How to Stay Calm in Times of Chaos

Confidence, Mental Health, Presence, Self Awareness
03/30/20 - Kristin Vierra
how to stay calm ama la vida

“Is this real life?!” I thought to myself as I scrambled to translate my long list of grocery items to the masked man through the cracked door of my local Buenos Aires mercado. I quickly google translated tumeric to Spanish and repeated “cúrcuma” 3x until he finally understood what my gringa accent was requesting. He gave me an unfortunate head shake “no” and looked back at the line of masked people waiting to shop behind me. This was not the time for a complicated order.

When I first started hearing the news in China and Europe, I remember telling friends that this could not be real. Every article and news update I read felt like it was straight out of the script of a Black Mirror episode or a new SciFi movie. A movie or episode I wouldn’t want to watch, let alone partake in.

It still feels surreal as I walk through the eerily quiet streets of Buenos Aires past masked and gloved people and realize yes, this IS real life. 

It’s a strange feeling living abroad when going home doesn’t feel like the safest option. This is a global situation, and I know we are all feeling the effects. The unifying force of global awareness to #stayhome is inspiring. It’s amazing to see global acceptance as we learn to adapt to this new normal. No doubt that this is a time of uncertainty for all that can fill us with emotions of fear, doubt and insecurity. Yet, I challenge you to shift this perspective. Uncertainty and I have gotten real close over the past few years, and I’ve learned that leaning into it and embracing change always leads to greater courage, resilience, learning and growth. 

As Margaret Drabble said, “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” We have the power to decide the role this current reality plays in our lives. I’m choosing to focus on what I can control, keep an open mind, spread positivity and stay calm! What are you choosing?

Either way, I know we will all come out of this stronger, more united, and more appreciative than ever…for a simple handshake, hug or as they do here in Argentina *kiss on the cheek*.

staying calm when things are uncertain

Here are a few things bringing me peace and calm during times of uncertainty:

Catching up with family and friends

  • Between Zoom calls, text updates and Instagram meme shares, I am now in closer contact with friends and family back home than my almost two years of living abroad. I’m so grateful for virtual methods to connect and support each other through the emotions of change. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that friends and family are safe and healthy.
    • Here are my favorite tools to virtually connect:
      • Zoom As a remote worker, this is nothing new to me. However, it’s amazing to see how Zoom is now playing a bigger part in everyone’s lives worldwide. From meetings to workout classes to virtual birthday parties, Zoom is allowing us to stay connected and stay home. 
      • FaceTime If catching up with one or two people, I also love to use FaceTime to make a call and see a familiar face. It remains a great way to have a quick ‘face to face’ catch up.

Virtual workouts

  • I’ve really missed my workout classes from San Francisco living abroad. The abundance of online options from home during this time are a new opportunity for me to take my favorite workouts and instructors from a distance. Also, the need for movement in quarantine has caused me to work out more than usual. Here are some great virtual workout options:
    • Karma Yoga SF was one of my favorite SF workout studios and I’ve loved taking my close friend Shelley Newhouse’s hot pilates and yoga classes from a distance. It’s also been a great way to connect and workout with friends from home via Instagram live.
    • Here is a list of some free virtual workout options to take from home.
    • Here is a great spreadsheet of virtual workout options from The Nudge.

Investing in new skills and passion projects

  • This year I wrote down a goal to cook more frequently and, unfortunately, was working from cafes and eating out way too often to live up to it. Yet, ironically, cooking is now my only option and the quarantine has forced me to put this goal into action. After finally stepping up my culinary game, I’ve found it fun and therapeutic. I’m also eating much healthier than the carne-filled menu options eating out here in Argentina. What’s one thing you’ve been itching to try? What’s a passion you rarely find time for? Is there a project you’ve been wanting to finish? Now is a great opportunity to invest in new skills or passions at home.


Community Abroad

  • The current situation in the world has heightened my level of community here with other friends and expats in Buenos Aires. We support each other by sharing local updates, Zoom support calls and sharing humor to keep each other calm and sane. I am beyond grateful for our international network to lean on, share advice and support each other in navigating times like these far away from “home”.

Global Unity

  • As someone who now considers myself a “citizen of the world”, one of the most refreshing things about this challenging time is the unity created in local and global communities. I am living for the countless positive stories like music being shared across balconies in Italy, letters of advice from one country to another and people donating supplies to local hospitals. Here in Buenos Aires, every night at 9 pm there is an applause for health care workers. People partake across balconies and open windows that is often accompanied by music and whistles. Every night this powerful moment fills me with a sense of hope and positivity. You can see a clip here
cooking and exploring passions can help you stay calm

How will you find peace and calm through current events? What role will they play for you? As Coach Teague mentioned in her newsletter the other day, Lisa Olivera shared that she’s asked herself, “Who do I want to be through this?”. Times may be uncertain but we have the power to decide what role they play. Along with who we want to be through it all.

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Kristin Vierra

Kristin is a Life & Career Coach with Ama La Vida. She was born in Mountain View, CA and grew up in the Bay Area. Three years ago, she relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina and now lives the nomadic lifestyle work/traveling throughout South America. Kristin's personal transformation through travel has fueled her journey as a coach. She enjoys yoga, travel, music, reading, exploring new cultures and constantly learning & expanding.

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