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Living in a COVID-19 Pandemic: Contact with friends and family-even if virtual-can help us pull through these difficult times.
The song that keeps reverberating through my head is “It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine…” by R.E.M. What a thought-provoking song if you read the words on YouTube. This COVID-19 crisis is truly nerve-wracking. Today, my dentist sent a text that the Governor of Ohio notified them that only patients with pain will be seen for now. Another dentist closed his shop for the duration. This is sobering. But, I do get it. They have to do something to get a grip on this insidious illness before it is too late.
I know you are afraid about how you are going to pay your bills. That is a legitimate fear. I wish I had the words that would give you comfort and peace in this unsettling time. When the world goes through a crisis like this, there are no answers. We don’t know what is going to happen next.
What do you do to combat the anxiety that our society is collectively and individually feeling? Do you make a run on the grocery store and buy every roll of toilet paper you can get your hands on? I definitely encourage you to do some planning. If you don’t have much food in your house, stock up. I went to the grocery store yesterday and saw aisles that were empty. There were signs throughout the store saying “Limit 2”. I am not quite sure why they would limit two bags of grapefruit, but it was there. It felt random, but I am sure the store had its reasons. Have you ever been to a grocery store that had empty shelves before? The silence was eerie. People were not talking, just walking around in a daze trying to figure out what to buy.
What can you do to combat your fears? Contact friends and family. It is very easy to reach people nowadays. They are desperate for human interaction. You can hold family dinners online where you all eat your meal in front of the laptop and spend time together. There are many free conference calling platforms. I am running a book club online since it is safer than meeting up. When current events are frightening, human interaction and connectivity is what is going to get us through this time.
Take a break from the news. I’m guilty of being addicted to finding out what is happening next. But, this breeds fear. Look for what will make you laugh. Here is an example. My husband had to pick Mark up from the airport. Mark had flown in from Canada to Chicago and then on to Cleveland. Mark texted my husband saying he had arrived at Cleveland Hopkins Airport at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. But, Mark wasn’t due in Cleveland until 11:30 p.m. My husband jumped in the car and raced to the airport. We live 30 minutes away. He got to the airport and found that Mark was still on the plane from O’Hare. Mark is an engineering professor who got on the plane in Chicago. He became absorbed with his iPad. At some point, he looked out the window and thought that he had landed in Cleveland. But, he had never taken off. I mean really? How can you not feel a plane take off, be in the air 45 minutes and then land? I am going to laugh about this over and over again. Him being an engineering professor makes it even more delicious. This is what I am talking about. Find what is funny and hang onto it.
What about exercising or figuring out how to deal with the stir crazy feeling of being inside? Go outside on walks. If you have snow, go play in the snow. Google or YouTube videos to do Zumba or aerobics in your home. Paint the coat closet. Clean the house. Refinish a cabinet. Watch cooking shows and improve your skills. The library sent out emails on how to download books, magazines, and videos. Play board games with your family. Look at all the things you never have time to do, and do them. Whereas it feels like life is slowing down, it is a gift in some ways. It is putting priorities straight and figuring out what is really important in your life. Look at what you are grateful for. Don’t fixate on limits or restrictions that are here or coming. That can make anyone agitated. Look at what you have control over and be creative.
When this is over, we will have a new normal. You don’t go through a crisis and then have everything return to normal. It is going to be different. Look for the blessings. It might be the people who are there for you and help you out. It could be anything. Just remember that you are going to get through this. Our country will get through this. And, we are going to do this together.
Share with me your feelings on living through this pandemic by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.