First of all, don’t panic. This may be the first incidence of such a dramatic nationwide issue some of us have dealt with. Older members of our community may have gone through things as serious in their past and they survived it. We can too.
Next, buy what you need to stock up as recommended but don’t hoard supplies. Also, keep in mind that grocery stores have started to limit their hours, so if you tend to be an early bird or late-night shopper regularly, make sure to check their hours.
Finally, resist the urge to make impulsive financial decisions. As tensions rise with the uncertainty, resist the urge to withdraw money from your financial institution. It is a good idea to have a certain amount of cash (as part of your emergency kit) but a mass withdrawal isn’t necessary.
Managing emotions and stress as we make changes to our daily routines is one of the best ways to keep perspective.
Here are some ideas.
• A movement using the hashtag #OutsideAt5 is one way people are walking the line between maintaining social distance and maintaining connections, especially on a neighborhood basis.
The idea is that at 5 pm, people will come out from their homes (perhaps with a beverage in hand) to connect, from the recommended six foot distance.
Six feet apart conversations may required speaking louder but there is still the important personal connection many desire and the ability to observe non-verbal cues that can help us understand how our neighbors are doing.
• Besides getting out of the house, science has shown that there are physiological benefits of watching fish, which may be the reason dentist and doctor’s waiting rooms often incorporate tanks.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA is known for its focus on marine habitats and is now offering a selection of 10 live web cams on its website. Bliss out to the hypnotic movements of jellyfish, follow the busy tropical fish in the coral reef or delight at the sea otters as they frolic and more.
Live cams stream 7 am-7 pm with recorded loops playing during off hours. montereybayaquarium.org/animals.
Here are more suggestions, adapted from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for maintaining mental health:
• Separate what is in your control and what is not. Wash your hands, take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news, especially news that isn’t local.
• Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This is different for everyone and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.
• Get outside in nature even if you are avoiding crowds. There is no denying how good sunshine and fresh air feels. Exercise is an important part of maintaining both physical and mental health.
• Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Worry is understandable but worrying about something in the future can be compounding. If you find yourself worrying about the future, bring yourself back to the present by engaging in mindfulness activities.
Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry. Reach out to trusted friends and family. Pick up the phone, send a text or email, use a video application like Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom.
Lastly, it’s okay to reach out to mental health professionals. Reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: text TALK to 741741 or call 800.273.TALK.