There is no way to sugarcoat it. This pandemic changes everything. Unlike many of the other posts that are saying how awful this pandemic is and will be for the health and wellness of the public, the collapse of the healthcare infrastructure, and the decline of the economy, I will not be discussing that. Initially when the news of the virus first broke admittedly I was obsessively checking the major news wires for vital information. Namely, numbers of newly infected, advice from the CDC about how to flatten the curve, and guidance from the NYS Department of Health about how the Rockaway team in the office could best manage the safety of our direct care worker, nurses, and patients in the community. At some point, I was so oversaturated with news that I was literally receiving 19 notifications on my phone and receiving 27 emails an hour. It was too much. There was too much pain. I broke loose. I made a promise to myself to not get too stressed about what is going on in the world. Don’t mistake this idea for one as not caring; sadly I do have several members of my family that are badly affected by this raging virus. Rather, look at it as a way to juggle the reality of life with the hope of a better tomorrow. Below are a few de-stressors that have been very helpful for me.
Firstly, keep a brief gratitude journal. It’s simple. Write down a few things daily for that which you are thankful for. My magic number is three new things daily. Points of gratitude can be as small as your spouse made you a coffee just the way you like it, or something more significant such as a loved one is recovering well from the virus. Personally, I was blessed with my first child this month so that gift still astonishes me every day. We should be thankful for the gift of our children every day. Focusing on the good that we have in our lives among so much stress and pain will definitely help get you back in a better groove.
Another de-stressor I have been using is to try and learn a new skill to help break the monotony of the day. We all have a variety of interests that help make us unique. I love music (especially country music), technology, and I am a foodie. I have been using my time to learn the guitar that I never had time for finally. Also, I am trying to teach myself how to code a software program which has been comical to see the results of thus far but I am learning! And lastly, I have picked up some cookbooks and tried my hand at making dinners so my wife can take it easy after the baby. I am now a master at making hamburgers and fries but my wife is forcing my hand into more healthy territory. These have proven challenging and rewarding to me and have helped me think less about what’s going on in the world and more about working on what’s going on in front of me right now. There are tons of websites that offer free courses on these and more interesting topics and YouTube also has a lot of great instructional videos as well.
My last de-stressor has been reconnecting with my family and friends. In a digital age, we spend so much time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that we lose those special connections that we have with the most important people to us. Being quarantined has enabled me to call my mom and have more than a 5 minute call on the way home from work. It gives me time to see what she is feeling, thinking, and hoping for beyond Covid-19. It has helped me call my nephew that works for a tech startup and talk to him about his Series-A round of raising funds. It has helped me appreciate all over again how many special people there are in my life everyday. We all have those people who make our world go around but kind of just fade into the background with how hectic and digital life gets. Take the time today to reach out and call or FaceTime someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile you won’t regret it.
I can’t promise these ideas will work for you. They have for me but I am sure there are other ways to cope with this pandemic in a healthy way. Whatever your method is, utilize your time wisely; do not spend all day worrying about events you cannot change. We have a chance now to make a capital investment of time that will be life-changing in a positive way. Remember, we are all in this together and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this and come out stronger on the other side. Stay safe and stay healthy.