Pandemic, coronavirus, precautions, social distancing, self-isolation, risk levels – all of this language has been swirling around us for the last few weeks as we grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak and its movement across the world. Now that it has landed in the US, and in most states, we are anxious about what it means for us, as individuals, as workers, as parents, as children of elderly parents.
The anxiety, and attendant shopping binges it has provoked, causes me to reflect on our reaction to this outbreak. Not to diminish the seriousness of the speed with which this virus is spreading, I do question our response. We feel the need to clean out all of the toilet paper at Wegman’s, really?
The recommendations by the CDC to work remotely if we can, keep a distance from others, and the daily cancellations by sports teams, musical venues and any large gathering over 200 – 500 (depends on your state), is forcing us to stay put. Further prevention tips include eating healthy and getting some exercise.
But now what do we do with ourselves in our confinement?
Staying at home is a chance to make some recipes you have been wanting to try, instead of eating on the run. For example, today I made a cauliflower fennel soup, and also a split pea with ham soup. I used items I already had on hand (except the fennel). Fortunately, no one was cleaning that out of Shoprite’s produce section. Healthy, nutritious and less costly than eating out.
As for exercise, you may think you have to go to the gym to get it done. Not so, there are so many great workouts on YouTube, you can take your pick. Want to do yoga, weight training or some cardio? You can find it by googling what you want to do and for how long. And you don’t have to be concerned with how you look. No one is around.
As a wellness coach, I am obviously very concerned with how healthily you are eating and how much exercise you are getting. But these are not the only pillars of health. Staying connected with others, having a clean home and a creative outlet are some other aspects of a balanced and healthy life that can be attended to while we wait out the next steps. I am suggesting you spend some quality time with your immediate family (spouse, children, parents, dog, cat), maybe taking the time to work on a cleanout project together at home.
Perhaps you would rather be alone? Right now, I am learning to play guitar, and well let’s just say – people naturally avoid me when I am practicing. Find something you enjoy doing – reading, coloring, painting, drawing, knitting – and don’t put it off one more minute. Take this opportunity to carve out some “me time” and then stick to it, even after we “flatten the curve”.
Feeling anxious with the onslaught of all the news surrounding coronavirus? Take a break from TV, the radio, the internet and relax. Stop checking for updates, stop reading about shortages of food, toilet paper, and medicine. This focus on things you can’t control only increases your apprehension.
As a daily meditation practitioner for two years now, I can tell you that it is one of the best things I have ever done to quell my worry. Since January, I have also gotten into the habit of keeping a daily gratitude journal, making me focus on all that I am grateful for each day. Again, you can find many guided meditations on YouTube or just by googling. Give it a try.
This latest challenge is a great opportunity for all of us to pause for a moment. Most of the time, we are rushing off to work, events, dinners out, our children’s practice, picking up gifts, food shopping and all of the other errands that make up our regular workday. And the weekends are filled with even more activities. How often do we get some much-needed downtime, except for the odd snow day?
I guess what I am getting at is use this time to slow down and consider what makes you truly content. And then do those things that bring you joy, instead of only responding to whatever obligations and responsibilities land on your doorstep. Think of this latest challenge as an opportunity to change your lifestyle to a healthier one. And if you need help, I am here for you.