As I sat down to write this, I wondered if I should even bother. I still wonder that, even as my fingers fly across the keyboard and my words appear before my eyes. In a deluge of COVID 19 coverage, I don’t want to add to the incessant chatter or unsolicited opinions being served up around the clock. Yet, here I am. One of my coping mechanisms, and one of the things that brings me joy, is writing, pandemic or no pandemic. So, I hope that you will indulge me for a bit.
Where you live around the world determines how long you have been sieged by COVID 19, and it also determines what measures are in place to flatten the curve. In less than three weeks, although it certainly feels much longer, here in Kentucky, we have upped our hand washing game and continue to master the art of social distancing. As of this writing, Kentuckians are healthy at home, as directed by our governor.
As someone who loves words, I definitely prefer healthy at home to lockdown and shelter in place. In addition to hand washing and social distancing, being healthy at home means that all non-essential businesses have closed up shop until further notice, and businesses deemed essential are operating under the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID 19. Schools across the state have moved to online learning, and plans and events continue to be altered or cancelled. Even our beloved Kentucky Derby was not immune to COVID 19, as it was moved to the first Saturday in September. It’s a strange new world that gets stranger by the day.
Like everyone else, I am still trying to figure this out as I go, and this has been a steep learning curve, and an ever-changing one at that. I have decided to take the directive to be healthy at home to heart and to focus on what I can control that will contribute to the improved physical and emotional health and well-being of my fellow Kentuckians, the global community, and myself.
- Get back to the basics. We all know the importance of practicing good hygiene, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting adequate sleep, but sometimes, what we know and what we do are two different things. The time to implement these basic practices is now. We have to take care of ourselves, in order to reduce our risk of becoming ill and spreading the virus, and if we don’t take of ourselves, we cannot properly take care of anyone else. Self-care has become a matter of life and death.
- Monitor your thoughts. Our brains are geared to go to the worst case scenario imaginable during a crisis, and there’s nothing like a pandemic to put us in a perpetual state of fight or flight. When I find myself heading down the rabbit hole of catastrophic thinking, I try to remind myself that while the worst case scenario may very well be possible, a better case scenario is possible, as well. It’s our choice which thought we want to entertain, and we can change that thought whenever we want to do so. Reach for a better thought.
- Meltdown, if needed. We are experiencing something that none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime, and we all have our own thoughts, feelings, and ways of coping with it. Recently, I had a mid-week meltdown that involved crying, wallowing in negative thinking, and isolating myself. It was awful, but thankfully, it was short-lived. Once I let myself feel those uncomfortable emotions, instead of resisting them or buffering them, I was ready, willing, and able to get my head and heart back in the game. It’s okay and normal to meltdown, just don’t stay there too long.
- Connect, albeit from a safe social distance. We are fortunate to live in an age where most of us can call, text, email, and video chat with people around the world, and we can use social media to keep up with family and friends, too. One of the things that has impressed me during this time of social distancing is how creative people have been, in order to stay connected with others. Telephonic counseling sessions and coaching sessions and telehealth are enabling people to take care of their bodies and minds. Virtual happy hours, girls’ night out, meals, and family get togethers are being hosted near and far. Neighbors are sitting on their porches and driveways to chat from a safe distance with one another. People are sitting outside of their loved one’s nursing home and talking to them on the phone, but in plain view. It’s been beautiful to watch love and kindness prevail.
- Give yourself and others space and grace. Everyone is finding their way through this time of uncertainty and change, and for the most part, everyone is doing the best that they can. Some days are going to be better than others for each and every one of us, so, let us practice patience, forgiveness, and kindness, especially when we, or someone else, may not be at our best. Go easy on yourself and on each other, and set aside judgment and negativity.
We are all in this together, even though we may be physically apart. So, at home, and everywhere else, be healthy. Be well, you all!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story