There’s no doubt these are challenging times, with unpredictable circumstances we can not control. Under this new “normal”, like 90% of the population in US I followed the advice of CDC and community leaders. I stocked my fridge and kitchen cabinets with food and I completed the preparations for “lockdown” before I started to work remotely. I am an educator in a public school, therefore there is a structure when working remotely, where I need to comply with a daily schedule with my school. The daily schedule helped me have a smooth transition from face-to-face working situation at a building to online working scenario. What is boosting my sense of calmness is a sense of gratitude I brought into this experience. I needed to find the lesson or goodness behind these current events.

 I realized that under these circumstances I find myself, and my family in a privilege situation where we have a home to stay, and food to nourish ourselves. I still have time to do things I deliberately choose that help me pull myself out of a self-centered mindset. Remembering that there are many others around the world who are lacking basic needs at the same time they are dealing with COVID 19, helps me put my situation in perspective. When normality returns, I will have developed a sense of appreciation for the things that I took for granted before our lockdown (a hug, a hand-shake, a walk in the park, a kiss, sharing portions of food with relatives, among many others).

 On Saturday night,  I read a post from a nurse in New Jersey who received a prank call. The person who called asked her if she would like to receive sewed masks, because it was not secret that health care professionals need equipment and supplies due to a shortage. She shed happy tears in the conversation and when she said yes that she would love to receive the homemade masks, the person on the other line hung up. Hours before I read that, I texted a friend who is a nurse offering my help by doing exactly what the caller mentioned.  As a result of that cruel incident, I asked fellow community members in New Jersey, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Texas, Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, India, Kenya and South Africa to volunteer to create masks for nurses and distribute them in their communities. I found a fun activity to do at home that helps me to keep a positive attitude while helping a cause. Our health professionals in the frontlines are at risk due to equipment shortage.  

I am connecting daily with family and relatives that do not live in my state. We share our daily routines, we chat, we laugh, and we review the news, but we do not make the news the center of our conversations. It is important to have correct facts, but not to develop an uncontrollable paralyzing panic as a result of reading, listening and viewing breaking news every 20 minutes about COVID 19. That panic distorts our judgement and makes us behave and make decisions from a place of fear. Fear and panic impact our bodies that start to show signs of physical symptoms as a result of psychological stress. Our level of cortisol increases from stress, and fear. Fear can bring us illnesses. Fear can impact our humanity and the waywe relate to others by making us act in discriminatory ways towards someone who sneezes or coughs. Physical distancing, more than social distancing is what we must practice. We can release our stress if we stay in the present and take at least 3 deep breaths when anxiety starts kicking in. This is the time to really act and be mindful with ourselves and of each other. Treat yourself and others from a place of love, care, kindness, but not fear.