There’s no shortage of information online about COVID-19 right now, and frankly, most of it is scary. It’s stressful and anxiety-inducing. Many of us are secluded and on edge.
BUT, in the midst of it, there are people helping, showing kindness, and inspiring others. I think those are the people we should be filling our screens with.
I never tire of this Mister Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
So, as we all practice “social distancing” for the next few weeks (at least), I wanted to highlight some helpers, as well as ways that can help you cope—because they’ve helped me.
>> Update 3/21: Tips and Info From My Friend with Coronavirus <<
TO FEEL A SENSE OF CONTROL:
Stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are often a result of us feeling out-of-control. And, while we ultimately have little control in our lives anyway, this will help give you back a sense of control during these crazy times.
- Clean up and clean out – It’s spring cleaning season after all!
- Cook your meals
- Plan and structure your days
- Boost your immune system through things like supplements, the foods you eat, and even yoga.
- Learn something new. Here are 450 Ivy League classes you can take for free.
Practicing mindfulness is hard to do, especially if it’s new to you, but it helps keep you in the present. It’s not about what has happened (past) or what might happen (future), but what is actually going on in the space you inhabit at this moment, and what you can experience in your five senses right now.
- Calm meditation app
- Abide Christian meditation app
- My friend, Jerome Lubbe, is giving away free, daily videos from his course, the NeuroTheology of Self-Care.
- There are lots of meditation and yoga exercises on YouTube.
Even if you don’t necessarily feel anxious, these suggestions can still improve your day.
- Start a gratitude journal. I’ve been writing down three things every evening that I’m grateful for over the last few months, and find it helpful.
- Use essential oils. They smell good, and have healing properties. (I use doTerra.)
- Light a candle. This can lighten the mood for many of us.
- Get a good night’s sleep. It may seem more difficult at times, but you’ll act more rationally when rested.
- Listen to classical music. I was reminded of this one recently, so I turned on an Amazon Music classical music station, and almost immediately felt better.
- Exercise indoors or outdoors. Get outside and get that Vitamin D! Or stay inside and try something new.
- Get back to your hobbies. This can be a good way to fill your day, and keep your hands busy.
- Stay connected. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, reach out to someone else.
- Read your Bible or the Jesus Calling app, and share your favorite verses with others.
- Focus on hope. My friend, Jen Gordon, created the Hope Deck to keep scripture front-of-mind for people every day of the year. It’s also a great gift!
- I’ll say it again, clean! Having a clean and serene environment can go a long way in making you feel more at ease.
- Host a one-minute dance party! I have friends that do this regularly, but it certainly can’t hurt now! Blast your favorite music and get your groove on.
- Curl up with a weighted blanket. Many of us love the “hug” feeling that comes with one of these blankets. (Here’s mine.)
- Take a personal or business retreat. If you have the time, why not, right? This is a terrific time to do some planning.
- Get a short-term pet! Some animal shelters are closing temporarily, so they’re looking for people to care for animals during the crisis.
- Send a card. Make someone else smile, and yourself, too! Hallmark is giving away free cards!
ENJOY THE ARTS FROM HOME:
I’m currently lamenting that my ticket to “Hamilton” will likely be canceled next month, but just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t find any culture.
- The Met is doing “Nightly Met Opera Streams”
- Travel Pirates listed “12 Museums You Can Visit in Your Pajamas”
- Playbill put together “15 Musicals and Plays You Can Watch On Stage From Home”
- BroadwayHD offers a 7-day free trial.
- Lots of bands and musicians are live streaming “mini concerts” on their social media.
WATCH, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO THE GOOD STUFF:
I love a good “end of the world” show as much as anyone, but especially if you are someone who is easily affected by them, lay off for now. Watch something light-hearted or that will make you smile.
- Morning Boost – TODAY Show does these segments where they just show vides that make you happy. There was a sweet one today where a woman in Spain turns 80, and her neighbors left a cake outsider her door and sang happy birthday from their windows.
- Atlanta on the Cheap – Even if you aren’t in ATL like me, so many things are happening online right now, and this is a great resource for events. I also think it’s cool that the zoo is doing a “Safari from Home” for kids!
- Virtual story hour for kids from popular authors is a really cool way to entertain kids.
- Many streaming services are pitching in as well, for your viewing pleasure. For example, Disney+ released Frozen 2 early. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime are getting in on the action, too, so check your device!
- Jimmy Fallon has been hosting at home versions of The Tonight Show on YouTube!
- Travel Pirates has put together the “9 National Parks You Can Virtually Tour from Your Couch”
- Many churches already offered their services through online streaming or audio, and lots more have started doing it this month as well. If you don’t belong to a church family, ask a friend what they recommend. This is a great time to turn to your faith.
- Audible is providing free stories for kids since they’re are out of school. (Including the first Harry Potter book!)
- There are also oodles of live web cams to keep you entertained, distracted, or calm. How about puppies or pandas?
- Consider a Kindle Unlimited subscription to catch up on all those books you’ve wanted to read.
- Rosetta Stone is giving students three months of free access.
- Follow #COVIDkindness on social media for positive news and outcomes!
SAVE SOME MONEY:
- Many libraries have online options where you can read books, magazines, get audiobooks, watch movies, and more.
- Trim can help you save money in all kinds of ways, including saving money on your telephone and cable bills, and negotiating your APR.
- Money Saving Mom is a great resource for deals.
- Many cell phone carriers are opening up free Wifi hotspot access at this time, and also offering free and cheap plans for low-income families. Get the full scoop on what telephone and internet providers are doing here.
- U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for students impacted by closings.
- Homeowners affected by the coronavirus can get help with their mortgage payments. I’ve also heard it can be a good time to refinance mortgages due to low rates!
- Meat can be expensive, so consider switching to more plant-based meals. They’re cheaper and often healthier!
- Free and cheap ways to stream TV and movies.
- Clark Howard and The Penny Hoarder put out content daily on saving money.
- Save money on a meal prep kit, and get a comparison of the services.
- Lots of stores are also offering great deals right now, so check out your favorites! (This includes business resources.)
SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES:
I saw a friend post about this, and I thought it was a terrific idea! So many of us who own small businesses, are self-employed, and/or part of the gig economy are really freaked out right now. My business income fluctuates each month, and several of my clients are travel-related, so I’m not sure what’s in store. And I feel so terrible for low-wage hourly workers, who are at home and also don’t have child care. Let’s do our part to support each other!
- Shop online
- Buy services and products (lots of restaurants, for example, are still doing pick-up and delivery) – Don’t forget to leave a good tip when possible!
- Buy gift cards for physical stores you can’t visit right now
- Order fresh, local produce – In Atlanta, I recommend Fresh Harvest!
- Gift services, products, and gift cards to others if you can afford to share the love with those who might need it. Brighten their day!
- Donate money to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations if you want to support them, but don’t need anything.
- Follow your favorite small businesses (social media and email) and share their message with others.
Obviously, because of my work, this one is important to me as well. This is a great time to let people know what you stand for!
- If you can still afford to make donations, please do! If you can’t give, at least help spread their message.
- The spring is prime event season, so many people are having to cancel major fundraisers, which is a huge burden. However, many nonprofits and social impact companies are also finding creative ways to host their events online or offer some sort of alternative experience.
- If you aren’t sure how best to help, contact them and ask!
- Have a few, spare dollars? Consider donating to Modest Needs, who is providing short-term assistance to those in need, including hourly workers.
SUPPORT THOSE AT RISK:
How can you lighten the load for those at risk, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems?
- Offer to run errands for them. I have a weak immune system, and a friend offered to do my grocery shopping—so sweet! Especially, because wait times for deliveries right can be days away, and item availability changes quickly.
- Point them to resources. Some grocery stores in your area may offer early hours for individuals aged 60+, so let them know. There are always multiple ways to make sure they get their medications (and at a discount). And, of course, many people (affected or not) could use financial service resources. Keep your people in the loop!
- Reach out and say hi. Some of my favorite viral videos right now are the creative ways people are reaching out or keeping in touch. Many at-risk people are already prone to isolating themselves, so let’s make sure they are less lonely.
Talk about stress-inducing! You definitely want to stay updated, but leaving news on all day long can feed your anxiety. Keep your news limited, and get it from credible sources.
- http://coronavirus.gov/ – The official website from the CDC. I also follow them on Twitter just to see the new info at a glance.
MENTAL HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
I hope you don’t need this, but there’s no shame if you do. I’ve seen professional counselors and therapists throughout my life, and they can be incredibly helpful. Take care of yourself in every way possible.
- Lots of licensed counselors and therapists have moved their practices online or to over the phone, so access should still be widely available. If money is an issue, many people will work with you.
- AA meetings by phone
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids
- Georgia Department of Human Services
- If you are a victim of human trafficking, or suspect someone of being a victim, please visit Polaris.
ABOVE ALL, find ways to show kindness to others and share the good news. Nothing can boost your mood and give you a good distraction more than doing something for someone else. How can you be a helper?
What did I miss? I’ll try and update this post as we go.