The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has quickly and viciously turned all our lives upside down, to varying extents depending on where we are and what we do. No one really knows how long we will be in this jam, which has exposed how ill-prepared our leaders have been for a situation like this and could very well be a defining moment for the next elections.
The quickly shifting, domino-like situation, bombardment of information and fear, and loss of livelihoods have already deeply rocked our sense of security, prosperity and abundance in the “developed world” (others may be more familiar with such crippling losses). But panic is our enemy, and panic is dangerous for ourselves and our fellow humans during the coronavirus crisis.
The also rapidly changing, and sometimes contradicting, info on the coronavirus has partly been the cause for people storming supermarkets and hoarding food, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, as well as buying up surgical masks and going to the emergency room with mild symptoms. This has resulted in shortages of basic supplies for one’s neighbors, of resources for medical workers in the frontlines, and of hospital beds for those with life-threatening cases – and hence in more infections and deaths.
A good recommendation right now if you’re feeling all right physically – besides staying home and washing your hands as much as possible – is to be mindful. Be mindful of yourself and others. Practice mindfulness in terms of being present in the moment. The future now feels foggier than usual but there is little we can do besides individual responsibility and trying to be rational and supportive of others (from a distance of at least a meter or two).
So what can we do to feel better and saner right now as we contend with the scourge of coronavirus?
Here are a few thoughts and common-sense tips based on personal experience, reading articles and chatting with friends about what they’ve been up to. They may sound obvious to some of you, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded…
1. Maintain a healthy information diet.
There’s been quite a bit of fake news circulating about coronavirus. Even when the information comes from reliable news sources, there are constantly flashing headlines and tickers with the number of confirmed cases and deaths climbing at a frighteningly swift pace. This can drive anyone insane. My tip here is to limit your information intake to a few trusted outlets – Harvard Medical School has some suggestions – and get updates at intervals rather than being swept into a vortex of despair at all hours of the day.
Stay up-to-date with local closures, orders from authorities and safety recommendations by accessing Stadt Leipzig’s coronavirus information platform. It’s available in German and English, and is being translated into Russian, Arabic, Romanian and Vietnamese as we speak.
2. Pick up a good book and get lost in it.
Being so caught up in our daily lives and online stuff might mean we don’t have enough time to read books. In some cases, this can starve our souls without our even noticing it. Coronavirus isolation and downtime may present the perfect opportunity to get into or return to a reading habit – while giving our eyes and brains a rest from the glow of a screen and the claws of dismal news.
3. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones.
Self-isolation does not mean we have to be alone – we are all together in this, after all, and can all relate. Due to the coronavirus crisis, I have reached out to several friends and family members I hadn’t spoken with in a long time, besides checking up on the ones I talk to more frequently. Knowing that they’re ok and exchanging stories and insights have been essential for keeping me somehow smiling and optimistic in between bouts of worrying and cringing.
If you want to be extra social:
Consider hosting an “online party” or “online dinner” (drinking and eating together separately via, for instance, Skype). A Leipzig friend of mine is about to have a cyber-cocktail party and has invited me to cyber-dine with her this weekend.
4. Do creative activities alone or with the kids.
Having kids at home all day everyday during the school closures can be daunting, or it can also be an opportunity to bond as a family even in productive ways. Playing dress-up and dancing around can be fun and release some of that pent-up energy. Doing crafts together can be another nice idea. A friend of mine in Copenhagen spent an evening with his girlfriend and her kid hand-painting a sign to hang on their window and show solidarity to others: “We stand together – apart.” A friend of mine in Leipzig who doesn’t have kids has been using her newly found downtime to pick the violin back up, a part of herself she’s really enjoying reconnecting with.
5. Exercise, eat and sleep well.
It is important to stick to a routine that will ensure we and our immune systems stay healthy, which will make it less likely the coronavirus will knock us down (both physically and emotionally). Those of us not homeless or living in an actual warzone where our house could go up in flames at any minute usually have a safe, sheltered place to exercise and sleep, and we can still go out and get groceries, so we should consider ourselves lucky. The benefits of eating balanced meals, moving our bodies and getting adequate rest should not be overlooked, especially in times of crisis.
If you’re into Zumba:
Check out this video playlist I made when I self-isolated for much of my time in South Africa trying to finish my thesis (and worked out in the bedroom and living room)…
6. Look for remote work or online business ideas.
Naturally, lots of businesses and jobs are suffering with the ongoing closures. If you’re in a tight spot financially, the Internet offers a ton of ways to be resourceful without having to leave the house. You could find a temporary solution and even a new career or business path you hadn’t thought of before – or at the very least, feel like you are taking action to improve your current situation. This website recommends scores of platforms where you can find remote/online work, for all sorts of jobs or sorted by specific fields.
7. Seek out psychological help if you need it.
There are times when mindfulness, healthy activities and talking to friends and loved ones are not enough to make us feel better emotionally. We are, after all, going through an unprecedented crisis in our lifetime – so demand for counseling is bound to increase and we may find we could also use it to help us get through. The good news is that more therapists are making themselves available online as they cannot operate face-to-face in their clinics at the moment. One suggestion from a local psychology student I know is the platform MindDoc, which accepts different types of insurance, and the general doctor search for Saxony as a starting point. But there are plenty of websites out there for different needs, and it helps that this doesn’t depend on location, so you can find something in your language. Just get Googlin’.
Want to share your coronavirus stories and insights with us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.