In our latest blog series, Catholic Charities NH staff are sharing advice and recommendations that they are finding useful in navigating daily life amid the COVID-19 crisis. Our hope is that they may be able to help you as well!
Today we hear from Brenda French, one of our grant writers, with some helpful advice:
Like most people, I’m doing my best to cope with the COVID-19 sequestration. Some days I’m able to do so better than others. But I keep reminding myself: it’s OK to have a tough day; there’s always a reset for tomorrow, and this time, too, shall pass.
Until then, here are some of my favorite ways to keep my spirits up:
- Take a break from the news. I’ve always believed that as citizens, we have a responsibility to stay informed about current events, and that’s especially true when there are important news stories. But it’s okay to take a “news fast” day or weekend and avoid the news for a time. “Doom scrolling” through social media news feeds can be overwhelming. Instead, swap in a fun activity or even one that’s not fun but will make you feel productive. Personally, I love clean, streak-free windows, especially the ones with a view of the bird feeders. Cleaning windows can even bring on a Zen state as you eradicate the grime and streaks. Sometimes.
- Laugh: Read or re-read some light fare and enjoy a good belly laugh. I once read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” on an airplane, and giggled, guffawed, and snorted throughout the cross-country flight. Passengers nearby stared a bit, but I could not sacrifice the entertainment. Another of my favorites is Steve Kluger’s “Last Days of Summer.” Anything that makes us laugh aloud is prized, especially these days. On a tough day, try Googling “laughing babies” or anything else that you know will make you smile.
- Meditation can modulate mood. If you don’t have experience with meditation, there are apps like Headspace, Gaia, Calm, and YouTube instructional videos to help you learn. Calm also offers relaxing music, too, and soundtracks designed to help you fall asleep. I like to meditate to Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach and always appreciate the attitude adjustment.
Be curious. Learning is stimulating and fun. I lived and worked near NASA in Clear Lake, Texas for a time, and as a result, enjoy following discoveries in space exploration. There are organizations that need the help of citizen scientists to collect information and advance science. If you’re interested in space, you can learn to classify galaxies online, and then volunteer to assist astronomers via websites like Zooniverse. And be sure to explore the photos from Hubble—they are awesome, inspiring, and perfect for sharing with kids of all ages.
If nature conservation is more up your alley, you can help to count penguins in photographs, and it’s a great project for kids ages five and up. If you like trivia, visit Freerice and sharpen your vocabulary. Or refresh your high school Spanish. There are other subjects to explore, including the Humanities, Math, Geography, and Science, while earning rice to be donated to the hungry in developing countries. Kids like to give, and this feels a bit more like a game than a class lesson.
- Snuggle with your pets. They can provide comfort, whether by keeping your feet warm while you read or by sharing some time outside playing fetch or taking a long walk. My husband and I live near Lake Massabesic in Manchester, and it’s a terrific place to walk, run, bicycle, or kayak. The Audubon is nearby, so we often take our binoculars along to see which birds are active. Especially fun now, when so many are nesting and raising their young. And if the weather refuses to cooperate, or you’d like to peek into the lives of the nesting Peregrine falcons on top of the Brady Sullivan building, check out the Audubon’s web cam.
Mentally reframe a challenging situation: Although these days can be hard as we’re separated from extended family, friends, and colleagues, there are some positive aspects to the circumstance, especially if we think for a minute. I like to remind myself that we are fortunate to have access to technology in order to be able to work productively and communicate with our loved ones. I’m old enough to recall how shockingly expensive long-distance calls used to be.
It’s great to remember that we’re still free to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather and the blooming flowers. [I think of how hard it must have been to be in Anne Frank’s family, hiding in a small, hot attic with insufficient food. Or John McCain, when he was a POW during the Vietnam War.]
If you have adequate stores of paper products and pasta, you’re in a good place compared with some other people. I recently scored 500 coffee filters and felt a great sense of relief. Sometimes the smallest things can give us a thrill.
It also seems to me that it’s likely our children will remember 2020 as not only a time when they were separated from their friends and teachers at school, but also when they enjoyed spending more quality time with their parents and siblings. You’re creating some fascinating stories for your descendants just now.
- Communicate: Like Michael, I’ve enjoyed calling friends and catching up with them, some of whom I haven’t spoken with for too long. I’m also making a point to regularly phone friends who live alone or are elderly, to let them know I’m thinking of them, and care about them. I know they appreciate it, and it’s a wonderful reminder of how many terrific friends I have and how rewarding it is to reconnect.
Life in the time of coronavirus is not easy. Soon enough, we all hope, life will open up a bit more and some aspects of our routines will be accessible again.
The best part, I think, is that we will get to choose which pieces are valuable, and which can be discarded. Maybe the family will want to continue game night via Zoom on Saturdays in addition to Sunday dinners gathered around one table. It’s up to us!