As an educator, I am flooded by young people’s messages for the last few weeks. Irrespective of the words, dreams, morbid comedy and imagery that has been used, the underlying tone is apparent: “I don’t want to die”.
When one faces the possibility of death, it is ok to be afraid of death. Here are some coping mechanisms to enable you to handle the unique situation the world is facing.
1. Take control: Every time you feel the panic- find 5 things to touch, 4 things to see, 3 things to hear, 2 things to smell and 1 thing to remind you of something else. Yes- you are a speck in the infinitude of Time and Space. However, you belong: every speck is a part of the universe.
As such, death comes to all. Just now, today- you are still living. Take time to express your anguish in creative ways- poetry, art, a play script. Write a letter to a young person who is living in the year 2220 about your life.
3. Break the Bondage of Fear: Like all other emotions, fear is born out of a processing of thoughts. When fear arrives, just process it backwards – find your triggers and be informed about who you are. Every thought is like a cloud in the sky- you can choose to watch them float out of your mind; or hold on to the image and imagine the cloud to be something else and create a feeling.
4. Redefine Success: At the end of the day, find your definition of success for today- a workout regimen of 1 hour is a successful day. 20 minutes without panic because you were busy doing what you love is a true achievement. Journal your success story. Gradually define your success for longer periods of time.
5. Friendship and Relationships: Respect others- everyone is experiencing a moment of sonder – that unique individual life that makes every person different. Old friends and family may not have the strength to support you; you may not have the strength to help others- its ok to acknowledge your unique life and give yourself consent to take a break. Cope with the essential routine and rest for awhile. When you are ready, connect with the old or seek new interests, hobbies and peer groups. It is ok to become someone different.
6. Vision Board: a materialistic and consumerist #bucketlist is not enough anymore- develop a full-fledged, holistic Vision Board. Think about what kind of a Mind you want to attain (in the next 2 years). Start working on it today- learn to breathe, learn to meditate, study philosophy- whatever you need to get to your Vision of Life.
7. Schedule your Day: Audio and Screen Fatigue is real- you may need to disable notifications, unfollow and block, set timings for WFH communications, set time to hang out with strengthening activities (hobbies/grooming/self-care) and party with nourishing relationships.
8. Books to read: We are living textbooks on existentialism and nihilism today- honestly, no book can tell us more. Read something you may not be living just now- E.g.: Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralle and Four Loves by CS Lewis helped me. Study other ways of thinking and find the trust to give yourself a possibility that there is more to life.
9. Youthful rebellion: When faced with death, become a young rebel- try falling in love! Anything is ok- develop a passion for an object of great beauty, soak yourself in a book or character, obsess over a film actor’s role in a movie- for a short while. Falling in love releases several feel-good hormones that we need just now.
10. New Normal: As such, yesterday never returns. Even without being aware, we always wake to a New Day every day. Nowadays, we are aware that there is something New or Different. Use this awareness to upskill yourself and remodel into your role.
As this new day breaks, be grateful that you have the opportunity to feel the genuine mystery of life. Hang in there- the whole world is with you just now! -Lathashree KS