It already seems like so long ago. Seemingly overnight, life went from normal to upside down.
Since then we have all been tasked with accepting the “new normal” of a life in quarantine, while the world at large fights the Coronavirus pandemic.
The news continues to frighten us with statistics, and we struggle with the separation from friends and family. We fear for our own health and others, and jobs are evaporating faster than we can track.
But, as with any crisis, the only way out is through. Everyone copes a little differently, but perhaps my experience will give you some ideas about how to hang in there. So, here are the three things I found most helpful in reversing my own anxiety.
I had some options to venture outside my area and stay with people, but ultimately I decided the risk of being stuck away from my own home wouldn’t be worth it. So, I stocked my pantry with food and vitamins and committed to weathering out the storm from the eye of it …New York City.
I accepted that the crisis was real, that it would probably get worse before it got better, and that both the immediate and the distant future were out of my control. But with no major decisions to make, I felt a sense of relief knowing that my next steps were just to stay healthy, be responsible and settle into this “new normal.”
After a week of staying up late drinking too much wine to calm my nerves, followed by oversleeping and wasting the day fielding FaceTime calls with family and friends and generally feeling lost — I’d had enough. Even if most of my jobs were canceled (I’m a self-employed personal stylist and writer), and my calendar was virtually empty, I needed structure.
So, I created an Excel spreadsheet with a daily schedule that began with a morning workout to boost my mood and productivity. I blocked out time for tasks like answering emails, another block for calling loved ones, another for social media, one for household projects and — perhaps most important — one for creating.
Outside of the allotted time slot for connecting with friends, I began keeping my phone upside down and on silent so I wouldn’t be distracted by the multitude of friends in the same boat. Completing even mundane tasks, such as reorganizing my cabinets, gave me a sense of accomplishment. Scheduling them also kept them from interfering with the more important work, namely creating.
3. Appreciating the Positive Effect on the Planet
One of the best news to come out of the crisis of Covid-19 is the effects on the planet. When I began to read reports of dolphins reclaiming the canals of Venice and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, I felt a huge shift in my fear.
Rather than feeling like we were spiraling toward our doom, I began to feel like this pandemic was Mother Earth forcing us to do what was necessary to clean up our act. After years of politicians battling it out over how to solve climate change, we were finally making some progress. When I reframed the problem this way, I could wrap my head around a temporary life of quarantine and tight restrictions by knowing it was not in vain.
I also realized how much my sanity depends on feeling useful. So I began finding other ways to help individuals who were suffering more than I was, or support small businesses that will struggle to recover.
I started using my social media for more than just memes and New Yorker Cartoons, and began sharing ways that others could get involved. Spreading positive messages of hope in a time of fear gave me a sense of purpose, and I began to redefine myself outside of my job.
How Have You Been Coping?
How have you been coping with the crisis? Do you have any links for ways others can donate, volunteer or otherwise be helpful?
Bio: Natalie Decleve is a bicoastal personal stylist and journalist specializing in living both sustainably and stylishly. Her global approach to style and commitment to the greater good are evident in her contributions to publications such as Mind Body Green, Harper’s Bazaar, SELF, Bon Appetit, A Hotel Life and her own site, Natty Style. Her natural philosophy on style is aimed at empowering her clients to look as authentically great on the outside as they feel on the inside. Follow @natty_style to get inspired.
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