During the COVID-19 emergency, what are the best tactics we can employ to manage stress? These are my recommendations, plus one bonus: meditate! In just 2 minutes, Mingyur Rinpoche teaches how to meditate anytime, anywhere. As little as 1 minute makes a real difference.
- Create a Routine.
Many people now need to create for themselves a routine that is normally structured by work and school schedules. Without routine, we can easily fall into lethargy and then depression, once the novelty of this “at-home work-vacation” wears off. (If you have kids at home, it will wear off very quickly. Perhaps within hours.)
That routine needs to include regular mealtimes, work/school hours, physical exercise, bathing, and wearing something other than your bathrobe. (I’m getting in the shower and putting on real clothes as soon as I hit send on this!)
- Focus on what you can control.
Dee Caffari has spent up to 6 months alone on the open ocean, with no control over most of the things that could suddenly appear and kill her. She has some great advice on how to stay calm in a crisis: “Don’t waste energy worrying about things that are outside your control.”
Do what you can, right where you are. You don’t have the money, power, or authority to fix the world’s problems – but you can do good right where you’re at. Contribute what you can; together our actions and voices are powerful.
Prepare, but don’t hoard – panic buying disrupts normal supply chains. Here’s a printable list of the things you do need in the house in order to hunker down for 2-4 weeks. And here’s a great grocery shopping list.
That shopping list does not include 240 rolls of toilet paper. (Why is this a thing? I don’t know, but as Johnny Carson discovered in 1973, in the midst of a national crisis, even a stray joke can launch a toilet-paper-buying frenzy in this country.)
- Help with cash.
Are you still employed? Can you spare some cash? The best way to help organizations is cash. Donated goods burden organizations in times of crisis, especially when many volunteers can’t come out to sort and distribute them. The Post has released a comprehensive list of organizations who are doing great work on the ground with those who most need help. This includes millions of low-income children who depend on now-closed schools for food.
Your community undoubtedly has local organizations who need our support, too. We can also look for GoFundMe sites for laid off restaurant and service workers.
- Help by connecting.
If it’s safe for you to do so, check on your neighbors. The elderly and those with preexisting health conditions may not be able to go out for essentials such as food and medicine; they need our help. They may also be suffering from loneliness; we can find ways to stay connected. Some of us can also answer calls for emergency fostering from our local animal shelters, calls for volunteers to help the homeless, or calls for Meals on Wheels volunteers to bring food and wellness checks to homebound seniors. And, of course, stay connected via phone and video-conferencing with your friends, coworkers, and family.
- Limit news consumption.
Constantly watching cable news or checking social media every hour for updates is not good for our mental or emotional health. Pick one or two times a day – and one or two reputable, reliable sources – to check the news. Take a few minutes to see what’s new. Then turn it off.
- Find joy and hope!
Learn a new hobby, or rediscover an old one. Find music concerts online. Listen to free audiobooks from your local library. Rediscover old-school games you can play with at home with family; or, discover new games you can play online with distant friends and family. Look for ways to make a difference – dare to hope. Joy and hope are not frivolous in times of crisis; they’re essential.