by Sally Fletcher

     This is a time of change (in case you haven’t noticed). You just as well get used to change because it happens all the time, just not so dramatic as the present time. During this pandemic many individuals and businesses experienced severe setbacks, and some won’t recover. Some people lost their lifetime savings because of the stock market declines. Many people were severely ill and many people died. We were frustrated and bored because events were canceled. There is a lot of anger and blame because our world has been turned upside down. Some are protesting the quarantine. Just remember that this deadly contagious virus doesn’t care what people want or think they deserve.
Eventually, we’ll look back on the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 as a challenge that prompted some good results along with tragedy. It resulted in the senate working in a bipartisan way (for a while at least) passing bills to aid individuals and businesses economically. The medical community and scientists are working hard to develop new medicines, testing and vaccines. The shelter-in-place order to stay at home resulted in families spending more time together, becoming closer, laughing together, and appreciating the endearing qualities of loved ones. It also caused disagreements and annoyances, even domestic abuse. Parents who were thrust into the role of teacher for their children were overwhelmed. They now have more empathy and appreciation for teachers. Individuals used old methods to reduce stress and learned new stress reduction methods.
I learned how to teach my students online, using Zoom and Facetime. I played my harp more, relearning music that I once could play from memory, and improved my harp skills. I read more, some new and some old books. I took longer walks around my neighborhood, admiring flowers in neighbors’ yards. I worked with the flowers in my own yard. I spent more time practicing yoga, doing asanas and deep breathing. I also gave myself permission to do “nothing” part of the time. I’ve always spent quite a bit of time by myself, but I don’t want to be a hermit.  I realized which activities and social contacts I missed, what was important to me and what was not. When I found boredom creeping in, I reminded myself that I only had to stay in my home. Many were afraid they would lose their homes, others had loved ones who were sick with the virus or were sick themselves. Many weren’t working, desperate for money, food and wondering what was going to happen next.
So much of the stress during this time is not knowing how our lives are going to change. We don’t even know whether we have been exposed to the virus, if we had a light case of the virus, if we will become ill, or if we will die from the virus. We don’t know how this is going to affect our lives, how it will affect our friends and families, the economy and the government. If you are spending a lot of time trying to figure all this out, you just as well stop driving yourself crazy. We read and hear so many predictions and figures that it becomes confusing. Our world will never return to normal, whatever that is. No one is a prophet and no one has all of the answers, including you. There are too many variables for us to predict what’s going to happen. It will be easy to look back on history and see what we could have done differently, how everything changed, and why. We can’t accurately predict what’s going to happen during a time when we’re right in the middle of it. Not knowing doesn’t mean not caring. There are plenty of simple things we can do for others, such as donating money to food banks, calling others to check in, waving at others during a walk. There are some simple things you can do for yourself. Take time for relaxation or meditation, remember to breathe deeply every so often, watch movies or TV, read, listen to music, laugh, anything to ease the stress of this difficult unknown time. Each time you’re washing your hands, do some deep breathing and focus on the moment. Count your breaths in and out for a quick meditation.
You will read and hear many different predictions from people with false certainty. That false certainty may feel comfortable if it’s what you desire, but no one knows exactly when or how we will get through all this. In challenging times I usually ask myself, “What can I do?” I studied music and psychology, not science, so In this case, the only thing I can do is stay at home, entertain myself, eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep to keep my immune system strong. I need to be patient and let the scientists and medical experts come up with treatments and a vaccine. Someday these times will be history; then we can tell stories and show pictures of how we lived through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.