As of April 6, 2020, 42 states are under a ‘Shelter-In-Place’ mandate. As the coronavirus tops 3.6 million worldwide , more and more countries, states and cities are mandating varying degrees of self-quarantine, social-distancing, and isolation.
From this unusual global response, amazingly creative, funny, and inspiring tweets and memes are birthed. From funny Work From Home mishaps to the rise in #VirtualHappyHours to heart-warming videos of Italian neighborhoods singing from their balconies.
On a darker side, self-quarantine and self-isolation can have an underlying sense of fear, uncertainty, panic, anger, and confusion.
As we are all ‘Sheltering-In-Place,’ here are 4 questions that can help us make the best of this situation, and turn a very difficult time into something positive.
Question #1: What are the activities or tasks we’ve always wanted to do but could never find the time?
“I don’t have time.”
We hear this a lot, and we’ve said this a lot too. I don’t have time to exercise or to read that book, or even to get outdoors. My time is torn between work and family and financial responsibilities and community duties. Who has the time to deep clean, or tidy the garden, or sort through old belongings?
And although this is very true in our normal day-to-day life, we’ve been given an opportunity to have more time than we’ve ever had before. We have a lot more time now for that thing we’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t find the space to do it.
You can spend more time with your family, or find the time to catch up on work or find the time to work out daily, or to read that book you’ve been meaning to read.
So, turn off the TV, write down a list of 10-15 you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time, and then pick the top 3. Schedule those top 3 into your calendar over the next few weeks.
Question #2: What are the good things in our life?
Isolation can be a challenging experience. Human beings—by nature—are social animals. Some more social than others (looking at you, extroverts!). However, we have all had a massive disruption to how we’ve been living our lives.
This disruption can bring up a lot of uncomfortable emotions—ranging from anxiety to triggering thoughts, to depression, to fear, to worry. And all of the feelings and thoughts that come up are normal, healthy and need to be acknowledged.
Although my next question will not be a magical pill to help ease the anxiety during this time, it does help broaden our attention to focus on the positives outside of the virus. Positive psychologists have touted the amazing benefits of a gratitude journal for years. Looking at the positives can help increase your overall feeling of happiness, well-being, and reduce your feelings of anxiety and depression.
So, pick up a pen and paper (or open up a Microsoft document), and journal your thoughts to the following prompts:
- What are 10 positive things in your life right now? Mention specific people and places and experiences
- Take photos or screenshots of things that make you happy
- Who are the 10 people you can thank or reach out to? Reach out to them now
Question #3: How can we be of service?
As soon as we open the newspaper, turn on the TV, or scroll through social media, we are bombarded by all the terrifying and terrible things happening. From running out of masks and ventilators to millions of people losing their jobs, to the doubling of confirmed cases, we realize that there is a lot that needs to be done.
So, how can we be of service? What can WE do to help?
Here are a few ways, and there are definitely countless more
- Donate money and food to local food banks and non-profit organizations such as Feeding America, or volunteer remotely such as Crisis Text Line or Alone
- Donate blood with Red Cross
- Support local business by ordering food online, writing positive yelp reviews, or purchasing gift cards to be used at a later time
- Help the elderly. You can send a letter through Love For The Elderly.
Question #4: What gaps do we see? What ideas, social movements, or projects can I start?
Similar to the question “How can we be of service,” we can also think, “What can we do to create a project, a business idea, or a social movement to help.” For example, can we create apps that can partner with Google’s website to help patients find the nearest testing sites? Can we find creative ways to make masks and ventilators sustainably?
Can we create a movement to connect the elderly with the youth during this time?
As human beings, we are extraordinarily creative, resilient, strong, and enduring. We have survived countless crises and terror, and we have risen together. The pandemic is a terrifying time, and for many of our youth, it is a first of this kind of experience. But it is an opportunity for us to rise, to take something terrifying, and make it into something awe-inspiring.
For as Greg Kincaid said, “No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.”