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  • Simone Poppleton

10 Ways to Find Your Calm in the Corona-Storm

Once upon a time there was one who loved change... and the other who was slow to warm up to change. Guess who? Yup, l might call Drew the change bringer but you might call me the change-resister.

On Sunday evening when these photos were taken, we were channeling our Mexican spirit at Nate's (Drew's brother) 30th fiesta. My battery had died. When I turned my phone back on, the week ahead as we had planned and as we knew it left us in a prickly situation. As of 7pm Sunday night, after the presidential address (we applaud the President for the great leadership shown) there was a tangible change in the South African atmosphere. My mind was telling me not to worry, but my body was telling me I wasn’t fooling anyone — I felt unexpected and unexplainable panic and acid reflux rising in my chest in the morning and it just stayed there for most of the day in fact.

It’s the uncertainty of it all that shakes us. It’s the unknown that haunts us. It’s the chaos that unsettles us.

I understand and relate to the panic. On many levels, but especially as a business owner the threat of slow down & shut down is real and scary. At Pick n Pay on Monday, like buzzing worker bees full of purpose, people were parading their fears and anxieties for all to see as they raced down the aisles with overflowing trolleys, clearing the shelves. It was a scene that reminded me of Matthew 6:27

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

I had to remind myself that none of this is a surprise to God. It’s so easy in times of calamity and chaos to lose faith and to live in fear. To remind myself that panic pulls me away from God & that panic is not from God. To remind me that during this time as I close myself in, let me not close my heart to others. Many things have been cancelled because of Corona, LOVE is not one of them, a reminder that there is sickness and sin in our world but God is going to work all these things for His good.

Planning for tomorrow is time well spent (I value that people are being proactive and taking precautions, though I do wish they’d leave some supplies for others!), but worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. It’s difficult to tell the difference sometimes. Planning is done to alleviate worry and propels action. But when we worry we are consumed and immobilised by fear. That was me yesterday.

Even as a Counsellor with tools at hand, I still feel anxious at times like this. Here is what has helped me to find inner calm in the outer chaos so that I can respond to the crisis with my cognitive brain and less with my overly fearful/ emotional brain.

  1. Spend as much time praying/ listening to praise and worship music/ spending time in His word, as you do reading the news. Read the news with a Jesus’ perspective to keep perspective.

  2. We are born with an innate need to connect, so social distancing for long periods can leave us feeling lonely or depressed, be proactive and prepare in advance for how you intend to use your time at home. You know that skill you wanted to learn/ hobby you previously didn’t have time for/ Marie Kondo declutter/ admin task you’ve been putting off, no time like today to start! Physically decluttering can be a wonderful way of bringing calm back into your home space. Also using your hands is an important way to move you out of your fearful thoughts!

  3. Why not use this time to create traditions while you are home bound or redefine how you spend time on your own/ as a couple/ as a family. This is a good time to define what your family or household version of Hygge is - an integral part of danish culture. Its a concept that means to truly appreciate the simple things in life that bring you joy.

  4. Prepare a schedule for yourself, you and your partner, your children, on how time is going to be allocated and spent during the day. Having purpose and routine is important for maintaining calm and productivity.

  5. Exercise! Extended periods at home or on the couch/ desk if you are working remotely means your body isn’t moving as much. Walking to and from the fridge doesn’t count. So allocate time for home exercises, go for a fun in the fresh air, gyms are creating online videos to use at home, or incorporate yoga exercises into your morning.

  6. Breathe. Really! Use guided meditation exercises to refocus your overworked mind, onto your breathing and inside your body. Inhale for 5 counts, and exhale for 7 counts.

  7. Support others. When we shift from self to other- it gives us a renewed sense of purpose. Check in with your neighbours, support those more vulnerable and those less able to buy themselves supplies, small businesses who are going to feel the slow down. This helps us for remember that we are not alone. Let’s strengthen our social solidarity.

  8. Talk about something else. Covid-19 talk is everywhere, it’s on the T.V, in the news, in the conversations in the aisles of Pick n Pay, it’s a part of every phone conversation. And that’s understandable - we are all alert and aware. But do ensure that you make time to talk about other things, to laugh, to plan, to dream, to sing. This would be a good time to start a gratitude list or gratitude jar.

  9. If you are going to talk about it, especially with children, then please ensure that you’re sharing true information from reputable sources. And keep open lines of communication for questions in the home. The number you want to save in your contacts is 060 012 3456. This is South Africa’s hotline number for Corona Support. All you need to do is message the contact by saying “Hi”.

  10. Seek out professional assistance if you are struggling with your mental health. I offer online sessions to my international and local clients using Zoom, a password protected platform. I bring therapy to you wherever you are, no matter how you feel. See my website or contact me on 073 809 9576


With Love,



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