Staying Hopeful During Tough Times
Things are moving quickly these days. With millions of families now working from home or juggling their jobs with kids out of school due to the COVID-19 crisis, our community is facing a host of greater challenges than most of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.
Many of the people I know are already facing financial worries as service industry workers stay home and businesses remain closed, while others are concerned about family members who can’t stay home because they deliver important services or work as front-line healthcare workers or first responders.
These can be difficult and uncertain times, and it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to remain positive when everything around us is in flux. But keeping our mental health in check is more important than ever during this challenging time. That’s why today, I wanted to share with you some things that I hope might help you feel better.
Trying to Find Some Perspective
When you’re going through something that takes over your whole life and completely changes the way people live all around the world, it can seem a bit like the world is ending. That’s why I don’t fault anyone for admitting they’re scared or if they wonder if things will ever be the same again.
There’s a meme going around that talks about all the times in recent history people predicted the end of the world, the point being that they all turned out to be needless worry. That’s a pretty dismissive tone to take because it overlooks how disrupted everyone’s lives are right now. I remember people warning about the Y2K bug or the Mayan calendar ending, but by and large, most people knew those things were based on either superstition or a baseless fear of the unknown.
I’m nearly 44 years old, and I’ve never seen city after city around the world close down to all but essential travel. I’ve never seen a pandemic travel this far this quickly. To say it’s not reasonable to feel afraid is frankly unempathetic. But that’s not to say we have to jump to the most extreme conclusions or live in a paralyzed state.
Statistically speaking, if you do your part and stay home as much as possible, you will run a very low likelihood of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others.
Social distancing isn’t so much about the risk you run personally of dying from COVID-19. It’s about keeping too many people from needing high levels of critical medical care at the same time, which can drain resources and keep people who need it from getting help. The last thing you want is for your kid to need a breathing treatment for seasonal asthma problems and not be able to get that routine help, so we’re all doing our part to help make sure that doesn’t happen.
Red would be happier if she was practicing social distancing
What about those who can’t stay home? Math and community are on your side, too. If your friends, Romans, and countrymen who are able to do so choose to stay home and use good respiratory and hand hygiene, your chance of contracting COVID-19 is dramatically lower than your chance of being disappointed by the ending of Game of Thrones.
It’s also valid to worry about how you’re going to pay the bills going forward. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you may know my family was among some of the worst-hit by the previous recession, so you’ll find a deep well of empathy here. But one thing I’ve learned from that experience is that our economy is constantly changing, and if you do end up hanging out at the strugglemost corner of Struggle Times™, there are lots of resources in our community to help us through the tunnel.
I’ve been thinking about my Great Grandma Bessie Mae Crow lately. She used to can her own food, reuse containers, and hide money around her house. Most gen-Xers probably remember having an older relative who did this. It seemed weird to us, but they had a really good reason for it. These patterns of behavior were echoes of their experiences during the Great Depression.
By the time I knew Great Grandma Crow, she had lived through the Great Depression and two fairly terrifying world wars. Heck, she’d even been a teenager during the 1918 flu epidemic. Just like us, I imagine she faced times of great uncertainty in the world, but for every one of them, life eventually returned to normal, leaving her with the memory of a rough moment in history and an obsession with canning green beans.
Tl;dr we will get through this together and everything will eventually return to normal, even if it is a different normal. And someday, our grandkids will tell our great-grandkids the reason we old-timers ration hand sanitizer and prefer to have our groceries delivered is because we lived through the Great Flu of ‘20.
While we’re all stuck inside finally getting through our Netflix backlogs, there are a few things we can do to make the most of the situation and help out our own mental health while supporting each other:
1. Just Say No to Grocery Shopping
There can’t be much that’s more defeating to our mental health than running to the store to see apocalyptically-stripped grocery aisles. It can be tempting to complain on social media and share images, chastising people for hoarding toilet paper and whatnot. But I’d like to recommend an alternative that will make you and everyone around you feel better.
Because two of our family members have fairly serious asthma, we stopped shopping in stores two weeks ago. Instead, we’ve been going online and placing orders for delivery or curbside pickup. The important thing to remember when you pick up groceries is that you need to order a few days out and plan ahead. Most stores have a minimum order for grocery pickup, but the threshold is fairly low, for example, $30 at Walmart. If you allow substitutions at some stores, you can end up with a higher-end product at the same price, which is how we ended up with five pounds of shredded cheese for $6.
What about families that depend on food pantry food or can’t afford to buy groceries or plan ahead? Many local charities like GUTS, Common Ground, and the Dream Center are offering drive-through food pantry pickup service. You can pop your trunk and never have to risk respiratory contamination. You’ll find lots of information about these options in the Facebook group Stand Up to CoVID 19 – Support Local Tulsa Business or call 211 to get in touch with help.
2. Support Local Businesses
It’s more important than ever to support local business, and plenty of businesses are adapting their offerings. In the Facebook group Stand Up to CoVID 19 – Support Local Tulsa Business, restaurants and businesses are sharing their services and hours. Many restaurants and shops are offering curbside pickup and delivery. For the time being, the ABLE Commission is allowing customers to buy bottled alcoholic beverages directly from restaurants as well. If you’ve been craving a medium-rare steak served with a bottle of good merlot, treat yourself.
Don’t just assume your favorite services and businesses are closed. Many vendors from massage therapists to pilates studios like Total Pilates Studio are also offering private sessions or even making housecalls. Feeling creative? Grab some curbside pottery pickup from Purple Glaze, where you can get some adorable Easter eggs for the kids to paint for only $3-4.
3. Have Some Good Cheer
Earlier this week, Mayor G. T. Bynum encouraged Tulsans to break out their holiday decorations and bring back some good cheer. Across the country, many families are digging out their holiday lights and adding festivity to the front lawn. It gives your family a task to focus on, brings some whimsy to your lives, and sends a message of hope to all who see it.
You can also take a page from the GISHWHES playbook and do something really silly like decorate the front of your house in Barbie dolls or create unique visual art on your lawn. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to do something fun, now’s a great time to embrace your quirky and artful side.
4. Embrace Remote Concerts, Field Trips, and Games
Thanks to the Internet, staying at home isn’t what it used to be. We’ve been playing a regular remote Dungeons and Dragons game for a few months with a party located in three cities. Last night, we defeated an army of toothy caveworms between dinner and bedtime. The possibilities for online tabletop gaming are practically limitless if you really think about it.
Our DND board during combat
If you love live music, you’ll be happy to know that there are loads of free concerts streaming right now. Because most musical artists make their money from touring, many are asking for donations to help support their art. On March 27 at 7 PM, Cain’s Ballroom will feature a handful of artists including Paul Benjaman, Jesse Aycock, Roots Country, Briana Wright, and more. Proceeds from donations will benefit the Red Dirt Relief Fund. Or if symphony orchestra music is more your thing, check out these streaming concerts.
5. Help Others
In all my years as an anxiety sufferer, I don’t know of any better way to help my own heart than helping others first. As parents, you already know that putting your kids’ needs first is a good way to sideline your own worries. That’s because altruism can be a great gift to ourselves as well as those we help.
If you’re feeling low, try doing something to help someone else. Right now, nursing homes and hospitals across the country are on lockdown, which means there are thousands of lonely people who can’t see their loved ones and need every bit of hope we can give them. Many are asking for handmade cards and letters for their residents.
Or consider donating or volunteering to help keep a local nonprofit like Oklahoma Alliance for Animals open. The American Red Cross needs blood donations now more than ever, and they’re one of the safest places you can give a gift of self. You can also set an appointment ahead of time online to donate blood.
More Reasons to Have Hope
If you’re concerned about keeping your lights on when paychecks aren’t coming in, it may help to know that many utilities and services are putting cut-offs on hold. Here are a few reasons to take heart:
- Evictions are currently on hold in Tulsa County until at least April 15th.
- Water cut-offs are temporarily on hold.
- Electricity and gas cut-offs are temporarily on hold.
- Many Internet providers have committed to the FCC to hold off on cut-offs and data caps for the time being. Learn more here.
- Most doctor’s offices are now offering telemedicine appointments so you can still get seen without leaving your home. Contact your provider to learn more.
- The federal tax deadline has been pushed back three months.
- There is a very good chance most Americans who need it will get a direct payment next month to help out in the meantime.
- We live in an amazing community, and we’ll get through this together!
We’ll get through this together
Please take care of each other and don’t forget to look in on your neighbors. Be kind, share some goodness, and make time for fun.
How are you doing right now? Are there any resources you’d like us to help you connect with? From this family’s nebula to yours, we wish you all good health and hope in this tough time.
Thanks for reading, and have a beautiful week in your little nebula.