Staying Positive in the Face of Coronavirus Fear

March 17, 2020

Luna and I are working at home

Here in the U.S., things are getting weird. Fights are breaking out over toilet paper, businesses and schools are closing, and a new term has entered our vocabulary: social distancing. The COVID-19 coronavirus is wreaking havoc all over the world.

And my library just closed. Now it’s getting serious.

I don’t mean to make light of this situation—it’s the strangest, scariest thing that’s happened in my life, except for 9/11. I’m not especially worried about catching the virus—I work from home and don’t spend much time with people other than my family and close friends—but I do worry about my husband and son, who work with the public, and my older family members, some of whom have health issues. I’m also deeply concerned about what will happen to the economy after this is all over.

Following the news has made me anxious and depressed at times. But I remind myself that living is risky. Virus or no, any one of us could be struck down at any time—we just don’t think about it that often. Our attention turns to the fragility of our way of life, and life itself, when something like this happens.

We always have a choice, however. We can let the coronavirus bring out the worst in us, or the best. This is our chance to work together to reduce the spread of the virus and help each other along the way. As usual, our attitudes are key: can we remain positive in the face of fear and uncertainty? Can we pause and notice the simple pleasures we’re usually too busy to see and savor? Can we use this time to become more thoughtful and real?

While we’re walking this hard road, here are some things we should remember:

  • Follow instructions from authorities regarding social distancing—if we have the virus but don’t realize it, we can spread it.
  • Don’t hoard. Buy only what we need and leave the rest for others.
  • If possible, help those in our community who may be dangerously isolated, especially the elderly.
  • Remember that this won’t last forever.
  • Try to stay in the moment and avoid “awful-izing” about the future.

We can also remember those who are being hurt economically by this shut down: small businesses, authors’ whose book tours have been postponed or cancelled, artists and crafts people who make a portion of their income through teaching or shows, performers who may not be paid when their productions go dark, servers who miss out on tips, parents who can’t afford childcare for kids who are unexpectedly out of school. Keep your eyes and ears open for ways to help if you can.

And take care of our physical and mental health by finding positive ways to release fear and tension. I stress cleaned my closet and dresser this weekend, a job that has needed doing for months. I’m eyeing my office next—it would benefit from a deep clean. And I think working out would be a better way to cope with stress than eating barbecue flavor potato chips, which I don’t really like that much anyway but they’re salty and crunchy and…well, you get it.

When the weather and situation permits, step outside for a breath of fresh air. Wash our hands more than usual (and apply hand cream after!). If we find it’s getting to be too much for us, set limits on checking updates and avoid inflammatory articles. And every time we read something scary, look for a positive story—such as “Coronavirus sparks an epidemic of people helping people in Seattle.” 

While we wait for world to settle down, here are some links you might find helpful:

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has some excellent suggestions about how to stay as happy and calm as we can be in this situation here.  

Modern Mrs. Darcy (whose own book tour has been cancelled) is hosting a Stay at Home Book Tour. Sign up for this free series of events, which will take place over the week beginning March 23.

Working at home? Click here to download Jamie Varon’s Work From Home Survival Guide.

How to Touch Your Face Less (since touching your face is one of the main ways you can infect yourself).

And from Catching Happiness:

I sincerely hope you’re all healthy and safe. If you feel like sharing, let me know in the comments (or hit reply if you’re receiving this via email) how you’re coping with coronavirus fears. 

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  1. Excellent suggestions on keeping ourselves occupied so we aren't dissolving into puddles of angst. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome! It's going to be so important to manage our stress and anxiety so as not to make things worse! Easier said than done, I know.

  2. Dear Kathy just reading your positive post and following your links relieved my stress. We will get through this and in the meantime take care friend. Hugs!

  3. I just LOVE and adore this post, Kathy. As always, I thank thank thank you. Your writing gets to the important points so beautifully. And thanks for the links. I like that term: "Stress Cleaning." I like that. I guess I've been doing that too, and Stress Organizing (Thank you, Marie Kondo) Here we go for walks outdoors, we have a lovely path by the water...People there are in good spirits, so yes, we have the ability to be positive. I hadn't heard about fights over tp...? Here people are pretty kind in the tp aisle. A small town where we are not too crowded...Good health to you, Rita

    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Rita. I haven't personally experienced anything but politeness, thankfully, but it's a good thing I already had an emergency stash of TP (in my hurricane supplies), or we would be in trouble. The stores here are pretty empty of paper goods.

      I did a clean out and inventory of my pantry and emergency supplies yesterday, and a grocery shop today, so my stress level has dropped a little. I'm still going to do more cleaning and organizing, because that makes me feel I have a tiny bit of control in a scary situation! And, of course, I'll read and sketch--and probably start posting on here more regularly.

      Good health right back at you, Rita--so nice to hear from you. :)

  4. Kathy,
    I posted a link to this post on my post today. Hope that's OK. I want people to benefit from your positivity! Back to some organizing. A friend refers to "deep cleaning." That sounds soothing too. Rita

    1. That's just great, Rita. I hope my words can offer a little positivity right now.