Unless you have been living on a remote island with no WIFI access, then you know the devastating global impact of COVID-19. During these unprecedented times, we are forced to navigate unchartered territories to establish a ‘new normal’ not only for ourselves, but for our families. As with most disasters, racially or ethnically marginalized groups will likely bear the economic, emotional and physical brunt of this pandemic.
So, how do we find ways to cope with the fear and the unrelenting stress surrounding COVID-19?
Historically, black women have relied heavily upon our faith to get us through trying times. Our faith is like a muscle and the more that we rely upon it, the stronger it becomes and the more resilient we become.
Faith triumphs over fear and our unwavering faith will allow us to cope with the stress of COVID-19.
Whether you know it or not, this moment is history in the making. You get to tell your grandchildren and their children about how you survived the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you to think about where you want to be on the other side of this global pandemic. We constantly complain about the stress of our hectic lives. Well, utilize this time where we are all forced to slow down, to create the life that you want.
Here are some tips to help you survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
1. Create a living space that you do not want to escape from
Now that the lines between home, work, and for some, school life are blurred, we are forced to do a number of activities in our homes. These blurred lines create stress because most of us don’t have the dedicated space to accommodate this transition. However, you can achieve a multi-purpose living area, no matter how limited you are on space. The first step to create a multi-purpose area for our current ‘shelter-in-place’ situation is to declutter! Yes, declutter, organize and clean your living space, sis. Many of us are holding on to far too much stuff that we don’t need.
The saying “Cluttered space, Cluttered mind” is in fact, not anecdotal, there is a psychology, and well, neuroscience behind this. Clutter can negatively impact our mental and physical health. For example, it is associated with increased cortisol (stress hormone) secretion, increased food intake (put down that ice cream), anxiety, and even depression. It is no wonder that people report being “less creative” when they are in a cluttered and messy environment. There are a number of websites (e.g., Pinterest) that can help you achieve an organized, vibrant and clutter-free environment. So, if you want to be productive and feel less stressed while you work from home, then you need to “Declutter your space to Declutter your mind!”
2. Create a new mindset to protect your mental and physical health
When we are faced with challenging times, physical exercise is important to help us cope with stress. Decluttering and organizing your living space exerts both physical and mental energy. Now that you have decluttered your environment, it is imperative for us to create a new mindset to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the ‘shelter-in-place’ mandate, the first thing that my friends and I did was commiserate about all of the things that we were going to lose. None of us thought about the potential benefits from this situation. I saw a very powerful meme that stated that “Our attitude can change with just one word. Instead of saying that I am STUCK at home, say I am SAFE at home.” Believe me, it works. Our thoughts have a huge impact on our mental and physical health. Try these positive spins to replace the negative feelings associated with COVID-19. Instead of saying that I have to cook for my family every day”, say “I get to cook for my family every day!” Even though we are practicing social distancing, this does not mean that we have to be socially distant! Now that we are safe in our homes and we don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of rushing home from work and hauling the kids to their many activities, we can find new (Zoom) and perhaps old (hand-written letter) ways to stay connected with our loved ones.
Tip: Journaling Is a great way to help you practice intentional gratitude. The trick to successful journaling is to write as if no one will ever see it but you. This is the only way to get your most authentic thoughts on paper.
3. Create a family, financial, and health plan
If there is anything that I have learned from our government’s handling of this pandemic is that we were prepared for a street fight, but we WERE and still ARE, woefully ill-equipped to handle the COVID-19 war. Don’t get me wrong, there is no way that we could have imagined the ensuing calamity, but there were warnings. One positive lesson that I have personally learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is don’t just prepare for tomorrow, prepare for the next day, and the day afterwards. If our current state of affairs does not underscore the fragility of life and finances, then I don’t know what will.
Today is the day to sit down, or stand up, if you are so inclined to, and create a financial and health plan to protect your family. We MUST get our proverbial affairs in order. Many of us don’t like to think or even talk about living wills, life insurance, or death. But, we NEED to discuss all of these things right now, at this very moment. To continue to ignore the importance of having a concrete plan amidst this pandemic is irresponsible. Having a plan does not prevent hardships; however, it allows us to more easily navigate through these unforeseen hardships!
One immediate benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it forces us to prioritize our finances. During times of economic strife, we learn rather quickly the importance of designating what we “can’t live without” vs. what we CAN’T live without. Although we may not be “Snatched for the Gods” because we are missing our hair, brow and nail appointments, I bet you are doing just fine.
4. Create innovative ways to engage with your family and friends
We need comfort and support during these unsettling and uncertain times. For the majority of us, our friends and family provide us with the emotional, social, and even financial support that we need to forge through tough times. Right now, we can’t be physically present with our extended family and friends, but that does not mean that we can’t find new ways to engage with them. For example, virtual book clubs, supper clubs, dance-offs (TikTok), and happy hours (#Quarantini) are becoming extremely popular. In fact, many people are actually spending more time connecting with their friends and family than ever before. Don’t allow this period of social distancing to prevent you from being socially connected with your loved ones!
Tip: If you miss going out to your favorite restaurant, turn your kitchen into your favorite restaurant at least once a week. For the first week, you can have your family serve as the waiter and they can take your order and prepare your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant. You can even print a replicated menu. Then, you can flip it the next week and you can create their favorite dish!
5. Create your side hustle or passion project
Unfortunately, some of us will lose our jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the flip side, now you have more time to focus on your side hustle or start a passion project. If you have been wanting to start a podcast, write a book, launch your catering business, or grow a home garden, then there is nothing holding you back! Many side hustles or businesses are created through loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of our lives to slow down, use this time to invest in yourself by focusing on your untapped talents.
Now that you have created a clutter-free environment and mindset, you are equipped to tackle any challenges that you may encounter as you start your new journey.
I know that these are troubling times for all of us, but we will get through this!