As the world seems to be changing before our eyes, we are left with the daunting task of coping with it all. How do we rationalize and make sense of such an extreme situation? This is uncharted territory for all of us.

The initial instinct is ‘fight or flight’ or panic, which has led to hoarding food supplies and even toilet paper of all things. Retail stores, banks, concert halls, schools, malls, universities, stadiums and restaurants are all closed; sports teams are on hiatus and once busy roadways are now strangely manageable.

We are all left with the task of learning social distancing, elbow bumps, frequent hand washing and sanitizing anything that is ever touched. There is no where to go and not much to do as we all try to figure out what happened to the world we knew just a few weeks ago?

So now, with all sorts of time on our hands, we can get to the business of gathering important information, but where do you turn and who do you trust? 24-hour news outlets have time to fill, competitors to beat and advertisers to satisfy.

Sure, they want to report what you need to know, but to support their bottom line, they need to keep you tuned in and the best way to do this is to maintain a sense of urgency and fear. If we take the bait, we get sucked into an emotional roller coaster resulting in significant ongoing stress and hopelessness. Overtime this can affect sleep, appetite, mood and overall healthy well-being.

So what do we do? What do we actually have control of? We can certainly control how and when we gather daily news updates. We can control the frequency our physical activities like healthy exercise which stimulates endorphin flow creating a sense of euphoric relaxation.

We can also seek out uplifting stories that have resulted from this tragedy like the Italian residents singing together from their apartment windows as a sign of unity. Or the police officer in Somerville, MA who handed out toilet paper instead of tickets

As a hypnotherapist, I teach my clients to control their pattern of thought, how they think and what they most frequently think about. Hypnosis or meditation is a great way to emotionally disconnect from outer world thoughts and to focus within; to spend more time thinking about and anticipating sustained comfortable relief.

By repeating this process daily the subconscious becomes conditioned to follow this new relaxing path. You will still be doing what you do and going where you go, but you will feel much better about it. We can’t control what comes our way but we most definitely have control over how we see it and more importantly how it makes us feel.

You don’t necessarily need to see a hypnotherapist or attend a meditation class to get the job done. There is no shortage of great meditation apps as well as an endless array of free hypnosis sessions on YouTube. You will be pleasantly surprised how much better you’ll feel in the middle of everything that is going on around you.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH