I’m on day ten of lock-down as I’m writing this post.
Like you, I’m still reeling from the chaos that the coronavirus has unleashed on all of us and doing my best to make sense of everything that’s happening around me and the people I love.
I hope you’re reading this while safely tucked away at home, healthy and supported by friends and family, with everything you need.
There’s a sense of helplessness that I’ve been grappling with as I read, watch and hear the never-ending stream of news about people falling sick, dying and losing their jobs.
But on the other hand, I’m seeing plenty of silver linings along the way. Silver linings in the form of people coming together to get through this pandemic.
More people than ever are looking out for each other, and others who have less than them.
Recognition and gratitude that’s often reserved for the rich and ‘successful’ (by society’s shallow standards anyway) is finally shifting to our everyday heroes who risk their lives for others while they go about their jobs, usually without anyone noticing.
And the rest of us who are on lock-down at home are re-discovering — many for the first time in a very long time — how to slow down and connect with not only with the people we care about, but ourselves.
Who would’ve thought that it would take a pandemic to get us to appreciate the little (but magical) things in life?
Still, this is no time for any of us to be careless or complacent.
More than ever, it’s time for all of us to step up, get informed and do our part in helping humanity overcome this health crisis we’re facing.
As this need for us to step up becomes more urgent, I’m becoming more vigilant by:
- Avoiding public places and crowds
- Working from home
- Shopping for my groceries online whenever possible
- Disinfecting every package and piece of mail that arrives on our doorstep
- Not travelling
- Washing my hands regularly and thoroughly
These measures I’m taking may sound extreme, but given its severity in comparison to the flu and how easily the coronavirus spreads, I’d rather overreact than be nonchalant and contribute to a devastating outcome.
FINDING CALM IN CHAOS
With news headlines (legitimate and fake) coming our way at a what feels like a million miles a minute, it’s easier than ever to give in to the panic, fear and chaos they incite.
But while rationally overreacting by scooping up a couple of extra cans of baked beans ‘just in case’ (please don’t hoard though) is one thing, allowing things that are beyond our control to negatively affect our mental and emotional well-being is another.
So what can you do to take your power back?
I don’t have all the answers, but I’m doing my best to adapt quickly as the situation unravels, and am finding strength as well as comfort in the steps I’m about to share with you:
1. Don’t believe everything you see, read or hear.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be useful ways to stay in touch and in the know, but they can also encourage fake (very unhelpful) news to spread like wildfire.
Whenever possible, stick to reputable and responsible information sources like The Atlantic, World Health Organisation (WHO), NPR and The New York Times to stay informed and make informed decisions.
2. Focus on what you can control.
You can’t stop the the world’s skyrocketing coronavirus infections, but there are things you can do to keep yourself, your family and your community safer.
This is the perfect opportunity to figure out what your circle of control is, then channel your energy into fortifying and widening it instead of allowing constant worrying to drain your energy.
3. Practice being present.
More than ever, we’re worrying about the past (what if I picked up the virus from the shopping cart I used last week?) and future (what if I my family gets sick?).
With all this time traveling we’re doing in our minds, we’re probably not spending nearly enough time in the present.
And because there’s so much uncertainty around the corner, maybe it’s finally time we gave ourselves permission to enjoy the little things that make life worth living right now. Not the promise of tomorrow, or the day after that.
Start talking to your kids (or parents) more. Start meditating. Start playing that guitar you bought 6 months ago. Re-connect with a friend you haven’t spoken to in months. Or maybe learn how to do nothing for a change.
Life is happening in this very moment you’re in and every moment is gone in mere seconds, so why not make them meaningful?
4. Start thinking about how you can get better with money.
The biggest economic engines of the world are literally at a standstill right now, entire industries are shutting down and people everywhere are losing their jobs.
This means that relying 100% on your job for financial security is no longer a viable option and it’s become very obvious that having a significant cash cushion on hand (for me, this is stashing at least a year’s worth of living expenses away) for hard times as well as a means of keeping your spending in check are musts, moving forward.
I do realise that that’s a very privileged thing to say considering millions of people around the world are panicked about keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.
If this is you, please accept the big, virtual (and very socially responsible) bear hug I’m sending your way right now, and know this: There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help — if you live in the U.S, benefits.gov is a good place to start (Iheartbudgets has also put together an excellent resource guide for Americans here), and if you’re in the U.K., citizensadvice.org can help.
If you’re lucky enough to still be employed, now’s the time to start prioritising your peace of mind by cutting your expenses to the bare minimum and shoring up on cash savings in anticipation of more difficult times to come.
5. Be prepared for your worst-case scenario.
This is something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind for the past couple of weeks.
What if one of us gets exposed to the virus? What if one of us, or all of us get sick?
For me, this has meant getting familiar with my country’s quarantine and emergency procedures, as well as making sure we have enough food items like vegetables, protein, rice and pasta (fresh, frozen and canned), vitamins, medication and personal care as well as home cleaning supplies to last up to a month.
Am I overreacting? Probably. But am I likely to regret overreacting? Probably not.
Stay home, stay safe and stay well, my friends.
TAKE THE 7-DAY CALM MIND CHALLENGE.
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Photos: Mat Reding/Unsplash ; Brian McGowan/Unsplash