Help Thrive

Happiness Is A Constant Reset

Michaela Renee Johnson on making constant resets to find happiness.Happiness is a funny thing, isn’t it?  One day, it’s right there… right in front of you.  Then, just as quickly… it’s gone.  Why is it so hard to hold onto happiness?

Maybe more importantly, is there a way to shift into happiness, nearly at will?

I am always concerned about how lightly we take happiness.  Our culture makes it THE goal, and not a part of your goal.  But worse, happiness often ends up being about waiting for something to happen.  Notice:  HAPPy and HAPPen.  Same root.  It is about something out there happening to make you happy.

My guest this week, Michaela Renee Johnson, believes that happiness is really about making constant resets.  It is about looking for and finding the points of happiness… not waiting for them to just happen.

After an unorthodox childhood (based on family necessity), Michaela became something of a free-spirit wanderer.  She finally found her way to her calling as a psychotherapist… and spends her time helping others “speak their truth with grace and live a courageous life of authenticity.”  Something she did, herself.

Listen below on how to find happiness through constant reset.

RELATED RESOURCES
Michaela’s Website
The Happiness Trap
It’s Not (Entirely) About Happiness
Chasing Mis-Wants
Thrive Principles Book