Compassion can help you stay calm during the COVID-19 crisis

Published on Mar 17, 2020

stay calm holding a flower head in hands 

Today I received a notification on my mobile phone: Your screen time was up 47% last week.

I guess most of you feel the same when I say I have never experienced something like this before. I don’t even have to write the C word, you all know what I mean.

At first, it all seemed like a big exaggeration. I was still distanced from it all and couldn’t register the actual severity of it. It happened in Italy but it won’t happen to me.

Did you also have this attitude? Or maybe still have it? We all react differently to this unexpected situation.

Some start panicking.

Some wait for more facts.

Some binge on news articles until 3.30 in the morning.

Some deny what’s happening and call others paranoid.

Some meditate and stay calm.

It all shows how differently we react when we feel anxious. Where there is fear, there is no logic.

I have been in voluntary quarantine since Saturday

On Friday, I went grocery shopping with my daughter. My husband was still in Japan on a business trip. Walking around the store and deciding what my family would need for the next weeks was surreal.

I started to think of my grandparents who survived the Second World War in Poland. Not because this is close to what they went through, but now I have an idea about what that terrible feeling of uncertainty feels like.

The sun was shining on Saturday and I was home in our apartment feeling anxious. I scrolled through Facebook and I saw a friend of a friend proudly posting a picture of herself in the sun with the text: “Life goes on like normal in Berlin.”

A bit further down: a picture of a crowd of people standing close to each other in a queue to buy ice cream.

Didn’t they read the news?  I thought to myself.

My Swedish friend reacted surprisingly on my decision to stay at home even though I’m not sick or haven’t been in contact with someone who is.

I read letters online, written by Italians who reported how they waited too long before they acted and advised Germans not to wait for the government to make a decision.

Who should you listen to? Who should you believe?

In the end you can only do what you believe is right. I decided to do what I felt was responsible in this situation. That also meant facing my fears.

Can you be with what is actually happening around us right now?

It is very challenging and I still invite you to try to feel what you feel.

It’s okay to be afraid.

Share with a trusted friend or your partner.

The more we share our fears, the less we panic and act in illogical ways.

What else can we do to stay calm?

Research shows that having compassion for others allows your brain to calm down a little bit. How can you show compassion for yourself and others right now?

Help an elderly neighbor.

Go online and buy a voucher at a local store.

Show the people you live with that you care.

Stay connected with friends.

Call your parents more often.

Take a regular online Pilates class.

Do a daily check-in with yourself and see how you feel emotionally and physically.

Be kind to yourself.

Love boosts your immune system!

Reconnect with what matters the most

Let’s see this situation as an invitation to ask ourselves: what matters the most?

We are learning now that life is profoundly uncertain, that we often take life for granted. This can be a beautiful opportunity to reconnect with what matters most for us.

Many of us asked for peace and quiet, and here we are. The streets are emptier and emptier, and we are having a break from social gatherings.

Let us use this time to practice gratefulness and compassion towards others as well as ourselves. Let us be alone with ourselves, in gratitude, without the distraction from outside.

Home retreat

As my dear friend used to say: “let’s make an event out of it”. In this spirit, I decided to change the word “quarantine” to “home retreat”. This will be a retreat with my family where we will reconnect with each other and do the things we have been postponing because we have been too busy.

I’m sure it won’t be all easy and beautiful, because when we are slowing down and being with what actually is happening, different kinds of emotions show up.

I’m sure we will all come out stronger from this. In every crisis there is a chance.


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I’m Katarina

Welcome to my blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to achieve fulfillment without burning out.


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