Three weeks ago, my son Nate, said he was “sick of hearing about the coronavirus.”
“It’s alright Nate, everyone’s a little on edge about it,” I tried.
“I’m not on edge!! I’m just sick of it! That’s all you ever hear about. Everyone’s talking about it. Why can’t we talk about something else? Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Coronavirus! I’m sick of hearing about it!” And he continued for a while longer.
He was right of course. It is all everyone is talking about. And the subtext was that he was “on edge.” I was surprised at first because my wife and I believed we were doing our best. To remain calm around the household, engage in other topics and activities, games, reading, extra Fortnite (I know, I know).
Unfortunately, we also had NPR on 24/7 and were speaking “coronavirus” to each other a lot.
In my own little cocoon, the one I kept hidden from my family and myself, I was also “on edge,” and feeding the monster. Refreshing the Dow, the NY Times, and Google news 20 to 30 times a day while waiting for the hourly “All Things Considered” update. Going to sleep with my iPad streaming cable news (while I checked Dow futures, the NY Times, and Facebook one last time).
I was quietly staggering between anxiety and despondency. Getting very little work done. And most likely adding to Nate’s feelings about the crazy world being thrust upon the poor kid.
Nate’s outburst was a wake up call.
As I write this, I feel much better. If you’ll indulge me, I’d love to share the behavioral changes that have been a tremendous help to my sanity.
- Get away! Away from social media, news, and your phone. I began feeling better immediately. I now limit myself to 20 minutes a day, 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon at predetermined times. Of course, I allow myself to play music on my phone more now than I did at 16! Here’s a great article written by someone much smarter than me.
- Get out. My wife and I take a walk twice a day (usually with our dog). We say hello to neighbors, strangers, thank mail carriers, and garbage collectors (from six feet away of course). I feel better and I suspect (hope) I’m making them feel better. (Coronavirus myth: You cannot contract COVID-19 by making eye contact).
- Get funny. I don’t have the writing chops to relate how fortunate I am to lodge with the funny lady I married. We perpetually quip and tease. We float straight lines to each other so we can laugh at the resultant home run swings and misses. Laughter is the best medicine. Research suggests that it helps reduce pain, blood pressure, and stress. (Please use only as prescribed. May cause loss of breathing, herniated disks, choking, litigation, testicular inversion, or divorce)
- Get recharged. Some of us need alone time. Even 15 minutes a day. A new hobby, a book, a meditation, or a nap (empirically tested), all fall into this category. If you have a quiet space in your home-school-office-playground-gym (even a closet:-), it’s time to use it.
- Get really nice manners. People are on edge. Just assume any tension, conflicts, or Mets/Yankees arguments have nothing to do with you and be extra polite. This will help others (i.e. your loved ones) relax. (Even Yankee fans deserve dignity).
Please share your own sanity tips. I could always use more 🙂
A lot of changes will be around for the foreseeable future, but we will bump elbows again one day soon.