Trying to Maintain a Sense of Balance When The World is a Dumpster Fire

I know what’s on your mind right now, because it’s on my mind, too. It’s on everyone’s mind. Whether you think everything is overblown or your prepping for end-times, we’re all talking about the same thing: COVID-19. The Coronavirus. The thing we are all sick of talking about and yet can’t stop talking about.

Like most others in the US right now, I have had one rollercoaster of a week. I went from thinking that people were needlessly freaking out, to freaking out myself, to washing my hands obsessively and showering twice a day, to being proactive about solutions in my second job. I’ve been wearing gloves I can wash every time I leave the house and have to touch things. I have hand sanitizer in my car.

Last night, I was grateful that my Kempo class was still on, as I desperately needed to hit something and work off some of this ever-present anxiety. The fear is everywhere. And for those of us who are uniquely sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others, the fear is heightened exponentially. Which leaves us anxious, stressed, exhausted . . . and more likely to be affected with whatever illnesses are floating around right now.

If you’re anything like me, you’re really struggling to maintain some sense of balance right now. If you’re someone who is immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk (like my sister-in-law and many friends), “balance” is out the window and you’re just trying to convince others to not inadvertently kill you by accidental exposure.

A picture of the author wearing a hood and sunglasses, looking off into the distance in front of a lake.
A moment of peace, a moment of zen . . . a moment that took place several months ago.

Things are changing on a moment-to-moment basis, but here are some things I’m going to start doing now to help re-find some sense of ease while the world goes down in flames around me. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you, too.

  1. For Fuck’s Sake, DISCONNECT! If your Facebook feed is like mine, it is awash in memes, suggestions, people panicking, people picking on other people for panicking, and news article after news article. It can be too. Damned. Much. Same with the media, which is grinding out grim-faced reports with dire music left and right. My advice? Step back. Turn off the social media (I’m on a Facebook hiatus right now), and stop checking the news every five minutes. Set aside a time once or twice a day so you can stay informed. Otherwise, take a step back and let your system reset itself.
  2. Do Something That Makes You Feel Good. Escape into a book or a lighthearted movie (or for some of my peeps, a good serial killer story). Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, or making some tasty food. Maybe it’s calling a friend or knitting. We all have our own techniques that we use when we’re feeling down; I suggest breaking a few of those out and making good use of them. Lately for us, we’ve been watching Star Trek: Discovery and Picard. When things seem a little too bleek, we watch reruns of Star Trek: Next Generation; they’re less dark and easier to digest.
  3. Eat As Healthy as You Can. Part of keeping up a good immune system is eating healthily. It will give you the vitamins and minerals (not to mention fuel) you need to keep your immune system in top form. I know it can be stressful these days going into grocery stores; I was in one yesterday and it was . . . not fun. If you have to go to the store, I recommend going in off hours (one friend went at 10pm and had the place to herself). I won’t tell you what’s healthy for you; you know that best. Just do what you can to maintain your health to the best of your abilities. And if you’re taking meds, make sure you keep taking them.
  4. Find a Quiet Place and Just Be. Maybe you have a nice, cozy, quiet space in your home. Maybe your quiet spot is that one corner of the library. If it brings you peace and some distance from everything that is going on, go there. Sit, read, meditate, take a nap . . . whatever is going to calm your system down so you feel less frantic. If your quiet space is in a public place like a library or coffee shop, know that they’re doing all they can to keep their spaces open for as long as possible while maintaining everyone’s safety. If the closest you can come to a quiet place is putting your headphones on and drowning the world out with music, then have at it. That counts, too!
  5. How Can You Be Comfortably Proactive? One of the most frustrating things about this whole mess is how out of control it is. We all feel like we can’t do anything, so we’re grasping on to the things we can do . . . like hoard toilet paper. The thing is, that’s not proactive; that’s fear. Thinking calmly, come up with a few things that you can do that will make you feel in control of your situation. Maybe it’s sitting down and writing a blog (ahem), or maybe it’s stocking your pantry. Perhaps you can check on at-risk neighbors to see if they’re okay or if they need anything. Whatever it is that you feel you can do without panicking and without a sense of dread will help you feel more in control of an out-of-control situation. And for Christ fucking sake, wash your goddamned hands. Sorry, but it’s pretty much the most proactive thing you can do.
Grocery store shelves empty of toilet paper, but there are still plenty of feminine hygiene products left.
My local grocery store, yesterday. I’ll be screwed if I gotta pee, but if I get my period or a yeast infection I’ll be fine.

There’s a lot of other political and economical stuff I could say here, but I won’t. There are others saying it much better than I ever could. All I’ll say is, do your best to take care of yourself and those around you. Be proactive, but please please please also be kind. There is so much fear right now, and picking on people because they’re unsure how to wash their hands properly or because you think they’re making a mountain out of a molehill solves nothing.

Be kind, be safe, be responsible. Be well.