Many of you are scared and feel you’re living in the dangerous and spooky unknown. I understand that. But focusing on the unknown can create fear (that will only bring you more fear) and the more you think negatively, the deeper those fears will be allowed to root. Better to assess what you do know, what you can do that’s within your control, and isolate yourself as best you can without total financial collapse.
1. Remember, You’re Not Alone
We are all in this together. Even globally, the virus is uniting us. All countries and governments have a common cause and purpose. We are bonded by one lone enemy that will ultimately be vanquished. Take comfort in knowing that your neighbors, all who live in your state and country, and the people of the entire globe, are in your very same foxhole.
If you live alone and wish to stay at home, reach out to friends and neighbors by phone. Send text messages and emails. Connect on social media. It’s the perfect time to catch up, finally, on all those books and movies that you longed to get to, had you only had the time. So, now you have the time. Tackle your personal wish list. Gut and reorganize your closets. Do some journaling. And keep as many appointments as you can, but just do it by phone, FaceTime, Zoom or Skype. All of my clients for next week in my Westport office will be virtual; it’s my new temporary normal. People will be as glad to hear your voice as you will be to hear theirs.
2. Know It’s Temporary
The coronavirus is a guest, not your new roommate. The next ten weeks, maybe longer, will be challenging. But it is not permanent. If you don’t see and use this time as an opportunity, I can virtually guarantee that you will look back and rue you used this time wringing your hands raw for nothing. So, pull out your monthly calendar, plot out ten weeks from today as the hopeful end date, and fill in every week with things that you’d like to do at home. And don’t forget to exercise and take great walks with those you love. You may get to know each other better and more deeply if you use this temporary situation to affect permanent change in your life.
Next year, this will be nothing more than a “Where were you?” story that we can all enjoy hearing and telling. Because this is temporary.
3. Replace Fear With Courage
How you manage your life is entirely up to you. Choose courage. Believe that you’re going to dodge this bullet. Expect to be victorious through all of this. And take comfort in the knowledge that you can withstand anything once you simply decide to. It feels so much better than paralysis. With courage and grit, you have more options than you think.
Yes, life has delivered a threat to you. But this isn’t the same as random bombs falling nightly from the skies. This is not the Plague. We are not being attacked by aliens. It’s a virus.
Be strong. Think of others. Access your strengths. Stay positive with your thoughts and solutions. You will be fueled by your own might, feel far less afraid, and in more control than you currently may feel.
4. Manage Your Emotional State
Fear is a feeling–and a crummy one at that. Recognize that most fears are generated by lousy questions your brain is asking itself. Thinking, “What if this virus kills me?” is not going to do much to keep yourself calm and reasonable! Keep yourself objective. Ask yourself better questions like, “What three things can I do to increase my family’s safety?” or “How can I use this time in a way I will be grateful for later?”
When you feel scared, step back from the problem to gain a better perspective. Being too close to what scares you can warp your clarity of the situation.
5. It’s All In the Numbers
Though it appears true that the coronavirus is far more dangerous than the flu, there is currently a likely 98% chance that if you get it, you will recover as you might from the regular flu. It is true that 2% of one million is 20,000 but how many of you live in a town with one million residents? Westport, CT has 27,000. Your odds of having everyone in your life be absolutely fine are 98%. You’re looking really good. Especially if you take action now to reduce your odds even further.
6. Stay Informed
Stay current with the news, but don’t obsess. Cable news will turn you into a basket case. Turn it off. Go to worldometers for the most up-to-date numbers. I’m pretty sure you have all the advice you need. Just keep one eye open for new information, and let the rest be. Turn off the television and instead find your news from reliable sources.
Worrying is not useful and it doesn’t generate anything productive. Stay at home if you can afford to and if you have job security. Keep your kids at home using your own judgment. School systems don’t always have your answers. Stock up on what you need for at least three weeks but don’t hoard. You will leave people in lack and you will churn up your own internal panic.
Plan but don’t overreact. Frenzy doesn’t suit you.
7. Use Your Free Time Well
Don’t get bored, get imaginative. Dig up a few jigsaw puzzles and get to know that stranger of a teenager who currently lives with you. Linger at the dinner table. Paint a picture, a room, or that ugly table in the basement. Take wonderful long walks. Catch up on some sleep; rest is a rare commodity in Fairfield County.
And don’t forget to record your thoughts because these are really interesting times. It just doesn’t feel that way yet. Find your own answers. You probably already know what they are.
8. Expect a Positive Outcome
Oftentimes in life, you get what you expect. Imagine your next year. Create solutions not further problems. Enjoy this time as much as you can, know there is an end to this and changes are hugely stacked in your favor. You and your loved ones are going to be just fine.
Bundle up and hunker down. This is going to take a while. But you are among friends. We’re all in the same boat and we will all make it ashore if we continue to row and keep our wits about us.