As the days move into weeks, and we continue to try to find a “new normal” sheltering in place at home, we'd like to share with you a brief COVID-19 Stay At-Home Survival Guide created by Ruth Steinberg, LCSW.
#1 Physical Distancing, Not Social Distancing
Remember that the term “social distancing” is truly a misnomer. While we are being told to distance ourselves physically from others, we do not need to be out of touch with them. On the contrary, this is the time we need to be closer than ever. Whether by phone, FaceTime, or Zoom, we need each other and to know we are available to each other for support. This is particularly important for those you know living alone. Connecting with them is crucial—it is a lifeline right now. And physical distance is now no obstacle to being in touch. Connect with loved ones near and far during this challenging time.
#2 Add Structure to Your Day
As we enter this third week in a new, surreal environment, it is more important than ever to be sure there is rhythm to your day, as without this added structure, it can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and even depression. If you are working from home, structure your day and give yourself realistic goals. But, be sure to add in relaxation and pleasurable experiences to look forward to, such as a great meal to prepare or an excellent movie to watch!
#3 Physical Health and Mental Health
We must pay attention to both our physical and mental health. If you can, try to stay moving—especially if you were active before. There are terrific yoga and exercise classes now being offered online. If you can get outside safely and physically distance, take a long walk. I do this every day, and it is keeping me sane! But our mental health is equally important. Protect yourself from too much negativity, as we can only absorb so much before it overwhelms us. Stay informed, but limit how much news you listen to and watch from reliable, neutral sources—and then turn it off. If you have ever considered meditation or mindfulness work, now is a good time, and there are many resources available. Try some of the Jewish Federations of North America's new resources at https://www.jewishtogether.org/for-the-self.
#4 Get Creative to Lift Your Spirits
Let’s face it, this is a tough time. It is very easy to get despondent and lose hope, especially when we are confronted with fear and the uncertainty of how long this situation will last. But we must be active in getting creative about lifting our own spirits, and those of our loved ones. The Los Angeles Times just published an entire section called Lift Your Spirits: We Know What We Can’t Do, Here are 100 Things We Can. Call on those things you already love, or cultivate something new. In my house, we are huge opera fans, so we have been devouring the Metropolitan Opera’s free nightly streaming of past telecasts at www.metopera.org.
#5 Reach Out to Others
Finally, research shows that when life is at its darkest, reaching out to others in need can help us feel better, more useful, and more in control of what otherwise makes us feel so powerless. There are ways to help, even without leaving your home. Something as simple as calling people on the phone, who may not have others to call them, is very meaningful. Remember that something which feels small to you may be huge to someone who receives it. As the Chasidic quote at the top of this letter reminds us: even a small amount of light can dispel a great deal of darkness. What light can you bring to this darkness?