Hard times are upon us and it seems we have some difficult choices to make. One of them is a choice to summon our better angels or to let fear overtake us. It’s easy to succumb to fear because we would be crazy not to be concerned. But irrational fear isn’t helpful. It’s fueled by unpredictability and misinformation or lack of information. So it’s time to go to credible sources and understand what the situation is. Knowing the facts will inform you so you can behave responsibly without an overload of fear.
The best choice—and really the only reasonable choice if you think about it—is to summon your better angels. Because wouldn’t it be great if there were a silver lining in this crisis and we discover that our past differences seem petty in the face of this global pandemic? Wouldn’t it be great if we get a sort of reboot to all the partisan divide that fomented our anger and spiked our blood pressure? Wouldn’t it be great if we agreed there’s something more important than our squabbles right now? What if we all came together (virtually, not physically) to fight for the greater good? What if we all united in our purpose to do what we can to slow down the virus and minimize the damage?
If that sounds impossible, here are some suggestions for starters:
Refrain from spreading misinformation. A friend called a local plant and tree nursery in an attempt to support her community shop owners. She asked for curbside pick-up to which the shop owner replied, “Oh no. We’re far too busy. Come to our nursery—it’s all outside so it’s the safest place you can be. Everybody’s here.” What if my friend didn’t know any better and thought a busy place, as long as it’s outside, was safe? What if she was elderly and had a compromised immune system? It might have been deadly misinformation.
That goes for the Internet too. Please, we all need to check sources before we share or re-tweet or pass along something that’s wrong. Of course, we should make this a regular practice. That goes triple in these troubling times.
Develop a regular meditation routine. If you’re staying at home, you’ve got more time in your day than ever. And yes, you deserve to binge-watch your favorite shows. But use some of your time to enrich yourself. Spend ten or twenty minutes (or more) in mindful meditation. It will help you stay calm and centered and in these uncertain times, that’s an important gift you can give to yourself.
Call your elderly and at-risk neighbors. It’s a friendly, neighborly gesture and it makes them feel better knowing that you care. You can offer to bring groceries or run errands if that’s something you can do. Or just add their grocery items to your delivery order and put their items on their front porch. In a crisis or any old time, when you help someone else, you feel better yourself.
Arrange some face time. A friend was just invited to a virtual cocktail party. The host set the date and time and sent a link to all the guests to a virtual meeting site. Everybody has to BYOB and the appetizers too! The same meeting software is used by my friend’s yoga studio, so she tunes in to her regular class at her regular time with her regular teacher. Or just use your phone when you want to talk to your family and friends and see their faces.
Resolve to be kinder to one another. It’s easy, when stressed, to snap at someone. But we’re all stressed now and everyone’s got troubles. Don’t add to someone else’s by not being the kindest you know how to be. We’ll still be interacting by phone and by social media and the Internet, so we still have plenty of opportunities to exhibit our better natures. Buy gift certificates to restaurants that had to close so their owners have some income. Read to your neighbor’s children via the Internet. There are thousands of ways you can be generous and kind.
This pandemic is surely one of the biggest challenges of our times. Make it your mission to be as kind as you can.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact