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Coronavirus-Avoiding Despair

I can’t imagine a place in the world that isn’t aware of this pandemic called COVID-19, the newest coronavirus. It doesn’t care if you are young, old, male, female, an immigrant, a national, a billionaire, homeless, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Agnostic. This virus infects whomever it comes in contact with.

Even if you are normally a calm, resilient person, it’s easy to get caught up in the insane panic that has gripped the country and the world. Yes, this virus is an indiscriminate killer. Before it’s over, very few of us won’t know someone who’s life has been changed by this virus.

While you are sheltering in place, if you have the 24/7 news channels on, are on social media, or searching the internet for the latest updates all day, I am more concerned about your mental health than your physical.

There is tons of information out “there” about this coronavirus and it is changing hourly. Some of it is accurate, some complete misinformation and some that is true right now but will be different in a short time. Yes, this is something with negative consequences.

As someone living their life with Radical Responsibility & Awesome Appreciation, first and foremost, I want to understand what I can control in this pandemic. To know this, we need to stay informed. However, staying informed does not mean hearing or reading every word about the topic. I, personally, have limited my research to 30 minutes a day. I find that I can get the highlights about it without constantly being bombarded with the fear.

I remember doing the same with 9/11. Some people were immobilized, watching CNN all day, seeing those planes hit the twin towers over and over and over again, all day long. Then there were the interviews with family members. It was torturous. I only watched 10 minutes a day, on purpose. I knew people who were unable to pull themselves away from watching the horror day after day. Mentally speaking, I know I fared much better.

For those of you who know me, you know I constantly preach about the GLOW and I’ve been racking my brain trying to get to what the GLOW of this virus could be. We have choices:

  • We can shelter in place or bravely ignore the warnings, possibly infecting and killing other people before we even have symptoms; if you’re a younger, healthy person, you may never show symptoms.
  • We can hoard supplies or we can share what we have with our neighbors.
  • We can complain about having our children home from school or we can be happy they are not at risk being in a building with all the other kids.
  • We can pull all our money out of investments or we can trust the market to rebound when this is over.
  • We can consume the news 24/7 or we can watch trusted news sources in limited amounts.
  • We can focus on the inconvenience of all this or we can focus on its positives.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be doing the following:

  • Sheltering in place.
  • Sharing with neighbors.
  • Giving thanks that my grandchildren are home with their parents.
  • Trusting the market.
  • Checking once a day on COVID-19 updates with credible news sources.
  • Focusing on positives.

This is what I’ve discovered so far:

  1. Remember all the things there are for you to complain about? You have time to make your list of 100 Things You’re Grateful For… I did mine already.
  2. Remember when you used to spend hours chatting on the phone with your friends and family before text messaging? Maybe you can catch up with your friends with a Facetime or a phone call.
  3. Remember complaining about the kids and their screen time? Now you have time to teach them all the fun things you did to amuse yourself as a child.
  4. Remember lamenting that work is so demanding, you have no time for your family? If you are working from home, you will have that commute time to spend with your people.
  5. Remember wanting to lose some weight? With restaurants closing, there will be fewer social gatherings, people will eat healthier and consume smaller portions.
  6. Remember all the money you spend on socializing with friends and eating out? Now you can save that money for your future.
  7. Remember all those things you’ve wanted to do but just haven’t found time for? You can use this sheltering in place as a newfound freedom, rather than a prison sentence by reading that book, watching that movie, completing that project—whatever is on your “I’ll Get to That Someday” list.
  8. Remember being worried about global warming? I was also reminded that this could be the new reset to our environment. With factories closing and airplanes grounding, surely our carbon footprint is shrinking, at least a bit. The canals have cleared in Venice and dolphins have returned; the skies have cleared in China and they can see the sun without smog.
  9. Remember wondering why you don’t know your neighbors anymore? We can become healthier by going for neighborhood walks, waving to people from a safe distance and seeing if they might need anything.
  10. Can you remember how good it feels to spend time in nature? It’s recommended now—take a walk, jog, go fishing, go kayaking or have a picnic. Sunshine and vitamin D will do you good.
  11. Do you remember the last time you meditated? I have been spending a lot of my time reflecting and meditating about what is truly important.
  12. Remember complaining about our country’s president? It’s possible this virus will lead to the change in leadership many have been calling for.
  13. Remember thinking you might be bored while sheltering in place? Perhaps you can create a new art form… maybe experiment with that excess toilet paper you may just have around your house! But, jokes aside, see if an elderly member of your community could use it, as the stores were picked over before many of them were able to safely shop.

The point is, this coronavirus doesn’t have to be the most horrible thing to ever happen to civilization. It’s like every other event in our known universe. It is completely balanced, just like the periodic table of elements, with equal positive and negative charges. Will you join me in resisting the negative and, instead, focusing on the positive? After, that is, the 10 to 30 minutes you spend daily to inform yourself. People are surely suffering, but the world is challenging us—humanity—to work together and protect each other.

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