So the world seems a bit crazy right now, right?
It’s very easy to be frightened and it’s also very understandable to feel that way. And precisely because we are all in this together, it’s even scarier because it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that not a single continent on our planet is getting out of this pandemic unscathed. And an invisible disease amongst us is certainly a horrible thought.
But so are phrases like “the new normal”, implying that we will never again be able to hug our grandparents or that our neighbor with leukemia will be permanently stuck in the house. This kind of dialog doesn’t serve our social souls and only goes unnoticed by the most introverted among us. And the projection of the most extreme of outcomes does not help us to consider what we need to be doing to steel ourselves to rebuild when we come out of this.
We need a strategy for our personal lives, our connections and our social beings to be able to weather the storm. Here are some dos and, as important, some don’ts that hopefully will help give us a strategy to manage through this and allow us to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Personal Strategy Do's
…take care of you and your families and do reach out to those you know are weathering this storm alone. Giving support to others helps us forget your fears and gives a sense of community when it is most needed. For yourself, find an activity that you enjoy and, to the extent you can, do it with abandon. Getting lost in something you love helps you take care of your outlook and keep it positive. In addition, use that energy to pass on to those in your circle.
Children can be especially vulnerable when they see their parents frightened. Try not to pass on your angst and pull from your positive side when they begin to ask questions. Be realistic but hopeful.
For those who have small children at home, give yourself a break. Many have turned into teachers overnight without the benefits of actually knowing how to teach some of the subjects. Many more are also working at the same time. Add to this the need to make sure there’s enough food in the house or the worry that because a job is lost, food may run out, and many are navigating a lot of stress.
Give yourself a break and do the best you can to ensure you and your family are taken care of to the best of your ability. Then let the rest go and focus on keeping yourself on an even keel.
…listen to someone’s fears if they are frightened but don’t build on those fears. If someone is building a doomsday scenario, hear them out and validate their concern but don’t add to it. When you believe you’ve heard what they need you to listen to, ask them if there is something to be done. If they say they don’t know, help them to think through the panic. Ask questions that can help them find solutions. If they say there’s nothing to be done, ask why? Many people are facing the losses of their livelihoods. What can you help them do to think about a plan to alleviate or reduce the effects of their worries?
…get exercise. I know you’ve heard this a million times before because I’ve read it a million times in articles myself. And there’s a good reason for that. It makes a difference. Keep your distance but walk. If you can, walk outside… There are tons of free exercise apps you can call up on your phone. If you have a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime, type in ‘fitness’ and you’ll get all kinds of 7, 10 and 25 minute workouts. You can choose to exercise anything: your abs, your glutes, your heart and lungs. Whatever you choose, do it until your muscles are tired and your lungs feel full. Doing something healthy in times of a health crisis just makes sense and is a good way to help you sleep at night. If you can’t exercise, mediate. There are also many things on-line that are free and can help you through the meditative process. Do also, wash your hands, keep them away from your face, clean the surfaces in your house and stay at home.
OK, now for the other side…
Personal Strategy Don’ts
…panic. In almost every scenario where severe consequences seemed all but imminent, those who kept their heads beat the odds. In potentially dangerous hobbies (skydiving, scuba diving) the first thing they say when they train you is if something goes wrong, don’t panic. Panic doesn’t allow you to think clearly and examine what options you have to come up with solutions to the problem. It’s also bad to introduce that kind of stress on your body. Do what you have to do to keep a clear head. It’s very important. Talk about your anxiety with someone who can talk you through it.
…watch news 24/7 or even 12/7. Stay informed, stay cautious, stay inside but don’t stay up to date on every bad story. It’s just not helpful. Make sure you listen to people with knowledge of the situation who are positioned to understand what’s happening. Just because someone has an opinion doesn’t mean it’s an informed one. Stay focused on facts and then turn whatever you’re watching off. Speculation is not helpful to anyone.
…recycle doomsday predictions. Look for the good stories about what to do during the shelter in place.
If you like animals try watching this baby elephant.
If you like music, watch this trombone jam.
…ever forget your sense of humor! Laughter is a great remedy for almost any fear and if you can find people, movies, video clips that make you laugh, you are using one of nature’s best weapons to contribute to your health, your well-being and your overall outlook.
Don’t expect to be superhuman. You can’t be all things to everyone. Many people who work outside the home aren’t used to mixing their professional life with their personal life. While some situations can make you laugh, It can be a challenge, it can be fun and it can be very stressful. Do your best to keep a balance and when things get out of sync, step back and take a breath. Treat yourself to ½ hour of time to yourself. If you live with someone and children, arrange a time where each of you can take a break.
If you have children and no one to help with them, take your time when they are sleeping. Turn your devices off and focus on doing something that returns your sense of calm and tranquility.
This will pass. Hopefully it will make us stronger and more appreciative of the community we have.