“Life is a waiting room of suffocating uncertainty.” – anonymous
I have now been sheltering in place for three months. Keeping active physically and mentally has been quite the challenge yet I push myself to keep taking care. My mood has been relatively positive although I notice that so many others have gotten grumpy, quick-tempered, anxious, or depressed. How about you? How have you been coping with these unusual, extraordinary circumstances?
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we have been forced to redefine what we deem as normal. Getting together with friends over coffee or a meal, daily trips to the grocery store, exercising outside or going to the gym, attending classes and/or religious services are all things we took for granted that may no longer be viable options if we want to stay healthy. Yes, we will be able to resume these activities again someday; just not anytime soon – at least without restrictions. Social distancing is a term and practice we will live with for quite some time. Zoom will remain our mode of communication versus in person gatherings of groups more than ten or thereabouts.
It is concerning the toll this is all taking on our mental health, our waistlines, and our wallets. Here are some of my suggestions for how to minimize this strain:
- Save $ – Take advantage of not being able to go out to dinner, shop, or travel and put that extra money aside. Recognize things like the fact that you don’t need to shop for clothes since you’re not going out. Only purchase what you need, not necessarily what you want. Remember how your parents always said to save for a rainy day? Well, it’s storming outside, and your saved pennies will help with the rise in expenses connected to staying home more than usual. Of course, you do want to support your local restaurants and shops when you do make purchases.
- Stay economically smart – Not only continue to save, stop watching the stock market every minute of every day. If you’re an investor, try only checking on the markets once a day at the end of the trading period. Remind yourself that this is a volatile time and if you ride it out, you’ll probably end up okay. My grandfather and father taught me to invest and forget. Not to keep buying and selling while trying to second-guess how the markets will behave.
- Stay positive – in this negative world much of what I call noise is on the television and computer. Our politics are so polarized that people can hardly have a reasonable conversation any more with anyone who is not like-minded. We used to be able to agree to disagree and learn from each other. My how times have changed. It’s sad, in my opinion. To minimize the anxiety that this can cause, try limiting your exposure to the news. Like the stock markets, only tune in once a day to check on what major events you may have missed. Otherwise, find something relaxing like watching a movie or reading a good book to occupy your time. Focus on facts, tune out the noise, and find ways to not let it upset you.
- Be part of the solution, not the problem. Stop complaining and figure out what you can do to make the situation better. For example, regarding politics, VOTE!! Regarding COVID-19, stay home and when you do go out, wear a mask and gloves. Find ways to stay busy and productive, stay well, and don’t expose others in the off chance you are infected without realizing it. If we all work together as a community, we will survive and hopefully thrive.
- Put a support system in place – there is healing power in togetherness and connectedness. Not everyone is able to shelter in place with a loved one, caregiver, or friend. Many are alone. Being alone physically does not mean you have to be lonely. I have been reaching out to family and friends via email, text, phone and Zoom. It is a wonderful, safe way to remain connected. And soon, it appears we will all be able to gather in small groups from a socially acceptable distance. And when there is a vaccine (like we have for the flu) we will once again be able to venture out into the world more freely.
“When I is Replaced by We, Illness Becomes Wellness.” – Malcolm X
Be Present | Be Purposeful | Be Well