Many of us here in Charlotte County, across our state, and in most of our nation are experiencing feelings of loss, fear, isolation and depression during this coronavirus pandemic. We all know of local businesses that may be gone forever, friends and neighbors who have lost their jobs, families that may face homelessness, children who miss their schools and friends.
We feel stuck in our homes, condos and apartments without all the human contact we usually experience. For most of us, isolation is not the norm. We interact with many people every day. Those of us who thrive on social contact are likely to become highly stressed without the daily doses of the give and take with other people that we have and enjoy. There are a number of things we can do to survive these times in better and possibly more productive ways.
Know what kind of things besides publicly interacting with others make you feel good that you can do at home: Take a walk, work on a collecting hobby, clean your guns, redo your garden, cook an exotic meal. Write down your favorite things. Have each member of your family do the same.
Have a plan: sit down with your family, explain the situation, and make an action plan for each week. Refine a schedule: Block out time for needed tasks, exercise, household chores, gardening, relaxing, cooking, etc. Put the schedule on paper, and tape it to the fridge. Nothing in your schedule has to be totally rigid and inflexible, it is a guide that can be changed by you and your family. Set daily and weekly goals: It does not matter what they are, just set goals so you have something to look forward to every day and every week. Exercise is critical. It stimulates the brain, and may well make you more relaxed and happier. Connect with others via the telephone, e-mail, chat groups. Try and stay in touch with friends, relatives and colleagues.
An important goal is to ignore the news sometimes. The constant parade of bad news, fake news, rumor, propaganda, and political agendas, both domestic and international, can and will drag you down, if you allow it to take over your life. Do something different. Play a game, bake a cake, watch an old Marx Brothers movie, swim laps in your pool, take a hike. Just get away from the bad stuff for a while.
Another important goal is don’t argue. Don’t nag, don’t constantly criticize, don’t lose your temper, don’t whine. Avoid attacking those with whom you disagree about politics, religion, the virus, the weather. This is hard to do, but is an important way to reduce stress, both yours, and the stress of those around you. You may even learn to get along better.
The best advice is to keep your chin up. Studies have shown that people who go through very difficult life experiences (the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights movement), can emerge with a stronger sense of psychological resilience, rekindled relationships, and a renewed appreciation of the wonderful life we have had, and will have again here in this beautiful part of Florida.