Down and Out in Corona Country

This week I read that COVID-19 reached a milestone we knew was coming but have all been dreading. We’ve surpassed one million deaths worldwide. More than one-fifth of those deaths have hit (you guessed it) the U.S. and a few other countries, including Mexico and Brazil. Welcome, Mr. President, to the long list of Americans who have contracted the disease.

No matter what happens when this is over, no one I know will be celebrating. Too many people have suffered, are out of work, or are without health care. There is social unrest, and the political landscape is a disaster. The first U.S. presidential debate was an international embarrassment. Who isn’t tired of the rhetoric, the arguing, the lying, and the schoolyard brats and bullies running the government? Have you noticed that the rich keep getting richer? (Amazon sales are up 40 percent from this time last year, with Prime Day just around the corner, and the stock market, for those who can afford to play in it, has been at an all-time high.)

What can any of us do to feel better?

You can start by giving yourself permission to be angry, or afraid, or frustrated, or whatever else you’re feeling. You’ve earned it. Then try to do something positive to balance it out. Here are a few homegrown coping strategies of mine that have helped me these past few months. Maybe they can help you, too:

  1. Make a small difference if you can’t make a big one. Someone I know made a long list of her favorite protest songs and shared them with her friends. Someone else volunteered to make phone calls for her political party. I recommend getting personal. Chances are your tribe needs you. Reach out. Make a date to talk online or in-person with someone you miss. Listen. Be present for them even if it’s hard. Believe me, it will get easier the more you do it. Just trying can bring you out of hiding and make you feel better. And remember, it works both ways. If someone reaches out to you, say yes, don’t run away.
  2. Turn off the news now and then. You don’t need to listen to all the negativity around you every day. Take a break. Watch the Cartoon Network and laugh a little. (My favorite gut-busters are Family Guy and South Park.) Read a fabulous book while surrounded by nothing but silence. I’ve been reading Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs mystery series and loving it. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t look at Facebook for a few hours. Or better yet, a few days. Even better, consider deleting your account. That’s what I did. And guess what? I don’t miss it. Not at all.
  3. Find some inspirational quotes that resonate with you and write them down. This is easy and fun. A simple internet search will yield thousands of quotes. Or buy a book like 365 Inspirational Quotes: A Year of Daily Wisdom from Great Thinkers, Books, Humorists, and More. When I say write them down, I mean pick up a pen and paper, or better yet a journal, and physically write them out in longhand. Then sit with them for a while. Think about them. Ask yourself why they spoke to you. I’ve copied in a few of my favorites from this week below.

Yeah, okay, it’s true, being down and out in Corona Country is no fun, but you don’t have to shrink away from it. You can reach out instead. This is your life. Every minute of every day belongs to you. Participate in it. Take some chances. Laugh a little. I think you’ll feel better for trying.

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

Dalai Lama XIV

“The really important kind of freedom involves being able to truly care about other people.” 

David Foster Wallace

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”

Jack London

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

Rumi

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