(photo by Julie Hammer)
We are in extremely uncertain and scary times with the COVID-19 virus and recent shelter at home quarantine orders. Uncertainty of this magnitude can easily overwhelm us with anxious energy (not good for the immune system). So, how can we forget the hysteria and emanate peace during this crisis? First, it’s important to remember that even the slightest amount of calm energy can balance the fear.
As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh explains: “When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”
Here are 5 simple ways you can minimize panic and fill your home with peace during the COVID-19 Shelter at Home Quarantine:
- Replace the Constant Newsfeed with Music. Listening to the news all day is toxic. While it’s important to stay informed, hearing the same information over and over is unproductive and causes additional stress. Instead of the constant news assault, fill your home with relaxing music!! Many years ago, we cut out cable. We are no longer exposed to advertisements, non-stop commentary, cataclysmic language, and an endless stream of news. People who come over comment on how “zen” our house feels and they don’t know why, but I’m convinced it’s because we don’t have “TV energy”. Not only is there only one (small) television in our home- but it’s in a separate room so it’s never intrusive even if it’s off. Try turning the news off for 2 weeks and listen to soothing music instead. My favorite Pandora stations are: Café Del Mar, Diana Krall, and John Mayer.
- Find Comfort in Slowing Down. Americans love being “busy”. Our lives are a continuous blur that keeps our nervous systems on high alert. “Chronic Busy-ness” creates a buzz that is addictive. Therefore, the Corona Virus shelter at home quarantine is the perfect time to practice the art of slowing down. It’s good for the parasympathetic nervous system!! Slowing down requires a conscious shift in thinking aimed to keep you in touch with the present. It’s normal to feel antsy at first, but when you feel uncomfortable, notice it. Then, pat yourself on the back for doing something difficult. Ways to practice slowing down: read a book, listen to a podcast, do a jigsaw puzzle, start a daily meditation practice (my husband loves The Calm App, I simply set a timer and meditate for 15 min/day), spend time with family (off screens), or just chill out and do nothing.
- Cook. Very few people I know cook most of their meals at home despite statistics that say 98% of Americans cook at home (source). The 2 main reasons people do prepare their own food is: cost and health. These are great reasons to cook at home during this crisis but the third reason is that it can be relaxing!!! Using our hands, like in chopping, can ward off anxiety. Try this easy and healthy red lentil and spinach soup. Also, play a podcast while you cook. I love Deliciously Ella’s Podcast.
- Deep Clean and Sage your Home. Start Spring cleaning!!! Not only for the virus, but focus on one area each day to deep clean. Such as: Vacuum under the bed, wash the floors, put vinegar through your dish washer and washing machine, clean out your car, and declutter your drawers and closet. Use essential oils like eucalyptus, lemon, or lavender to purify your home (purifying essential oils). And then, burn sage or “smudge” your home (which I’ve heard kills the virus – although I have no proof). How to Sage/Smudge your home.
- Practice Compassion. When you are shopping for essentials, think abundantly. This means taking only what you need without hoarding items like water and toilet paper. Be compassionate and remember that stores are restocking supplies daily. Also, check in on your high risk neighbors to see how you can help them. Be the rock!! Lastly, send compassion to our health care workers. They are on the front lines risking themselves every day to do their jobs.