Welcome to the upside down. To say that we are living in a Stranger Things world would be a gross understatement. We are all creatures of habit and routine. Those reassuring rituals of life have been dramatically altered. We all know that – eventually – things will return to some semblance of normalcy. But, how do we cope with the here and now?
One of the biggest fears we face is loss of control. We’re Americans, dang it, and we can do whatever we want whenever we want. While that is not actually 100% true, it does frame our ethos. Now, we can’t even leave our homes or go to a ball game.
The other great stress inducer is fear. This one is particularly insidious because there is so much we do not know about COVID-19. We can’t see it. We don’t know exactly where it is. And, scientists are still learning about this virus. All this adds up to a very bad B movie script.
What can we do? There are a few things recommended by the CDC and Johns Hopkins (links below).
- Prepare, don’t panic. Pay attention to credible sources of information. Follow recommended guidelines for keeping you and your family safe. If it turns out to be an overreaction – so be it. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Take care of yourself. It is so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of information. We are bombarded moment by moment with stories of new cases and rising death totals. Take a break from the noise. Get outside and take a walk (yes, you can do that). Read a book. Meditate.
- Take care of your community. We all feel isolated. Reach out to friends, neighbors and loved ones. They are feeling this, too, and the old saw of “misery loves company” has never been truer. Also, if you can order out from local businesses. They really need our help.
- Eat right. One current joke goes that COVID-19 is about how much weight we will gain during the shutdown. Carbs are great stress relief (more chips, please!) but balance things out. You have some extra time. Experiment in the kitchen!
- If you have children – pay extra attention to them. Watch for behavioral changes. And, above all else – talk to them. Be reassuring.
- Nurture your relationships. Take care of each other but give each other space, as well. We are not used to spending 24/7 with our loved ones.
Stress can have a devasting effect on both the body and the mind. This is especially true for those who are currently unemployed. Be mindful of those around you who are experiencing this devastation.
We are – in no way – experts on how to cope with this situation. Living through huge crises like 9/11 and the DC sniper were stressful but could not prepare us for a situation as all encompassing as this.
What will get us through? A spirit of togetherness – we are all affected. And – information. We’ve included a couple of helpful links below.
Stay strong. We are all in this together. And, together we will come through it even stronger.