Just a few weeks ago, I was stressed about my upcoming implant (no matter how you try to sugar-coat it, an implant means someone is screwing a metal post into your jaw), my dog’s heart-worm diagnosis, and managing a Spring calendar that was overcrowded with events and trips. I found myself wishing that somehow my life could become less complicated. Today, my social calendar is completely empty, my dentist’s office closed after completing only the first part of the procedure, and Finn’s much-needed heart worm treatment may be postponed. Which I guess supports that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Lots of people are pointing the finger of blame and even more are trying to dictate exactly how we should be feeling right now, and I have very little patience with any of them. But there are also many people who are spreading messages of hope, who are encouraging us to be kind and tolerant, and who are reminding us that no matter how bad things become, we will get through this. I don’t know about you, but I find those messages very comforting and reassuring. And I thought maybe I could help others by sharing the coping mechanisms that work best for me.
First, I’m limiting my exposure to the news media and to the negative aspects of social media as much as possible. I turn on the news in the morning just long enough to stay abreast of current events, and then I switch the channel. There’s something comforting about watching people on television shows go about their normal lives, and doing the things we used to do before anyone knew what “social distancing” meant. As for Facebook, I’ve found that the “unfollow” button is my new best friend. It allows me to stay friends with those who are constantly publishing angry posts without having the vitriol spread all over my news-feed.
I’m using the extra time I now have to do the chores around my house that I’ve been ignoring for so long, and that feels good. I take my dog for (sedate) walks when the weather permits, and still go to the shelter to help with the dogs that are living there because animals in cages always need someone to care for them. And now that my grandson’s daycare is closing, I’m going to be babysitting for him while his parents work from home. I’m eager to spend more time with him, even though I’m sure there will also be times when I remember why I had my own kids when I was young.
I’m trying to indulge in small pleasures whenever I can, including taking the time to read a little bit every day. When I spotted flowers while stocking up on food at the grocery store, I hesitated. Should I really be spending money on something so unnecessary? But then I realized that now is exactly the time to surround myself with anything that cheers me up, and added them to my cart.
Most importantly, I’m trying to stay in touch with family and friends, particularly those who are hurting the most, through calls, texts and emails. I’ve found that each time I do something that helps someone else, I feel a little less stressed and worried, and a little bit more empowered. It reminds me that I can still make a positive impact on our troubled world, in my own small way. And that lesson will serve me well long after this horrible virus has left finally left town.