We are in the midst of one of most difficult periods in American history. We’re facing an unprecedented pandemic, stock market crash, recession, the possibility of millions of job losses and companies going out of business all at the same time. To add insult to injury, we’re told by government officials to stay confined to our homes. We’re left feeling isolated and helpless. A lot of people’s lives have been turned upside down by the economic effects of the coronavirus.
Under the best of conditions—meaning that you and your family still have your health, jobs and a cushion of emergency fund—there’s still incredible stress, fear and anxiety.
Throughout the day, you may lurch from feeling some confidence to overrun with concerns about the health of yourself, your family, friends and co-workers. It’s likely that you’ll experience bouts of difficulty falling asleep. It may be a Herculean effort to get out of bed in the morning to face the day.
While you are quarantined at home, it will be tough to concentrate on working for your job, while also tending to your children who are now at home due to school closures. Being cooped up in the house all day can lead to feelings of unhappiness and depression. It’s easy for everyone to get on each other’s nerves and devolve into arguments and fights that you later regret.
Studies have shown that there’s an increase in alcohol and marijuana consumption. Many people are spending an inordinate amount of time playing video games, watching Netflix, YouTube and television and binge-eating junk food. It’s fine, as long as it’s done in moderation. However, too much time spent on these and similar activities can potentially make you feel guilty, lethargic and downbeat.
This is not the time to be pressured into becoming the next great American hero. Just getting through this toxic combination of a health pandemic, crashing and volatile stock and job market, which abruptly turned from hot to ice cold within a couple of weeks, is a victory.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is focus on the things you can control to get through your day. Don’t worry too much about six months from now. Pay attention to what you can do during each small moment.
The daily COVID-19 cases and death count broadcasted on cable news can make you anxious. Maybe take some breaks from incessantly watching and reading the news and scrolling mindlessly through Twitter and Facebook to give yourself a mental health break. Getting caught up in social media and online fighting over politics is emotionally draining and elevates your blood pressure.
Keep up a routine to stay focused and maintain a sense of normalcy. Put aside some time to care for your body. There’s no pressure to come out of hibernation with six-pack abs and a ripped body. Take small baby steps. A little yoga, push-ups, sit-ups, jogging in place and taking walks around the block—when there are no or a minimal amount of people around—will help both your body and mental outlook. Try practicing a little meditation to decompress and chill yourself out. Make sure you get enough—but not too much—sleep. Try to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs and junk foods.
Start a new easy-to-do hobby. If your kids are home from school, cherish the time you now have together. Before you know it, either they’re back to elementary or high school and the grind starts all over again. If you have young adults forced back home, since the colleges are closed, appreciate the time you have now to bond. They will soon be out of the house and moving onto their own post-graduate lives.
This is a perfect time and excuse to reacquaint yourself with old friends, colleagues and family that you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s not weird to send an email and ask the long-lost relative or childhood buddy to have a Zoom or FaceTime chat to reconnect. They’ll appreciate the contact, especially as it’s a break in the monotony.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to use this mandatory quarantine to think deeply about who you are, who you want to be and how you can be the best version of yourself once this horror is all over. It’s a perfect time to start reinventing yourself. Keep in mind, tough times make tough men and women.
Without the long commute and hustle and bustle at the office, you now have some time to contemplate. Find a quiet place in your home and take an honest assessment of how you spent your pre-coronavirus time. Too many people get caught up with busywork, titles, office politics, gossip and fighting with co-workers.
The one universal thing that we’ve all learned in this new coronavirus era is that life is precious. We only have a short time on this earth and it could all be over in an instant. Hopefully, this tragedy may help us all focus on what really matters. Perhaps, we can come through this crisis on the other side as better people, spouses, co-workers, parents, friends and neighbors.