Over the last several days, the world as we knew it has drastically changed in the midst of the global pandemic of COVID-19. Every headline sends new shockwaves, levels of fear and disruption to our daily lives. My siblings are home from college two months early, my dad has posted up in our home office for at least the next week and my boyfriend is temporarily living in our basement to escape the craziness that is NYC right now. Shops, gyms, churches, schools, bars and restaurants are closed, and sporting events, conferences, and music tours have been cancelled or postponed. At times it feels completely surreal, like we're living through an apocalyptic movie or we're stuck in "The Twilight Zone."
It can be difficult to acknowledge the gravity and seriousness of this public health emergency without losing our mental sanity in the process, especially if we're fortunate enough to not be directly infected. While I for one am still coming to grips with everything I'm feeling, I'm trying to do my part to self-isolate and practice social distancing to protect the broader community, taking things day by day. But it's hard not to freak out amidst the total uncertainty surrounding the duration and impact of this outbreak.
When will it end? When will this disruption be over? When will things go back to normal?
There are no answers to these questions. As we live through unprecedented times and collectively enter uncharted territory around the world, we're all facing very real social, financial, mental, and potentially physical, challenges. The fallout from this will be undeniably destructive. Beyond worrying about the health of those I care about, I'm also nervous about what the disruption to our economy will mean for me individually, as someone who's been unemployed and was just about ready to look for a new job. What if it takes months, or worse, for me to be on stable ground again?
While there is undoubtedly much to be afraid of, it's more important now than ever to prioritize our well-being to help prevent anxiety from spiraling out of control. Here are a few gentle reminders to help you feel better during these times of self-isolation and quarantine:
Nothing in life is within our control. Accept it. Adapt. Stop resisting. You cannot change what is happening but you can change your attitude and approach. Maybe social media is a creative outlet for you, but if it's contributing to your stress, take a break. Same goes for watching the news or getting endless breaking news alerts. Pick up a meditation practice, go for a walk, focus on deep breathing - whatever helps you unwind, slow down the chatter in your head and reset.
Plans were made to be thrown out the window. Things will never turn out the way you envisioned anyway. If I thought this year started off on unusual footing, I had no idea just how much more it would unravel. It's been a tough lesson in realizing that the universe doesn't care about my personal timeline. Do what you need to do to recover from any disappointment or stress and be patient as you wait to figure out what will come next.
Enjoy having a little extra free time. A little extra time with family. A little extra time to get moving, pick up a hobby, catch up on sleep. Do the things you always said you'd do "on a rainy day." Stay connected to loved ones that you can't be with right now. When everyday distractions are eliminated, we're left with what's truly important.
Everyone is in the same boat. We're all in this together. We all wish we didn't have to cancel social plans, fear for our health and stay cooped up inside. You're not alone. This is the time to put aside differences and be there for each other.
One way or another, everything will be okay. Yes, there will be scary consequences. It will take time and things will get worse before they get better. We will be forever changed by this and the new "normal" will be different. But we are an incredibly resourceful species and we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Find the silver lining in the new opportunities that will arise and appreciate the little moments.
How are you handling this stage of life right now? I'd love to hear any affirmations that are helping you cope!
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