12 Healthy Alternatives to Worrying About Coronavirus
While I'm not a medical professional of any sort, common sense tells me that stressing out about the Coronavirus is not good for one's health either. Fear of the unknown remains high as evidenced by the empty store shelves and volatile financial markets. However, while schools and public events continue to be canceled in order to stop the spread in its tracks, there's no reason to cancel life. There are plenty of things we can do while respecting the concept of social distancing.
1) Go outdoors. If spring has come early in your area, this is a great time to be outside with your family and friends. It's easy to spread out and still be together. Go for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride. Enjoy birdwatching or photography. Nature can be physically and mentally healing. Most National Parks continue to be open, but check here for specific closures. Check your state and local parks before visiting them, too.
2) Prepare for spring. If your yard is a mess like mine, this is a good time to get outdoors and clean up your flower beds, start a compost pile, and maintain your garden tools. Not only will you get away from the barrage of news stories, it's also a way to socialize with neighbors from a distance as they walk or drive by your yard. And, if you're concerned about food shortages, plant some fruits, vegetables and herbs in your garden or in containers. While it's unlikely that you'll need it, growing your own food might make you feel a little more in control of your sustenance. And it's a whole lot of fun!
3) Cook or bake something new. Get creative in the kitchen. Pull out those cookbooks and ingredients collecting dust in your cabinets. As restaurants continue to close, you'll be looking for fresh ideas. If you're stuck, search for recipes and cooking videos online. If there's a bread or pasta shortage at your grocery store, learn how to make your own. You never know, it may become a new family favorite!
4) Review your finances. With the financial markets in an erratic state, this is a stark reminder to make sure you are financially healthy. A diversified portfolio, no matter how big or small, will get you through turbulent times and reduce stress going forward. Do you have cash to cover the recommended 3 - 6 months of living expenses in case of emergency? Do you have an overall savings and retirement plan? If not, consider consulting with a financial planner sooner rather than later, and developing a workable plan with your family in the meantime. Also, volatile stock markets mean that there are probably some good bargains out there. If you have some funds that you can afford to risk, do some research and consider buying into companies that are relatively cheap right now.
5) Support your local businesses. The economy is going to take a hit for a while. Some businesses are going to see some tough times, while others will benefit from virus-related purchases. Whenever possible, protect your local brick and mortar stores by shopping there first. They will still have to meet payrolls and pay their leases while the economy stumbles. Small businesses are the bedrock of our communities, and they should be a top priority to keep them afloat.
6) Seek wisdom from the elderly. Our elderly population are the most vulnerable during this health crisis, but they can also be the source of great comfort. Chances are, they have experienced many turbulent events in their lifetimes both on the global level (e.g., war, depression, civil unrest) and on a personal level (e.g., poverty, disease, loss). And yet they persisted.
While helping them prepare for coronavirus, take the time to hear their stories. If it's safe to get close, get your kids involved and interview them on video. Go through old photos and label the people, dates and locations together. Hear about the times before electricity, television, internet and even aspirin! It can be quite cathartic. Believe me, you will not regret it!
7) Take a class online. As a stay-at-home mom, I have taken many complete courses online without ever setting foot in a classroom or studying for an exam. I've been a member of LinkedIn Learning, the Great Courses and KelbyOne for many years, and have learned everything from gardening to history to using the latest electronic gadgets to building a website. Other learning sites include Udemy, MasterClass, Rosetta Stone, Varsity Tutors, the free site Khan Academy, and many more. Some of your favorite bloggers and vloggers may offer complete courses, too. Online courses provide a comprehensive structure taught by top professionals that you don't get by watching individual, instructional videos on YouTube (though I watch those, too!) If your kids' school is closed, they can still learn plenty at home.
8) Visit your virtual library. Did you know you can check out e-books and audiobooks for free online? Check your local library's website to see if they make this service available. You'll need your library card number and your library's chosen reader app(s), such as Libby by Overdrive, RBdigital or Hoopla. You can check out and return your library's limited number of copies just like you would the physical copy of the book. And did I mention it's FREE?!? In addition to your local library, sites like Google Play Books, Internet Archive or the Hathi Trust Digital Library make thousands of titles available for free that are no longer under copyright protection. The ability to read the classics and learn your history is all at your fingertips!
9) Organize your collections. Do you have a drawer of photos, recipes, mementos, classic toys, records, coins, stamps or other collections that you've been meaning to organize for years? Take the time to put them in order, document them, determine their value, share them with your family, and explain the meaning behind them. Take advantage of being stuck at home by catching up on projects that are long overdue.
10) Volunteer. Check your local area for volunteer opportunities, particularly with those organizations that are helping to manage this crisis within your community.
11) Develop a survival plan. Since moving to the Washington, DC metropolitan area more than 25 years ago, we have lived through many unpredictable events - the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the anthrax attacks, the DC sniper attacks, federal government shutdowns, recessions, hurricanes, microbursts, and Snowmageddon just to name a few. They were stressful times, and each time we realized we weren't fully prepared to handle the crisis and aftermath. If you don't already have a survival plan in place, let this be a friendly reminder to outline a family plan to handle at least the basics, such as a short-term loss of power, water, gas, food, or access to cash machines. All of these things have happened. You'll be far less stressed if you get prepared.
12) Pray. Stop for a moment to pray. Thank God for the many resources we have for fighting infectious diseases. Think about how far we've come in the last 150 years! Then pray for wisdom and ingenuity of our leaders; pray for our medical professionals and caretakers who are exposed to the virus; and pray for the victims around the globe. There is power in prayer.
And to all those who have been or will be afflicted, I wish you all a speedy and complete recovery! We can all get through this together.