Choir is canceled for the season. I was going to be singing in the pit for the MacBeth ballet. That's not happening. The concerts with the symphony likely aren't happening. My yoga studio is closed. Pilates studio is NOT closed, which frankly is not a good look at all right now. Restaurants closed to all but take-out. All concert venues closed. I've moved my practice completely online. I've seen a few posts from people in the larger cities indicating how much their lives have changed and assuming it's not like that everywhere. Well, I can say from Raleigh, NC that things are like that here, too. And in every corner of the world. None of us are alone in this. Just because you can't see your friends with your eyes doesn't mean they aren't there. They are experiencing many of the same things. No one is free from worry about finances. No one is free from worry about the health of either themselves or their loved ones or both. Let's take care of each other and check on each other. And let's buy those gift certificates from our local businesses if we can afford them. As stressful as this all it, I'm loving the creativity people are showing, bringing their skills and their support online, opening up paywalls so that everyone helps everyone get through.
This is a stressful time for anxiety-prone populations. Please join me and other health and wellness experts today at 3pm EST for a FREE panel discussion on caring for your mental health while quarantined. You'll hear from therapists about how you and the people you love can reduce stress in the face of uncertainty... and how mental health serves as armor against physical illness.
Watch live on the Healium Facebook page or via their Twitter account.
We aren't usually home this much, and we need enrichment, too. I've seen so many great Instagram Live options. If you don't already have Instagram, it's a good time to get it. Many performers, artists, dancers, and fitness instructors are knocking down the paywall and offering free content right now. Yesterday, I did a live video class with @modoyoganyc, and the day before, I joined in with a dance party with @mkik808. I hear that @basedurham may be doing Instagram Live mat classes soon, too. @carsonellis is posting art challenges every weekday morning, and the results are really great. @therealdebbieallen is doing dance classes using Instagram Live.
Here are a few more resources I've come across:
And some more serious COVID-19 resources:
And let's not forget mental health!
Like the kid resource page, I'll throw things in as I come across them.
I've seen a lot of great resources for kids, and I've been collecting them. Here are a few to start. I will add more to this post as I encounter them, so check back!
I'm a Psychologist, as you know, but I'm also a landlord. There is a lot of fear and panic about how we will all manage financially given what's going on. This represents one perspective I have as a landlord. I'm hoping that with everyone struggling, we will all do our best to make it all work. I realize there will be some people who continue to force solutions when there are none, but let's try and be patient with them. They may soften over time.
Also, for what it's worth, several people suggested that instead of not paying my mortgage in full, I underpay on utility bills since the stakes aren't as high with those.
Attention fellow landlords: I thought I'd share my thoughts on rent and mortgages and what-not here. Maybe you'll see things the way I do. I hope you do.
We only have one property, one that sits in our backyard. Our current tenant has a job that will be adversely affected by coronavirus containment measures. That's a given. They will likely have trouble paying their rent, but I know they will try. It may be less than usual. It may be absent. First thought is selfish: "Dang. That's super stressful. They HAVE to pay their rent so that I can pay my mortgage." But my feeling that they "have to" is like a child holding their breath until they get what they want. Sometimes it's just not going to happen.
My second thought is this, "Well, let's say they literally can not pay. And let's say I can't pay my mortgage in full. I can pay my mortgage partially. And that's what I'll do." Do I want to pass the burden right now to my tenant? Or to a bank? Easy question. The bank.
Will my bank penalize me if I don't pay my mortgage in full? Usually yes, but right now? I'm seeing lots of signs that isn't going to happen. Because they can't kick a large percentage of residents out of home where they live in the middle of a pandemic. It's not safe. It's not even possible. And so the bank just won't get the full rent. Fine. I'm OK with that.
I realize it feels super weird to consider not paying your bills, and you should do your very best to pay them for as long as you can, but we just don't have the infrastructure to penalize every American who won't be able to pay right now.
And so I choose to accept whatever payment I can get, and I am accepting that the bank will get whatever mortgage payment I can afford. I can stretch the paying back time out over several months. They will accept that, and they will like it! And if they call me about it and pressure me? Pretty good chance I won't answer my phone. Because keeping everyone safe is far more important.
People are REAL slow right now to accept that this is happening. It is real. Putting service workers at risk so they can pay their rent right now... it's not fair to them.
I know I'm not every landlord, but this is my little corner of the world, and if I can influence even one other landlord to lay off of your tenants in the next month or two while we flatten this curve, then I'll be glad I posted this.
This is a REALLY great article with cool graphics showing how the virus spreads. And every time you load it, it randomizes so it's a little different every time. It does a WONDERFUL job of showing why what may seem like overreactions are very sensible right now.
Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”
On March 14th, I shared an article and some thoughts:
Everyone's task right now is to right-size your emotional response. If you aren't worried at all, then maybe you are minimizing. This is a pandemic that requires every citizen of the world to make some adjustments in your behavior: more hand washing, limited group activities, standing further apart, less face touching.
If you are entertaining thoughts of what will happen if everyone in your family but you are alive. If you are spending your time thinking and rethinking various horrific scenarios, you are catastrophizing, and you need to return to the moment you are now in. Focus on your present decisions and behavior.
You are not alone. Your friends are still here. Your support system is not gone. They may be standing 6 feet away, but they are still going to be here for you. If you are bad at reaching out, that's not great, but (as I tell my clients of the world), your extroverts usually have your back. Good chance they will reach out. Then all you have to do is respond to them. We make it a little easier.
Take a breath and remember that in this moment, you are safe where you sit.
For those concerned about the financial losses that are invariably coming, remember that you are in a world of many people who are in the exact same situation. MANY bills won't be paid in the coming weeks. That is FOR SURE! I'm already seeing lots of efforts to support artists and service workers. Arts organizations, bars, restaurants, so many other types of businesses will be losing revenue. Is it going to suck? Oh yes. Will it change your long-term plans? Yes. Are you still safe in the moment? YES!
One thing I've found helpful for those worried about the experience of the virus itself is watching videos of those who have had it and are recovering. 96.5% of people who get COVID-19 will recover fully.
Personally, the part of this that is stressing me out the most is people talking about older, sicker relatives minimizing their risk and taking chances. That's such a hard one, and I'd like to thank my mother for having an appropriate response. She's 77 and lives in a 55+ community. She has bought a lot of food and is set up to hang out in her apartment a lot! She and her friends have found a way to play bridge with each other in an app! Anyway, it's really hard when you can't control the behavior of someone you love. You can make your pitch, but ultimately, they may make decisions that aren't great in your eyes. But you don't need to chase them around. That's pretty likely to stress you out and not that likely to change their behavior.
I'm going to try and post a little more stuff like this over the next little while. And read this article. It's a good one.
The psychology of coronavirus fear—and how to manage it
This is a post I wrote on Facebook on March 13th that people really enjoyed. Many asked that I make it public so they could share. It wasn't originally intended for clients, but I hope you find it useful:
You know what's causing me some stress right now? People who are running around social media telling everyone not to panic. The people who they are telling not to panic are people who are talking about canceling events or lots of handwashing. That isn't panic. That's an appropriate level of responsiveness to an extreme situation.
To me, panic is when you get into those what-ifs. Here are some examples of panicky statements:
The future is a black box. We don't know what will happen in the future. To spend a lot of time imagining all the terrible scenarios that COULD play out is a dangerous game. The human brain is perfectly able to begin to feel the feelings that one could have in those situations. We are having feelings about events that haven't actually happened yet. If any of those things do come to pass, we will all pull together and do our best to take care of them then.
But for now, please take care of yourselves and react appropriately to what we know to be true. Things ARE bad, and they ARE going to get worse. But right now... today... Just make sure you are focusing on doing the best you can with today, given what you know.
And please don't spill your panic (you know, the panic you are denying that you are having) to try and get everyone else to attempt denial like you. If I ask you not to hug me (a legit good idea right now), and you tell me I'm panicking, you are making things worse, not better.
If you see a friend who is posting things that make you feel panicked, you can always mute them for a period of time. It's OK. That's self-care.
And speaking of self-care, take a walk, watch a show, pet a cat or a dog, read a book, meditate, do yoga, whatever gets you a COVID-19 break for a minute.
Another post to help ground you in reality rather than in unfocused worry (March 13).
Ok reality check. If you have runny nose, itchy eyes, or sneezing, that’s allergies, not COVID-19. The helpful fact for me is that headache is not COVID-19 either. It’s the high fever, breathing problems, and dry cough that define this virus. Keep as grounded in reality as you can. Extreme measures are very important now, but panic will not help. Be appropriately reactive, as much as you are able.
From the Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty