At this exceptional time, I deviate from my general policy of keeping this blog mostly devoted to persuasion, consensus building and related communication skills. I want to help others cope with COVID-19 and all it’s offshoot issues. I hope you find these hopes and tips helpful.
Before I relay the good news, a word about what it does and doesn’t mean for us. The good news does not mean, “Whoopee, light at the end of the tunnel. I can stop social distancing and get back to normal.” It does mean that social distancing is working, so we keep it up.
Please read this article about computer modeling indicating social distancing works even better than a forced quarantine, as was done in China. Excellent animated graphics make it easy to understand.
The pattern of the virus’s cycle in Asia and Europe, compared with what’s happening in some of the first US cities to be affected, and to adopt social distancing, also suggests that, within several weeks, it might begin to peak, then, decrease in the western hemisphere.
But no amount of good news makes it easy to hang around home with little to do except worry.
Coping with Solitude
Most of us need some social interaction and some quiet time to ourselves, but many people need more of one than the other. When it comes to social distancing, I’m one of the lucky ones. Of course, I enjoy socializing, but a little of it goes a long way for me.
I feel for those who find it just as hard to stay home alone, or even with housemate(s), as I would find it to be holed up here with another person. No matter how much I like the person, that’s what would have me clawing the walls.
Fortunately, while nothing replaces another’s physical presence, we can soothe ourselves without endangering others.
As you must have seen, many individuals and organizations have created ways to interact safely. I will limit my suggestions to resources that might not be so widely known.
I have played phone Yahtzee with a friend. We each get out our respective game sets at our own tables, then put our phones on speakers and describe our moves and scores.
Check the websites of your local museums and entertainment organizations for free online visual and performing arts. The Music Box Theater here in Houston has “Quarantunes” on their Facebook page: Scroll down and click on “Videos” for excerpts from their most recent program.
Sir Patrick Stewart recites one Shakespearean sonnet per day online. Any good search engine should find them for you.
jacquielawson.com sells beautifully illustrated e-cards suitable for all ages, that let you stay connected and cheer up acquaintances. Some cards include links to jigsaw puzzles or games that the recipients can enjoy over and over.
Even better, the Jacquie Lawson site has an interactive amusement called “Curio Collection.” (It is much better viewed on a computer screen, or even a tablet, rather than a phone.) You will see a room filled with all sorts of things collected by a world traveler. Run your cursor around the picture, and whenever it turns to a hand, click. Some clickable objects will animate, for example, change the hat on a statue. Clicking other objects takes you to games, puzzles, and creative activities, such as flower arrangement or creating a mosaic.
Reach Out to Others, but Safely
When you give another person something – a gift, a phone call, a favor – you feel even better than the recipient.
I got a lot of mood-lifting mileage by contacting my house cleaner and my hairdresser (who makes house calls) offering to send them the price of a couple of service. My cleaner brightened up and thanked me so warmly. My hairdresser was OK money-wise, but said, “That’s the kindest thing I’ve heard anyone say.” I felt pure joy.
Unfortunately, well-meaning individuals with erroneous ideas that seem logical to them, have done things more likely increase the spread of the disease. For example, one fellow cooked up a lot of fried chicken and delivered it to people he wanted to thank, such as supermarket employees. This is dangerous in so many ways.
A person infected with COVID-19 might not show symptoms for 14 days. Also, scientists now believe that not only coughing and sneezing, but even talking or breathing, near another can transmit the virus. Wearing masks if we must go out reduces the risk of infecting someone else when we didn’t yet know that we’re infected. But it is no foolproof sliver bullet. The best way is to stay home as much as possible.
Even if you aren’t infected, you can transfer germs from one surface to another, thus increasing risks for others.
The fried chicken man might have been infected, but felt fine. He breathed on the food while handling it. He likely touched door knobs or handles, then touched food containers. He needlessly donated food to supermarket employees, who are surrounded by food.
If you wish to help by personally delivering something: 1. Wear a mask. Read directions from the CDC about how to wear, remove and clean it after you get home. 2. Make sure the person to whom you deliver wants and needs the item in question. For example, if you have a homebound neighbor, phone and ask if they need anything. Put on your mask, go get the item, and leave it outside the front door. Don’t ring the bell. Rather, walk back to the sidewalk or your car, then, phone to say that you left the item.
A few tips on things I’ve been substituting when I can’t get what I want.
I can’t get the kind of bread I like. But I found a very easy recipe for drop biscuits. And I can get flour, butter and eggs.
Authorities tell us to use disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers, but where are we supposed to get them? Wiping a surface, or one’s hands, with a clean wet cloth is better than nothing. Even a dry cloth or paper towel is better than nothing. It may not kill germs, but it does remove a large number of then from the surface. Non-disinfecting hand wipes are better than none. Feminine wipes, baby wipes and facial (make up remover) wipes can be used for any part of the body (but don’t flush them).
Coping Tips Exchange
As I get additional hopes and tips them, I am posting them as comments below, so be sure to scroll down to comments to get my lastest and check back every few days for more.
I also invite you to share your own corona coping tips as comments to this blog post.
Next Time: How to distinguish science-based information from ideas that seem logical, but don’t test out.
 I change some inconsequential details to avoid identifying particular individuals.
 If you’d like the recipe, let me know, and I’ll send it to you.
As promised, here is more hope-giving news. Lego factory is now producing protective face masks for medical workers.
I’ve been getting everything I really need by ordering for delivery without going to a supermarket or grocery for at least three weeks. But, some things we order don’t show up. So I might order the same thing from two vendors, in hopes that at least one will have it. Then I let the bags sit around for 2-3 days waiting for germs to die, so I forget what I have.
A few days ago, I realized I had at least four new bottles of canola oil, not counting one that I had just opened. I also had extra of some others things. So I emailed some neighbors offering to barter.
So far, I got two russet potatoes in return for two candy Easter eggs. A salmon fillet in return for some cookies and candy. A small bag of tiny Yukon Gold potatoes in return for two apples.
We make the transfer safely. I notify the other person when I’m on the way. She puts her items on the little shelf outside her apartment door. I pick them up and replace it with my trade.
It’s actually been kinda fun.
I appreciate these suggestions. This is indeed a difficult time. We are all aware that a sense of humor can have some positive therapeutic effects at times. My best friend stays aware of the current news and is very realistic but also takes time to watch old episodes of “Mash” and some old movies that she remembers as being humorous. If there is space, I’d like to share something a friend emailed me:
• “Quarantine has turned us into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We are told ‘no’ if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.”
• “The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house, and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.”
• “2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.”
• “Tomorrow is the National Homeschool Tornado Drill. Lock your kids in the basement until you give the all clear. You’re welcome!”
• “Day seven at home and the dog is looking at me like, ‘See? This is why I chew the furniture!'”
Thanks so much, Jody. Your bullet list had me laughing out loud.
Thanks, Margaret! I am in no way glib about all this. We all have our concerns – may I say, “worries?” Yes, they are real, but we also know it helps us physically and mentally / emotionally to take a time out occasionally. I’m thankful for a sense of humor that helps me keep my head on straight.
Here’s a quote from the newsletter of my doc’s organization:
“There is good news out there. Researchers are now testing multiple vaccines in humans, a crucial step on the road to preventing future outbreaks. Massive amounts of research are also going into new therapies to treat COVID-19. And, all our hunkering down has started to flatten the curve, especially in hard hit areas like Washington, New York and California.”
Here’s a tip for making your Clorox wipes last longer. A while back, I finished a container of wipes, including using the remaining liquid with paper towels. I had a hunch I might find this container useful, so I left it on the kitchen counter. Later, I had used a Clorox wipe on a few cabinet handles, it was still wet, but I didn’t see anything that hadn’t been wiped down recently. So I put the still-damp wipe into the empty wipe container and snapped down the lid. I have found that these partly-used wipes stay moist for several days in the container, though if left out, they dry up quickly.