I keep trying to tell myself there will be a silver lining to all of this. Something good that will emerge from the rubble of chaos, fear and worse.
During the day I keep busy cooking and cleaning for my family. Domestic duties are not usually things I love (actually they are things I loathe), but the tasks comfort and distract me. When everyone is asleep and the house is finally quiet, I take a peek at the news on my phone. I’m trying to put a limit to the 24/7 doomsday news. I go to social media to see how others are dealing with this crisis. A time, we collectively say, we never thought we’d see in our lifetimes. The gravity of it all sinks in: the uncertainty, the helplessness, the waiting. I cry. I am so overwhelmed.
And my self-quarantine has only been going on a few days.
My chest is tight, but not from flu or virus. Anxiety is probably my greatest threat right now. I joke to my friends and family, if the coronavirus doesn’t do me in, my anxiety will. A sea of funny coronavirus memes floods my social media threads. Humor seems as vital as washing our hands right now. Though it’s hard to stay positive when my mind goes from “It’s going to be OK” to impending doom, the laughter gives a momentary reprieve.
After only a short period at home, I don’t even know what day it is anymore. Getting through the coronavirus crisis, even if we’re healthy, is going to take strength and fortitude. Here are a few helpful tips that can help you make the most of this trying time.
Adjust our attitudes and get busy: Most of us crave down time. Well, guess what, now we have it, so don’t squander it away. When the crisis passes, and it will, what will you have to show for it? We’re creatures of habit and now more than ever is a good time to create a routine for yourself and continue to set daily goals. Search around Instagram or other social media and get inspired by seeing how others are using this time to clean and organize their home, accomplish long-awaited projects, develop new skills (YouTube is a great resource). A new world is just a few Google clicks away. Enjoy board games and puzzles, read, keep a diary, and watch TV and Netflix.
Move our bodies: Crank up the music and dance. Explore online exercise videos. Seek nature. Get outside as much as possible (while safely maintaining social distance). If the weather permits (and spring couldn’t come any sooner), take a walk, eat outdoors, admire the flowers and enjoy the birds chirping.
Let go of perfection: If you have children at home, in times like this guilt-free parenting is key. TV and computers (as long as it’s not the news) are fine for kids. Don’t beat yourself up if you burn dinner or haven’t brushed your hair. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to tackle that pile of laundry. It’s OK. Take a breath.
Self-care: Take care and relax — even if it's just a few minutes soaking in the bath, sitting on the patio to read, or exercising or meditating. Try to carve some alone time, because it doesn’t take long to get on each other’s nerves when cooped up under the same roof. And the added stress of uncertainty makes it worse. Getting the proper amount of sleep is key to keeping yourself sane and healthy, so take advantage of naps, too, if you can. Pray if that quells your fears. Take a drive around the city just to see signs of life or to get some peace and quiet.
Find new ways to socialize: I haven’t spoken on the phone this much since I was twirling the long cord around my 16-year-old fingers. Plan FaceTime visits and lunch dates with friends. Sit at a comfortable 10- to 20-foot distance in your front yard or across the street with neighbors (even better if you both bring your favorite drink of choice). Get creative, because loneliness is a beast that will strike.
Use this time to reflect and plan for the future: To combat the blues, I’ve made a list of how I’m going to live my life differently when all this clears. I’ve asked myself what I missed most, what did I wish I had that would have helped me live better, and how can I be a better person.
Most of all, help others: When I feel most afraid, helping others soothes my soul. It can be donating to local food banks; buying only what I really need so I don’t take from others; giving extra-large tips when picking up food or coffee; checking on friends, family, neighbors and older relatives. There is no greater mood booster. We are in this together.