Coping With Corona, Redux

[Excerpted from my post March 18, 2020, Coping In the Era of CoVid-19. I was curious to revisit how I wrote about CoVid in the very beginning, a year ago. Much has changed. Or has it?]

How are you doing?

It’s for your own good. You have to stop touching your face.

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.

Humor

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:

Thanks to Helen Moffett for the photo.

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

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,

Iranians cope with coronavirus with dancing doctors and humor.

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?

Exercise

We walk.

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?

12 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I like your mix of humor and research here, Janet, so like you. I knew about Italians singing “in concert” during the pandemic but not the fact that Iranians cope with coronavirus with dancing doctors and humor.

    We eat out in restaurants now here in Florida, but I admire your buying gift certificates to support restaurants in your area, a noble deed among others I’ve read here.

    And, humor (a la cartoons), we couldn’t do without it. Ha! Ha!
    I guess great minds flow in the same channel: my blog post today is pandemic-theme, possibly my last on the topic, unless. . .

    Thank God for the release of the vaccine. I can’t comprehend why some people who qualify resist taking it. Oy vey!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’ve not yet been to a restaurant during this time. Lots of take out, but no actual inside dining. I imagine you utilized all those lovely patio dining options down there. Thanks for starting us off once again, Marian.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Coping With Corona, ReduxMy Profile

  2. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I felt safe and happy here in my corner of Spain over the past year and made the most of it. Read, wrote baked and walked my dog and got another one. But, it hit me when my mom passed away two weeks ago, and I couldn’t go back to Canada to say goodbye and be with the family. My dear mom was 92 and her health had been failing, but I always thought I would jump on a plane and see her should she be nearing the end. And I certainly never imagined I would not be at her funeral. This pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh Darlene, I am so very sorry to hear this news. You are the third woman I know whose mom passed during the CoVid era and they were unable to say good-bye. Doubly sad, certainly, if there can be such a thing. You have my deep condolences.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Coping With Corona, ReduxMy Profile

  3. Ella Reznikova
    | Reply

    Good Morning Janet,

    Always good to hear from you!

    Ella

  4. susan scott
    | Reply

    I love this last paragraph most of all Janet. ‘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’.
    We do what we can do – what we believe in, what we believe to be ‘good’. In our believing we can help to contain the spread and our playing our part. I’m pretty well almost convinced that we are all connected. To everything. What we do to one we do to all … so it’s as well to consider what role the individual can play for the betterment of him/herself and for the betterment of society, the world in which one lives.

    Quite honestly, I haven’t *yet* reflected all that deeply on this past year. I need to do this – write about it, make notes, reflect, for myself. A year that has sped by and now this one is also gaining traction. April tomorrow, I can barely believe it .. isn’t April known as the capricious month? Not that all the preceding months haven’t been capricious, in the extreme.

    My husband & I have been fortunate in all areas during this pandemic for which we are truly grateful. We don’t socialise much and when we do it is in a smart way. All protocols are followed. Who knows what tomorrow may bring. All is still tenuous ..

    Thank you for your post Janet. Humour is the flip side of tragedy – thank heavens for humour! Happy Easter to you and your family.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Susan, for your words, ever so welcome and appreciated. I was asked once what I meant by connection, how I’d describe it, how I know I’ve got it. You know, it was difficult. I know it when I experience it (a summation that unfortunately reminds me of that infamous definition of pornography). Hang in there, Susan. We will find the gifts herein, surely.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Coping With Corona, ReduxMy Profile

  5. Terri Lyon
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, I’m glad to hear you are surviving (and thriving) during this strange time. Our life did not change terribly, since I teach from home and my husband is retired. I have to confess that before I subscribed to the NY Times, I had a puzzle subscription! Now I have both. I love the occasional cryptics. Thanks for a lovely, useful post. Terri
    Terri Lyon recently posted…Me, an Activist? What Is an Activist and Why Should I Be One?My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Isn’t the crossword fun? Years ago, when we only got it in print, and we spent our weekends in Chincoteague, woody and I would complete the Sunday one together and once we were done, declare, “OK, now we can go home.” That was fun. I also love to find a double acrostic, though I prefer to fill it out in paper. So, I print it out first. I often try to do a mini puzzle just before sleep. Take care, Terri. Glad you stopped.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Coping With Corona, ReduxMy Profile

  6. Bette A Stevens
    | Reply

    Good to know you’re surviving and then some… We are too! <3

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    I’m glad to hear it. We all need more lemonade in our lives.
    Janet Givens recently posted…Coping With Corona, ReduxMy Profile

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