You’ve probably overdosed on reading about COVID-19, the recent pandemic that has gripped the whole world. The warnings, the symptoms, the remedies. Every digital device from social media to Whats-app messages, has us on edge.
Meanwhile, many of us are fortunate to be physically healthy and unaffected, practicing caution through good hygiene, limited interaction or self-quarantine. But despite these efforts, our emotional and mental health maybe suffering.
Fear, stress, anxiety, anger, greed are all emotional states, not physical symptoms. Yet, not one of them makes us feel good. Just like any physical ailment, we are left feeling exhausted and drained after experiencing them.
On the other hand, the emotions of happiness, joy, excitement, care and appreciation, are all emotions that lifts our spirits, and makes us feel great.
Similar to the practice we have in place for our physical health, we also need, proactive steps to ensure we are managing our emotions and remain balanced.
In this realm, the connections we have with people, plays a significant role. Not just in the things we do with them, but the things we do for them. Helping, supporting, sharing, these are all actions that not only benefits others, but impacts our own emotional health positively.
So what are some of the ways we can experience increased social and emotional connections without compromising our physical safety?
Here are some ideas:
1.Reach out: Social distancing does not mean disconnecting or being anti-social. It means a physical distance carried out with a large number of people.
If you happen to be home, plan out a simple act of checking on your neighbors and see if they need anything. The concern you show and the exchange you have, will fill up the hearts (and lungs!) with happiness. If in-person is not possible, use your phone to call or message those you know in different parts of world or even close by.
A few days back I messaged a colleague of mine whose kids were studying abroad. We had a lengthy exchange which ended in hilarity, of how worried he had been for their safety, when they had been away and now that they were home, how worried he of his sanity! In a few minutes, both our moods altered and spirits were uplifted.
2. Deliver the Good(s): In addition to verbally acknowledging our unsung heroes, the wonderful healthcare workers, why not send in notes, flowers or care packages that conveys our thanks for selflessly putting their lives at risk and saving others. See the joy in the picture below, of health care workers who received handmade gifts by a group of volunteers.
3. Start a Drive:
If you want to extend these great feelings, you can organize something that has more long lasting effect. Think of people who are in less than desirable situations, the elderly in nursing homes. the homeless on the streets. Can you send some food, clothes, medical supplies to them? Reach out within your network to see who would be able to guide your cause.
One of my friends raised awareness for our immigrant workers, here in Singapore, because they were more vulnerable and at risk of falling sick. They managed to collect masks, detergents, sanitizes and soaps, as donations. In the duration of a few weeks, they were involved in several steps of sending messages in the community, getting together for packing supplies, collection and distribution.
Not only were they instrumental in delivering goods but also conveying to the migrant workers how much they matter. The smiles alone created ripples of delight for everyone involved.
4. Boost Morale: If you are a business owner in the service industry (F&B/hospitality/etc) it is an especially a stressful time. Think of ways to builds up the morale of your employees. Encouragement, appreciation, inspiration all influence our emotional health. Think creatively and see how you can convert your space for employee celebrations or personal development training they can value.
I recently read of one family cancelling their celebrations, due to the virus, and instead packaging the food and sending it as deliveries to people in quarantine. How does that make us feel when we read such things? Why not create more of it?
5. Offer your resources or expertise. Take stock of what you have to offer. If you’re a landlord waive off the rent, if you’re in the supplies business, distribute needed goods or reduce prices, if you’re in the service industry offer to help with your expertise. I loved the initiative of Chef Jose Andres who converted his restaurant into a community kitchen, providing free to low cost food to those affected.
If any of the above seem too involved, pick something small and simple to quickly lift moods.
Buy something for the cashiers next time you’re at the stores. Acknowledge their in keeping things going. Facing cues and flaring temperaments can’t be easy for them either.
Offer to share some of that extra stuff you brought. The fear that led to panic buying can also be alleviated through sharing and feeling more selfless.
Order from your local restaurants and send in a personal note of motivation. Leave extra tip if you dine in-person.
Share hope not fear. Make a commitment to write uplifting messages online
Indulge in social (media) distancing. Take frequent breaks from devices. An overload of information, weighs heavily on us emotionally. Disconnect digitally and spend that time with your family and friends, the very people we want to be safe and protected
I hope some of these ideas inspire you to take actions. Start the day with intention and end in execution. Include tasks that will help shift thoughts, alter moods and uplift spirits for everyone around.
What is heartening for me to see is that as the number of cases rise globally, so does our humanity.
In the end, a world of people coming together, showing monumental acts of selflessness, surging generosity and heroic efforts to care and help, will be stronger than any force needed, to fight back and wipe out this pandemic completely.
Please do share any experiences or ideas you have, that builds on this, in the comments below. After all, happiness too is contagious!