The sky is so blue today. There are few clouds, and it’s warm, verging on hot. A little breeze is blowing, and it seems like the kind of day to take it slow, relax with friends and family, and enjoy the moment. Then, like a freight train, the truth comes roaring through – COVID-19. This isn’t a day to while away the hours without worry, we’re all sitting at home, worrying.
I’m worried about my father, a doctor who goes to the hospital daily in NYC. My brother comes to mind daily, whose office was closed because someone was positively diagnosed and is now at home with his pregnant wife. Like so many people around the world, they’re trying to work and care for their young son. And I worry about my other siblings and their children and my friends spread across the country and the world. I’m worried about all of them. Today, I don’t personally know anyone who’s been diagnosed or anyone who’s in the throes of the illness or worse, died. I wonder how many weeks it will be before we all know someone. More than one someone.
Worry isn’t changing anything except for my blood pressure, which I’m sure is rising.
Looking out my window this morning at the beautiful day, an enormous spider took over my field of vision, and I couldn’t focus on anything else. This spider would usually only show up in nightmares and was definitely not the kind that you gently shoo into a cup to release back into the wild. This spider would laugh if you even tried. There was the blue-sky day marred by the spider of horrific proportions like our lives and COVID-19.
The World is Obsessed with CAN’T
The one thing the world is focused on besides obsessively reading the news is all the things we CAN’T do. We can’t go to restaurants, the gym, or the movies. Nearly half the world’s children CAN’T go to their schools or have playdates with their friends. In many parts of the world, we also CAN’T leave our homes.
So what CAN you do? What simple, powerful, and positive things are in your control?
Change your perspective
In Judaism, there is something called a mitzvah – a good deed. What if staying home wasn’t a hardship (yes, it can still be rough) but a mitzvah? By staying home, you are helping your family stay healthy and the community too. Grandparents, people with chronic conditions and who are immunocompromised will all benefit from your commitment to staying home as much as possible. You save on gas and contribute to saving lives at the same time. Talk about a win-win.
Reach out to friends old and new on the phone, FaceTime, email, and any other virtual way you can. You may be alone in your home, but you don’t have to isolate yourself from connection with others. People need connection – reach out and invite it instead of waiting. There is someone you know who is struggling and needs to hear from you.
Learn something daily
It doesn’t have to be fancy or smart or life-changing, just new to you. One thing that was new to me today? Netflix Party. Did you know you could watch a Netflix movie with friends while staying in your own home? Well, you can! Maybe what I learn tomorrow will be a little deeper or perhaps a simple, time-saving tip, but why not rack up the learning instead of judging what’s worthy and tossing the rest?
Remember your mental health
This is the most challenging time for our world that most of us have lived through. A little self-care goes a long way. Take early morning or evening walks, read a book, meditate, cook something delicious, exercise, or whatever is going to help you. There is no one size fits all. Whatever you choose, don’t do it with loads of other people and do it because it makes you feel good.
Embrace the best of gamer life
My son is a gamer, and he has an online posse. They talk on discord daily and often go on shared missions. You can cultivate your online posse too. Don’t fall into a black hole on FB, reading post after post about the coronavirus, comment on each one, and suck up all of your time. Instead, you can and should collaborate despite physical distance. Set missions and tackle them together; it feels amazing.
If things are still open where you live, support them. Can’t go to a restaurant? You can buy a gift card to use later. Can’t go anywhere? Commit to supporting local when the outbreak is behind us. Yes, Amazon can have whatever you need on your doorstep while you blink but the store in town? They may have what you need too. When you can do it again, support the heck out of your local small businesses to help them get back on their feet.
Thank the people who work at your grocery store, and don’t forget your pharmacist. People working hard to serve you while you’re safe at home. Speaking of which, while you’re there, try not to be critical of the people who you don’t usually spend all day with because they’re driving you nuts. Here’s the thing: You can choose kindness no matter what.
Remember people are listening
You’re stressed, can’t believe the latest news updates. I’m right there with you. Your kids are listening. Not to mention the people at the grocery store, strangers you pass while venting into your cell phone in the store parking lot, they are all listening. Stress and negativity are contagious, and so are positivity and hope.
Help a neighbor
Some people can’t get to the store. Maybe they have a disability, or they’re high risk so they can’t leave their house at all. The same goes for people who are currently ill and others in self-quarantine. If you’re going to the store or even getting a delivery, put the word out that you can pick up for your neighbors too. Get their list emailed to you and drop it on their doorstep; no contact required. A friend of mine posted on FB that she and her children were ready to help. People she knows and those she does not, it doesn’t matter. She asked anyone who needs her to get in touch. That’s all they have to do. You and I can do that too.
Share your TP
Where most of us live, at least some shelves are bare (especially the ones where we usually have TP). At my store today, there were empty shelves in almost every category. We have strict buying limits in place now in all of the national chains. I was lucky, and I stocked up before the restrictions were put in place. My child’s teacher couldn’t run to the store during the day, or the doctors and nurses caring for patients at the hospital, and now they’re left with dregs. When you have enough, leave some for others so everyone can have enough. If you’re well-stocked, offer to give some to others in your community who need it if you can.
No one knows what the future will bring or when or if COVID-19 will disappear. It’s anyone’s guess when we’ll have a vaccine or even enough testing kits in some regions. Every expert says it’s bad now and going to get worse. Don’t forget that even though that’s true, it’s also true that this will eventually end. Focus on what you CAN do, what’s in your control, and how you choose to respond to those things that are not.
Stop focusing on the spider and let yourself see the blue sky again. That’s what I’m trying to do and hope that you’ll do it too. It’s the best we can do.
If anyone wants to talk, vent, brainstorm, laugh, cry, or anything in between, I’m here for you – not as a coach but as another human. We don’t have to know each other, and you don’t have to hire me, there’s no sample session or hidden agenda. If you want to, let’s talk.