“You can either waste this period of social-distancing and be frustrated,
or you can choose to make it the best it can be.”
Sister Mary Catharine Perry
“I didn’t sign up for this,” my friend Pam said, frustrated. And yet, here we are. People are anxious, scared, bored, even feeling a bit unhinged. What to do? Here’s what my heart says:
- Still your body. Not by sitting and watching reruns on TV, but by doing an active practice. Take 36 very deep breaths. Meditate. Go on YouTube and look for Calming visualization for anxiety or Guided Imagery or Qigong sound healing. Then build the practice into a daily routine.
- Pray for yourself and those you love and all the people in the world going through this same crisis. Pray even if you don’t believe in God or have a prayer tradition. Pray to the Universe
- Walk – outside, if possible.
- Think deeply – to soften anger, shift to assuming you’re carrying the virus and asking “How can I not give it to anyone?” Moving from me focus to we focus, from inward to outward helps.
- Schedule worry time – no more than 30 minutes/day. During that scheduled time, worry away. Write down your worries. Then go about doing other things until 24 hours goes by.
- Clear your mind of critical and blaming thoughts. NO one caused this on purpose. This is the inevitable response of a world grown smaller and more interdependent. Look for things we can learn that make the shrinking world an advantage. How can we become more united and solve earth’s problems together?
- Stay in closer-than-usual touch with loved ones.
- Include the people in your own home, some of whom may be driving you nuts.
- Get off your phones and talk to each other. Plan new schedules together. Routines comfort us. I’ve heard some heartwarming stories of kids (even teenagers) taking daily walks with their parents, and playing games together or doing puzzles over several days.
- Have compassion for each person’s different experience of this totally new, seemingly upside-down reality.
- Get in touch with friends and family you’ve been thinking about. Forgive someone. Resentment takes up space in our brains and hearts we’re going to need.
- Clean your drawers, cupboards, refrigerator, files, bathroom, basement, garage. Cleaning and organizing, tossing out what’s no longer needed can calm anxieties and feel productive. Do this with other family members, and if you can, have fun with it. Laugh at what you find and toss.
- Clean your routine of too much news. It adds to anxiety. Reporters are scrambling too, so they grab and repeat what’s dramatic. 20 minutes/day is enough for me.
- Go back to past shelved projects. Awhile ago I started an iPhone Photography course. Resuming it will be fun.
- Paint, write, knit, carve.
- Put all your emotions into a poem.
- Garden – get your hands dirty. An old Russian proverb says, “All sorrows go into the dirt.” Gardening gives the promise of future growth, new life
- Find or create online games – play with family or friends.
- Create online get-togethers. Yesterday I was part of a heartwarming devotional gathering.
- Make gifts for people. You could be prepared for the next holiday gift giving way ahead.
- Go on virtual field trips – there are lots of them already offered, and new ones popping up. (Look for Virtual Field Trips in Google and YouTube.)
I am not a Pollyanna. I accept that we are in a global crisis….uncharted territory where there will likely be a great deal of suffering, both physical and economic. How we respond now, though, sets the tone for how we get through this. And just maybe, this is a necessary reset for us to advance to the next level of civilization. I see people slowing down and getting in touch with their basic humanity. That is a good thing. We will learn as we go. Maybe we’ll bump up against the question that comes after What to Do? Namely: Who to Be?
I would love to hear your tips for thriving, stories of people’s creativity and generosity. I’ll publish Fresh Views more often and include your gems, if it seems helpful. You are in my heart.