Being Part of the Solution in the age of COVID-19

Most of us have heard the saying “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem…” (-Eldridge Cleaver) and it’s a brilliant truth-ism applicable to all kinds of issues of strife and conflict. 

The surreal circumstances in which we find ourselves these days, however,  tout quite a bit of grey area and don’t exactly lend themselves to an easy answer. 

Most aren’t particularly accustomed to our new normal, and old habits are hard to break. Despite our best efforts, we may find ourselves toeing that line between problem and solution.

While this article is by no means the ultimate guide to a solution, we humbly present a set of  suggestions which may help outline where it can begin: 

Fear Zone-

  • Hoarding at the expense of others: 

It’s tempting to overstock on stuff we’ll never get to use over the course of an entire lifetime. Especially when our once abundant grocery stores look like a post-apocalyptic wasteland but don’t. Just… don’t. 

Take what you need for now and move on, for everyone’s sake, or you’ll just be contributing to the scarcity. Besides, you never know who’s watching and who you may have influenced to do the same. If someone sees you NOT panicking, they’re more likely to follow your lead.

  • Spreading negative emotions of fear and anger:

Everyone bleeds stress differently, and understandably, we’re all anxious right now. But lashing out with anger because you’re stressed and afraid won’t help anyone, let alone yourself. 

  • Complaining because I feel helpless:

Again- this one’s really understandable. It’s safe to assume we all feel a little helpless (or a lot helpless) right now, but complaining to others just doesn’t help. There’s nothing wrong with confiding your concerns, but be mindful about how you do that, and to whom.

  • I pass along memes/news articles/etc without considering their validity:

This one’s not a good idea whether there’s a viral pandemic or not. It’s just especially important now because many of us are panicking, and that lends itself to accepting dangerously false information as fact. 

  • I get angry because of fear and uncertainty:

No one can tell you how to feel, it’s natural, and most of the time feelings pop up without our consent. In times of uncertainty, it’s natural to feel fear. When we’re afraid, there’s a good chance we’ll feel anger too. 

All any of us can do is try to be mindful of these feelings and take a good look at them. We may learn a lot about ourselves and how we process emotions along the way. 

Learning Zone-

  • I’ve made peace with the things I can’t control:

Chances are, we’ve all had some sort of horrible thing happen in our lives over which we had no control. It can take some time but recognizing that lack of control doesn’t have to mean you’re helpless to do the best you can with what you can control.

  • I stop compulsively consuming/purchasing things that are unnecessary for my happiness, and may even be bad for my health:

Like we mentioned before- everyone bleeds their stress differently. For some of us, overconsumption is one of the ways we self-soothe in the face of stress. Making the choice every moment to curb that overconsumption is another step toward empowerment and exercising control over those things we can.  

  • I make it a point to be mindful of and label my emotions:

Again, no one can stifle their emotions, and neither should they. Experiencing emotions is healthy, especially if one can really take a look introspectively at how they feel and where they’ve come from.

  • I’m mindful of situations and work not to handle them reactively:

The second piece of taking a good look at our emotions is learning to feel them without being reactive about them. Taking a moment to understand that you’re angry leads to constructively handling that anger rather than lashing out at others and regretting it later.

  • I validate information before spreading something that may be false:

Speaking of handling things non-reactively, taking the time to vet the information we’re bombarded with can mean the difference between spreading dangerous misinformation and information that can actually be helpful to others.

Now more than ever, we’re a captive audience, and it seems like for better or worse, everyone’s chomping at the bit to take advantage of that. When in doubt, just don’t share it. 

  • I keep in mind that we’re all in the same boat, and are just trying to do our best:

Do unto others, folks, and practice empathy.  

Growth Zone-

  • I think of other people and how they may need help:

For some, a small gesture of comfort will do. Share a laugh from six feet away, people can still see you smiling with your eyes underneath that face mask. For others, help may take a more involved form. There are people out there who need our special talents and capabilities, give a thought to how you can help.

  • If I can be of service or help to others, I will:

Speaking of special capabilities, if and when you see that you can help people in your community without putting yourself or others at added risk- do so. It’s good for everyone else, and it’s good for your soul too. Again, there are things we can’t control, but this is one thing we can. 

  • I live in the present, but keep a clear focus on the future:

Appreciating what we’ve got in the moment is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It also gives us space to breathe and think about the possibilities of what we can expect later. 

  • I am empathetic, both with others and myself:

It bears repeating- do unto others and cut yourself a little slack. We’re all gonna panic a little right now, it’s how you choose to bounce back from that that matters.

  • I show appreciation to others:

Gratitude gratitude gratitude. Just as it makes us feel a little more in control of our lives during a time of uncertainty- it makes others feel more secure when they know they’ve done something to help us or brighten our day. Let them know you’re grateful.

  • I try to spread hope and keep a positive emotional state:

Spreading gloom and doom never helped anyone, particularly in times of uncertainty. No one really knows what’s going to happen at this point for sure, one of the most productive things we can all do is lift each other up. 

  • I consider ways I may need to adapt to change:

Both feet planted on the ground is a rule of thumb these days. While panicking is counter-productive, it doesn’t hurt at all to be thinking about day-to-day ways we can adapt and make our lives a little more practical. 

You may notice an influx of articles on how to preserve foods, cook new things, and make items we’ve never made before. After all, we’ve probably got the extra time, and baking your own bread is a lot of fun!

  • I place value on my relationships, patience, creativity, and times of reflection:

Speaking of extra time- now is a wonderful time to reconnect with our loved ones, our creativity, and ourselves. Regular calls, facetime calls, or other methods of video chat is a great way to keep up with our friends and families. 

Start a creative project, especially if you’ve always meant to try your hand at writing, sketching, or even dance (lots of cool youtube videos out there with choreography and lessons)! It’s also a good time to learn new ways to get some exercise at home

Creating a journal is a good way to reach inward and reflect on this strange time. A shelter-in-place journal would be an interesting thing to revisit later on, that’s for sure, and you may find you’ll continue to journal beyond this. 

Speaking of revisiting- making a time capsule and burying it somewhere in the yard or wherever you have available is a really cool way to capture this time in history. It’ll definitely be fascinating for whoever ends up finding it!

These are tough times for everyone, no doubt about it, but there’s no reason we can’t stay civilized, stay connected, and stay safe. One thing’s for certain- in some ways, this tragedy is serving to bring us closer together as humans, please take care of yourselves and each other.