There's no getting around it; with this pandemic, we're in the middle of a slow moving disaster. It seems as if every aspect of our lives is upended, I know it seems that way for me. And it seems the news changes daily as health officials struggle to try to predict where this is going. We don’t know how long things are going to be disrupted, or what the final impact will be. As unpredictable as things are, it’s important to focus on those areas where you can exercise some control and make positive choices for yourself, and find ways to think positively.
One thing that helps me is to remind myself that we’re all going through this together. In the end, it might mean some drastic changes in our way of life, but there could be some positives with those changes. Also, with everybody affected, it looks like Washington is looking at some possible solutions. Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau recently issued an order to freeze mortgage, rent and utility payments, so that people won’t lose their homes. There are also other safety nets in place, and perhaps others to come. If you want to feel like you’re doing something, contact your elected officials and let them know your concerns, and what you want them to do, and ask them questions about what is being done.
Like everybody else, my social connections and hangouts have almost all been closed, and I’m scrambling to figure out what I can do in its place. I was reminded by a Facebook ad that the parks are still open, just stay 6 feet or more away from others, and the playgrounds are closed. You can still go for walks, or roller blade if you’re in to that. Once it gets warmer I know I’ll be getting my bike out quite a bit.
One thing I focus on in hard times is food, and not comfort foods, at least not the kind people typically think of. I’ve found that concentrating on whole grains, vegetables and good kinds of protein carries me through tough times far better than donuts or chips. I especially like the South Beach Diet for healthy eating. It’s Mediterranean-based and enhanced with spices and herbs instead of fats and sugars, which leaves your blood sugars more stable, and in turn a more stable mood. I find that I just feel better when I adhere to this diet, and I find it easy to follow. The recipes are so good I always want at least a second helping, and because of the ingredients, the beauty of it is that I can.
You can also plan your days out in blocks of time. Make a to-do list for the day. Include the important or urgent items as well as self-care activities and recreation. Try to schedule some time outdoors. Exercise and fresh air will boost your immunity as well as your mood.
Find ways to socialize. Have a few people over to play Farkle (a game sort of like Yatzee) and give players their own set of dice to throw. Reach out to friends on Facebook, call someone you think might be really having a hard time. I really liked the scene in Italy with citizens singing together on their balconies.
Limit how much time you spend watching the news or reading up on the virus. The news repeats itself probably 20 times an hour, meaning after the first 3 minutes they’re probably going to start repeating themselves. Spend time in spiritual reflection. If you practice a particular religion or spirituality, spend some time in reflection. Use literature, watch videos that you find reassuring or hopeful. It can certainly help to believe that someone bigger and more powerful is in charge. Having a strong faith can help you get through tough times and overcome challenges.
I’ve noticed some places hiring temporary workers. It might help your frame of mind to keep busy with something concrete. It might feel reassuring to be earning some extra money, or might be a way to be around people, especially if you live alone and are feeling extremely isolated.
I absolutely believe that we’ll get through this, that humans have endless capacity for creativity and innovation, and that people are basically well-intended by nature. When crisis hits, we come out of it one of three ways, either the same as before, or worse off, or better. Let’s aim for the better.