How are you doing?
This is the most serious pandemic since the Spanish influenza and information, we know, is critical in keeping anxiety down. People, in general, feel anxious in the unknown.
I thought a post that pulled together the various ways people are coping would be helpful. Please feel free to add your own in the Comments section below.
I’m mystified by some of my actions. On one of my early food shopping treks, with future corona-induced quarantines in mind, I thought only of having enough — ready for this? — dishwasher detergent! As of this writing, I can do 38 loads of dishes before we run out. But I will run out of the walnuts we use on our oatmeal each morning in about two weeks.
I’ve found four areas that have helped me: humor, music, exercise (easier in a rural area than urban, granted), and trust in your information sources. At the heart of each of these, though, is connection. We are social animals, after all, and it can be painful to be, to feel, isolated. I’ve found as I looked at each of my coping mechanisms (to reiterate: humor, exercise, music, and trust in our sources of information) that each one, in its own way, helps me stay connected to others.
Erma Bombeck once said, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” And it must be true, for Google has an image for it.
Stephen Colbert summed up this crisis and got a laugh at the end as well (from me):
“This coronavirus … it’s making people nervous,” he said last Wednesday. “It’s making people anxious. But I think at a time like this we all need to laugh, to be together,” and then backing away, “from a distance of about 20 feet.”
In the early weeks of this pandemic, I was confused about what to believe.
You heard all the advice:
- Be sure to wear a mask. Don’t bother; masks keep germs in, not out.
- Stay six feet away. Stay home.
- Sing Happy Birthday for 20 seconds when you wash your hands. No; sing it for 40 seconds.
The wide-ranging advice was flying fast and furious even a week ago. Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion, presented as fact. And not knowing what to believe was causing me more concern than the virus itself. I found that humor anchored me. There is no ambiguity for me in what I find funny; it either is or it isn’t (to me).
Here’s the first Coronavirus related image that made me chuckle. It showed up in my Facebook feed one morning last week, unexpectedly:
Turns out, Helen was just wandering past this ill-timed display and snapped her photo. It wasn’t planned, and it was that absurdity that made it amusing (to me).
Toilet paper hoarding got lots of air time.
“Coronavirus Jokes are spreading (almost) as fast as the actual COVID-19,” read the March 10 headline from the The Gazette, and with it came this image of someone hiding in a bunker built of rolls of toilet paper in the middle of their living room:
Humor is universal. And the use of humor universally is a good reminder that not only is this a true pandemic (affecting people around the world), the use of humor as an antidote is something we human beings share, around the world. I like that reminder. It feels like one more way we connect.
Music is another way we connect. Who hasn’t been moved by the many images of quarantined Italians singing out their balconies? The link is via Laurie Buchanan’s FB page on March 12, 2020 (thanks, Laurie).
The LA Times reports that in the hardest hit country outside of China,
I love the fourth video, the one of the two doctors dancing, finding joy even while masked from head to toe. But the others are also of interest. I hope you’ll check it out.
Music comes in many forms, thankfully.
On March 12th, the Berlin Philharmonic gave their scheduled concert, in a vacant hall, streaming the event over the Internet at no charge. And for the next month they are offering free access to their entire archive of concerts and films.https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/home
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, I think about how tedious it has become to sing Happy Birthday as timekeeper for hand washing (remember, it’s the friction that’s important; use that nail brush).
But the best news of all is this new website called Wash Your Lyrics. Open it, enter the song you want to sing while washing your hands and it’ll …. oh bother. Just go take a look. It’s really fun.
How are WE coping on our 30 isolated acres?
My 90-year-old mother lives nearby, alone, and eager to stack our wood again this spring. She and I get out for a brief walk up our hill a few times a week.
Woody, 81, is in the physical therapy phase of his recent rotator cuff surgery, so his activities have kept him at home anyway. He’s content to continue his life pretty much as it’s been. I try to get him out to hike up our hill once a day.
To whom to listen: trust
I trust my news sources to give me the facts I need when I need them. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother to read them. Vermont Digger, my local digital paper, brings me local and state-wide news each morning, including updates on what’s happening COVID related here in my own backyard.
I’ve been reading the New York Times daily since my days teaching American National Government, when I got it for free. And, while I have noticed bias occasionally (often in where photos are placed on the front page), I trust it to be one of the more reliable sources for news that makes sense to me. Plus, I like its crossword puzzle. For those who don’t want to subscribe, they offer a free email list of their headlines, so you can peruse the top stories. I read news magazines too: The Atlantic (and will be giving a subscription to my older granddaughter for her birthday) provides in depth coverage of a variety of topics, not just politics.
And I tend to believe the experts. I’m not certain the CDC hasn’t become politicized, but I still read a variety of online journals, Psychology Today, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera, and The New Yorker. I listen to National Public Radio (and its Vermont affiliate, VPR) daily; I watch Public Broadcasting System as often as I can. I watch neither Fox nor MSNBC.
Here’s an article from the American Psychological Association on what to pay attention to while keep social distance. It was written in 2014, back when we were first getting warned about this very possibility. I like how readable the APA makes these sorts of articles.
I have come to believe I have a part to play in helping to contain the spread — flatten that curve, as they call it. And, as much as I’m able, I will do that. I believe the experts when they say our health care workers need to be supported. And I can do that by simply staying home for the next three weeks.
I don’t need to go to the post office everyday. I won’t need to go food shopping for three weeks, maybe more (though I will run out of walnuts before then!). I don’t need to see my clients face to face necessarily; most will just postpone; one I will see via Zoom. And we’ve blocked our AirBnB listing through April.
We won’t eat out, not even take-out. I will, however, buy gift certificates via phone to support the restaurants I want to keep alive. Hopefully, those restaurants will still be around to take them from me, slowly, once life gets back to normal. This is all doable.
To me, this is like recycling. I’d not make much of a difference doing this by myself, alone. But when I’m one of many, together we make a huge difference. Together, we may make all the difference, and that feels quite social, in its own way. We are indeed all in this together.
How about you? How have you coped during this strange, new chapter of our lives? And, now a year later, as you look back, what might you have done differently?