I never thought my car rental agency would care so much about my welfare, nor the utility companies that provide my electricity, gas, internet, and phone services. But apparently they do—how nice to know! I’m also on the mailing lists of local museums, theatre groups, discount show ticket merchants, my favorite local organic grocer, a vegan restaurant, and travel sites such as Airbnb and TripAdvisor, just to name a few.
All of them have stuffed my inbox with emails about what they’re doing to protect their employees while continuing to provide services, to the extent possible, during what is certain to become a lockdown situation in the US as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. I realize these welfare-concern emails are mostly about marketing because in our times, a lack of compassion is just not good for business in the 21st century, with voices on social media watching and all.
Even though our predicament is going to worsen before it improves, there is a silver lining to this dress rehearsal for the zombie apocalypse: it’s the perfect opportunity to practice self-care and reaffirm what is truly important in our lives. Since October 2019 I’ve been writing about retreating, what I define as taking time to reset and recharge your life. Now that we’ve been forced to spend a lot more time at home, why not set up your personal space where you can retreat to each day? Even spending only 10 minutes a day focusing on your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness can have great benefits. Getting in the habit now will not only help calm you during these alarming times, the practice will make you feel so much better that you’ll want to continue after the All Clear bell sounds. By the way, we have no idea when that’s going to be!
In addition to yourself, it’s important to pay attention to those you share a home with. Although spending more time with your immediate tribe can have positive benefits, endless days and weeks sitting around the virtual campfire can send even the most patient of souls on the warpath. To head potential issues off at the pass, try organizing a daily check-in. You can also do this by phone or video conference with people you don’t live with but whose welfare matters to you. Here are some suggestions for managing a daily cuddle huddle:
- Establish a specific time. Blocking out a certain time each day sets expectations and ensures that everyone plans accordingly. The amount of time you need depends on how many people are part of your powwow and how much you want—or need—to talk.
- Get comfy. It’s easier to talk and listen when your body is relaxed.
- Turn off all distractions. No television, phones, computers, electronic games, or other diversions. The point is to focus on everyone in the group.
- Let everyone have a turn. Go around the circle so that everyone has the chance to express how they’re doing. Let everyone speak as much as they want.
- Listen with compassion. Make this time about individual feelings. Avoid judgment and blame (Cindy is using too much toilet paper! Johnny didn’t wash his hands after he sneezed!). Express how this situation is making you feel, not how someone else is getting on your nerves. For example, I worry that we might run out of food, rather than blaming someone for eating all the frozen waffles. Then discuss how you’re all going to compromise to allay fears and work as a team to support one another.
- Monitor physical wellness. If someone starts showing signs of infection, please contact your doctor or follow this advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention!
- Stay informed together. Don’t fall victim to outlets that report unsubstantiated “facts” or opinions masquerading as “news.” Do pay attention to health experts, such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authority. Follow all local advisories, including social distancing or self-isolation, particularly if you’re experiencing symptoms or you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
If you feel comfortable being a Good Samaritan, consider the welfare of your neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, or others who might be in a higher-risk group for complications from illness. Offer to help in any way you and they feel comfortable with. They might even appreciate a daily check-in by phone.
Okay, so this isn’t a zombie apocalypse, but it is also not a dress rehearsal for dealing with a global crisis that can be fatal for millions of people. Remember, the precautions we are asked to take aren’t necessarily meant to protect us from getting sick so much as they are meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus so we don’t overload our healthcare system. And what’s the best way to stay healthy? Practice, practice, practice self-care. Oh, and thanks car rental company and airlines and electricity provider and all you others out there for caring so much!
For links to retreats, visit my Retreats page.
Be well and take care.