- - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By the time you read this, you will have likely already felt the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic in some facet of your life. You are likely confined, for all intents and purposes, to an increasingly smaller radius that will, if we hit the point feared by many health care professionals, keep you pegged to your property except for occasional trips to the grocery store.

This “new normal” is frustrating to put it lightly. Americans are a vibrant lot. Orders from federal and state authorities to sit around and twirl our thumbs as we wait for the scourge to diminish is not our cup of tea.

But if we want to win this war against the coronavirus — and that’s what it is — we will have to learn to bear up under the circumstances. So here are a few easy things you can do to keep your sanity over the course of the next few weeks.

Take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. That hobby or book or series of films you were putting off all those years? Now is the time to take it up. The golden rule here: Don’t worry about what you’re doing to keep distracted so much as you need to allow your mind enjoy the distraction. Re-runs of “Friends” are just as therapeutic as teaching yourself calculus.

Also keep in mind the health of the mind is tied to the health of the body. A brisk walk can do wonders. Confined to an apartment or it’s rainy out? Open a window, feel the breeze and try some pushups, crunches and squats. Play catch with your kids. Remember: You don’t need to train for marathons here, just get the blood flowing as best you can. Spurts of bodily reinvigoration go a long way.

Take care of your family and friends. Once you feel good mentally and physically, you are best positioned to help others. Take the time to observe how your loved ones are feeling. If they are sad or anxiety-prone, involve them in your games and distractions. Discover or rediscover one another. Life, as COVID-19 reminds, is short, and what counts most are the people that have been there with you from the start.

Finally, take care or someone in your neighborhood, especially if they are elderly, or mentally/physically handicapped. And while you should still practice the appropriate social distancing, specifically with this cohort, this does not mean the “little” things — a phone call here, groceries on the doorstep there, “thinking-of-you” cards, etc. — can’t be accomplished. Serving others, as you may experience, can be the most fulfilling “distraction” you’ll ever experience.

As you’ve heard the president and others remark, we will get through this. As Americans, we always do, first by taking care of ourselves, then by taking care of each other.

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