I would not typically describe myself as an anxious person. I’m very aware of the words I choose to describe myself to keep from minimizing the serious mental difficulties others may face. This week however has driven me to a level of worry that it had become all consuming. I found myself endlessly googling the spreading coronavirus as if there would be new advice or guidelines published every fifteen minutes. And when I was not fixated on the pandemic I was ruminating on my disappointment at the US primary results thus far. I found I was struggling to engage with my children who are too young to understand the state of the world and only want their mommy to play with them. My patience was almost nonexistent, I was making not only myself miserable but those around me pretty unhappy too.
I’m not a religious person but I do recognize the importance of nurturing our minds, bodies and souls and that ignoring any of the three, diminishes the resilience of the others. Once I recognized that I was overwhelming my mind with information which negatively impacted my spirit and my body (I consumed nothing but coffee for the first 12 hours I was awake yesterday), I realized I needed to do something. I decided I would stop viewing this only as a crisis and instead look for the silver lining; the entire world is being forced to take a step back from our over scheduled lives and to slow down, I plan to make the best of it.
Tonight our family ordered take out from a locally owned restaurant; we know the hospitality industry will suffer greatly over the next few weeks as community members socially isolate to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, it helped to think that our business could keep them afloat a little longer in difficult times. After dinner I placed my phone on the counter and went outside with my boys. We walked around our neighborhood and marveled at how the rain drops still clinging to the trees sparkled in the evening sunlight that had begun to burst through the overcast skies, we discussed the qualities of the perfect puddle for jumping in, we smiled and waved at neighbors and spoke to one from across the street. These few moments of mindfulness helped to ground me.
After the boys were asleep I received a text from an unexpected person who was just checking in on us to see if our family was prepared with the essentials and offering to share whatever they may have and we may not. As we hunker down in our respective homes knowing that we may be looking at weeks of social upheaval and isolation it is important to reach out to one another in safe ways, call your mother, facetime a friend, write your grandmother a letter, just don’t lick the stamp. Don’t let physical distance keep you from connecting with your community.
While most indoor places may seem unsafe right now, many of us are fortunate enough to live in places that have ample outdoor space we can enjoy. Walk your dog through a quiet neighborhood, play soccer in your yard, or drive to the woods or beach and explore. And if you’re confined in a very urban environment and even the streets seem unsafe remember to move your body, dance in your living room, do yoga in the space between your bed and the wall.
Use this unexpected down time to work on things you never have the time to do; Always wanted to write a book? Start it. Love drawing but don’t do it enough? Now’s the time! Is your “to be read” pile taller than you are? Bend a spine! Want to get a jump on spring cleaning? bust out the feather duster! (okay, this last one might just be a sugar coated excuse for sanitizing my home ceiling to floor but still!)
Don’t forget to nourish your body, take this extra time to prepare more labor intensive recipes you wouldn’t normally have the time to. Bring back the family dinner if its not common in your home, sit across from those you live with and connect. Bake something, start some seedlings. Focus on what you can control.
Remember, we can still smile at our neighbors, marvel at nature and nourish ourselves and one another, and for those reasons, despite everything, there is always hope.
Wishing you all health and peace of mind,