Feeling sick about the virus? Do something radical—connect with a real person

Like many of you, I’m sure, I woke up yesterday feeling anxious.
 
After my morning rituals, I immediately opened up my phone to absorb news—about the NBA shutting down its season, U.S. colleges sending students home, that I should start practising ‘social distancing,’ and on and on and on.
 
After putting my phone down, my stomach felt nervous—that ‘on the edge feeling’ that something is coming after me.

I worried about my 87-year-old mother who lives in an apartment building with hundreds of people. About whether my 25-year-old son will be stranded in Australia. Will all my business proposals be put on hold?
 
Then my wife Sandy came down the stairs, and we talked about the news, and all of this stuff. I felt my nervousness ease.
 
It was a simple reminder that talking and listening is the best thing that I can do for myself today, and in the days to come. And it’s my hope there’s something in it for you.
 
When I let go of the noise in my head, it’s like the crap swirling around escapes, whether it’s in my kitchen, over the phone, or chatting in a grocery store aisle. It’s a relief. Calming.
 
My conviction is that when we get outside of ourselves, and gain some degree of distance from our monkey-mind, we feel connection to something greater than ourselves. There’s some re-assurance, even unconsciously, that we’re not alone against whatever is coming at us.
 
I’m not much of an advice giver, especially in a health crisis that is well beyond the competency of a golf and mental performance coach, but if there are a few things I can offer, it’s these:
 
Even if you self-quarantine, work from home, and cancel meetings and social events, keep connected with friends and family.
 
Do something really wild: Use the phone part of your phone. Yes, talk! And listen.
 
I believe those connections remind us what’s really important. I get caught up like everyone else in wanting certain things to happen, but times like these bring into stark relief that my primary relationships are the most important things in my life.
 
The other piece that I’d offer is: When you reach for your phone today, ask yourself why.
 
This morning, I was naturally curious, but I was also trying to satisfy a craving for something that might mitigate my worries, uncertainties and fears. As the Buddhists would say, my suffering.
 
But the zeal to stop suffering is what causes suffering. Craving things to be different is suffering. Wanting resolution and certainty is suffering. 
 
I need to be informed to make good decisions that will help lead to a resolution. I will need reliable and solid information from experts that I can trust to make good decisions.
 
But I also need to be aware that at a certain point, I’ve got enough information to go forward, be fully present to people and my projects, and just get on with living. 
 
It’s my experience that desiring certain things to happen—like checking my phone for an incoming email confirming a contract—causes me more stress. I believe the same is true about gaining more information about this damn virus.
 
I’m certainly going to be checking my phone today, but I’m going to check in with why I’m doing it. Is it just a compulsion? Is it my addiction—a way of seeking some kind of pick-me-up like a drug?
 
I’m going to do my best to keep a distance from my phone today. That’s probably my best defence from feeling sick about the coronavirus.
 
Today, just like many to come, will be a difficult day, but we’ll all get through it, if we stay connected to each other.
 
For some inspiration, and a great musical pick-me-up, my prescription is to listen to Let’s Work Together by Canned Heat.

Before when things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
and the road that you travel, it stays all up hill,
let’s work together, come on, come on, let’s work together,
now now people, you know together we will stand,
ev’ry boy, girl, woman and a man …
 

As a golf and performance coach, the themes of awareness, behaviour change and accountabiity are pillars of my coaching, Click here for more on my workshops. Drop me a line at tim@oconnorgolf.ca or visit www.oconnorgolf.ca.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf and life coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is author of the newly released second edition of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

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