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Have these past two weeks been real?

Take a moment to think about how crazy the things we’ve seen and done lately would seem even a month ago:

  • Fighting with complete strangers over toilet paper and hand sanitizer;
  • Singing aloud while we wash our hands;
  • Checking online for updates on Tom Hanks’ and Idris Elba’s health;
  • Using phrases like “hunker down”, “quarantine,” “social distancing,” and “flatten the curve” not only frequently, but also in an un-ironic fashion;
  • Watching talk-show hosts broadcast from their homes;
  • Having every family, not just those who have chosen to homeschool, suddenly conducting class in their homes for weeks, frantically searching online for lesson plans and craft ideas;

Let me put this into perspective another way. Guys, I live in Massachusetts. Tom Brady left the New England Patriots last week, and it wasn’t even that day’s biggest news story. He’s been with them for 19 seasons. Heck, he’s a football player that I actually know the name of – that’s how you know he’s a cultural icon!

Kidding aside, though, I won’t lie – this has been a frightening time. It feels like we are all preparing for some big storm, but without a definite “start” and “stop” time. We all bought the bread and milk. Schools are closed. So when is the snow day getting here? Is it coming in a day, week, month, year?

In many ways, it feels like 9/11: The unknowing, the eerie absence of live TV shows and sporting events, few if any planes flying overhead, and the sense that everything has changed forever, while things may immediately look the same.

There’s a difference though – when 9/11 occurred I was a teen, a student, “protected” by a force field of teachers and parents and other adults. Now I am the adult, and a parent to a child with complex medical needs who is especially vulnerable to getting sick.

I’m trying to stay levelheaded, vigilant and prepared without sliding into hysteria. The anxiety I’ve lived with most of my life is still there, only now others seem to have these fears, too. (Don’t these other people know I’m supposed to be able to lean on them for reassurance? How can I do that if they are also scared or vulnerable? How rude!)

There are a few things I’ve been doing to stay somewhat calmer over the past week. I wanted to share with you, as I know it’s a difficult time for everyone right now.

  • I’ve been talking to friends and family more over the phone and via FaceTime, rather than relying solely on texting. Folks, we need all the human connection we can get right now (WHILE MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING), and hearing a voice or seeing a face of someone you care about can make a real difference.
  • Coffee makes everything better. I’ve been making and drinking more coffee at home now, and I purchased a gift card to my favorite local coffee shop to support them now when they need it.
  • Never underestimate the power of a sheet mask for your face. Seriously, they cost under $4, they are mess-free, they are individually sealed and packaged, and you can put one on and feel pampered for 20 minutes. Pro tip: When you wear glasses over your sheet mask, you can recreate the Mr. Napkinhead scene from The Holiday. Or not. Your choice.
  • Now is the time for comfort TV. If you need to take a break and watch three hours (or three seasons) of The Office to calm your nerves, this is the perfect time to do so. I personally have been feeling a bit stir crazy, so I’m watching travel shows on Netflix when I need a break from my pals at Dunder Mifflin.
  • I’ve been keeping busy by taking on extra freelance writing assignments. I found that I can manage my anxiety a bit better by choosing what news topics I want to know more about, such as individuals and organizations helping others during this crisis. Mister Rogers said, “Look for the helpers,” so that’s what I’m doing.

If you have any ideas for staying calm right now, feel free to share in comments or on Facebook!

Image credit: Pexels 

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