The COVID-19 Crisis is not just a threat to public health, it has toppled economies, taken away basic human rights to freedom and privacy, taken the student out of the classroom, created wide-spread panic, isolated household units, and removed our sense of safety, security, and stability. And yet, this time of common hardship has also unified and motivated people in ways never imagined.
The breakdown of the economy, with its soaring unemployment, and the disruption of life by physical distancing, trickles down to the family unit. With increased financial pressure, the loss of the basic rights we spent a life-time taking for granted, and mounting uncertainty, the human spirit is being tested. But it is during times of challenge that we yield our greatest opportunities to learn and to grow.
Mental wellness is your most important asset. Your mental wellness determines the quality of your work, the quality of your decisions, and the quality of your life. These are the hard days. Give yourself grace. Set aside sufficient time each day to disconnect from the outside world, to focus on the gift which is the present moment, to acknowledge the beauty of your family members, to appreciate the life that you currently have, and to check in with friends.
It is appropriate to grieve loss, but don’t languish over problems that are outside of your control (the greater economy; your canceled wedding, graduation, athletic season; or even your postponed Olympics). Instead, exercise full power over things within your control (what time you wake up and go to sleep each day, how you treat yourself and others, the use of your time, the words you choose to speak, the patience you exercise with your loved ones, the messages you spread, the lessons you teach your children, the choice to make the best of your circumstances, and the love you share with others.)
If home confinement is exasperating interpersonal conflicts, identify what your contribution to the conflict is. Examine your own contribution before addressing your partner’s. Treat each other with mutual respect. And don’t indulge in an emotional argument. Wait until you are calm to discuss issues so you can stay objective and logical, approaching your problem with a spirit of joint problem-solving.
I am moved and inspired by those who are stepping up to answer the calling to do good, whether it be by their labor, love, inspiration, or innovation. Our present-day heroes come from all walks of life. They view this time period not as a setback, but as a set-up, to make their most impactful actions.
You, who are shopping for your elderly neighbors, collecting masks for your local hospital, repurposing your factory to make ventilators, deep cleaning pharmacies, continuing to pay your housekeeper while asking them to stay home, stocking grocery store shelves, intubating patients, delivering packages, drafting legislation, lifting moods, and creating engaging distance learning plans; I see you and I thank you. The act of staying home – to help protect those who must work outside for us – in and of itself is a profound societal contribution. Many are doing this despite additional hardships, such as caring for children with special needs. You are our heroes.
While the cumulative losses sustained from the COVID-19 Crisis are incomprehensible, we are gaining compassion as a human race. Seize your opportunity in these circumstances to contribute, to grow, and to shine your immense light.