Jessica: Be Safe, Wash Your Hands & Practice Empathy

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As I sit at my desk trying to brainstorm a topic to write about — any topic — that avoids addressing the strange situation unfolding around us, I come to a realization: I can’t. It’s been about a week since schools around the nation have sent students home in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since then, I’ve been desperately trying to establish a regular routine and limit how much I talk about the daily news updates (knowing fully well it isn’t helping anyone’s anxiety levels). Yet I can’t help but stray from whatever task I’m supposed to be focusing on to ponder the uncertainty of today, tomorrow, the near future… 

At this point, my mind looks something like a word cloud with a million distractions and the phrases VIRUS, PANDEMIC, and THE WORLD IS FALLING APART bolded in large font.

And thus, I come to realization #2: It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Chances are, most people are feeling just as confused and worried as you are. After all, it’s hard to avoid dwelling on it when it’s constantly in the news and on every social media platform. Staying informed is never a bad thing, though; in fact, it’s important to keep up with updates for health and safety measures. But it’s also important to take a deep breath, give yourself some space, and be reassured that things will get better.

Realization #3: It’s okay to want to talk about it.

Just a few days ago, my friend messaged me asking if it was okay to feel bummed about having to spend her birthday in quarantine. She felt that it was a stupid and selfish feeling to have, considering that the pandemic had plunged countless people into a desperate struggle to remain healthy, keep their jobs, and support their families.

If there’s anything that we should gather from this moment, it’s that everyone is fighting different battles against the same common villain. While others will inevitably be dealing with other, sometimes more severe issues than ours, that doesn’t mean that what you feel is invalid. Our emotions aren’t something that we should be hiding in shame or fear; that won’t benefit anyone, much less yourself.

At a time when everyone is struggling to find security, happiness, and hope amidst the chaos, it’s okay to feel sad, angry or scared. Perhaps the best advice right now is to have empathy and be open to helping others. Donate to local and relief charities, ask seniors in your neighborhood if they need assistance picking up groceries and essentials, and be open-minded when listening to others (while practicing social distancing!!). Simply phoning a friend and understanding what they’re going through can go a long way. And in turn, it’ll make you feel less lonely in a world that’s collaboratively battling this global threat together.