By David Jones
An infectious disease is making the rounds, and I’m facing the same concerns many of you are.
I’ve got kids and grandkids living with us, and we’re going through the toilet paper apace. My workplace (Department of Homeland Security) is working on beefing up our tele-work capabilities. We’re all taking this seriously.
I’m a person who has trouble with intrusive thoughts and chronic anxiety, so this isn’t a cakewalk for me. I haven’t engaged my weighted blanket yet, but it is on stand-by. As I look at my news feed I see I’m not alone, but I think mindfulness might help.
Mindfulness focuses on choosing intentional action instead of reflexive reaction, which helps us manage fear and panic. It emphasizes our connection to each other and the world, even if we are physically isolated. It emphasizes embracing things as they really are (not how we wish or expect them to be). It encourages compassion.
Having compassion towards others is vital, but what about showing compassion to yourself? If you’re facing a quarantine where you live, here are some thoughts to help ease the impact.
1. Time at home can be productive time for self-care. I’m turning to my writing and reading, things folks often say they never have time for. What have you been meaning to do around the house?
2. Get outside at least once per day. Even if you can’t go to social gathering spots, a brief walk around the block, the yard, or even your porch is good for your mind and body.
3. Open up your house if weather permits. Freshening the air in your house can help with physical, mental, and emotional health.
4. Watch for worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression. If you need help, get help. I’ve called toll-free numbers for folks having a mental health crisis, and there’s no shame in it.
5. Consider taking a free online course on something you’ve always wanted to do. A quick search can provide you with a nice list of free courses online for a boggling array of subjects.
6. Watch that social media habit. Social media can be your only contact with some folks in your life and might be vital to helping stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation. But if you find yourself focusing too much on alarming headlines, it might be best to pull back.
7. Look for some simple exercises you can do to keep cardiovascular health in mind. Your health is about more than viruses.
8. Get groceries delivered if possible. There are a few options available through some major stores. If you need to, let the store know to leave the groceries outside and you can pick them up after the delivery person leaves.
9. Be proactive about communicating with utilities, service providers and loan providers. If you can’t work and have no income, let them know. When I was without income due to government shutdown, all my creditors were happy to work with me so long as I kept them informed.
10. Serve others. Can you do something for someone else, like help a child who needs help with homework while school is strictly online? Can you run to the store for someone? Can you fix a meal for someone who’s struggling?
11. Establish some form of routine for each day. Keeping a regular bedtime/waking time and regular mealtimes usually help. Maybe calling someone at the same time every day or so can help you both maintain some structure.
12. Make time to laugh. I can’t stress this one enough. For example, I watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax shows as a way to help keep my spirits up. Text jokes to friends. Make funny videos and share them online. Things that make others laugh could be just what the doctor ordered.
13. Pray, meditate or embrace periods of calm silence if you can. Whatever traditions you have to engage with the positive in life, embrace them.
14. Remember this crisis will not last forever. There was a time the current crisis didn’t yet exist, and there will be a time when it passes. Until then, take care of yourself and each other. A lot of people are seeing their lives turned upside down and yours might be doing the same.
By focusing on what you can do instead of what you can’t, you can minimize the impact this crisis has on you and those you love. And remember, social distancing is only a physical thing—work diligently to keep it from being anything else.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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