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Staying positive during scary, uncertain times

When our son, Everett, was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, it was a shock beyond most people’s comprehension–kids don’t actually get cancer do they? And my child? How? We held onto hope like it was all we had ever known. And although there were times of complete despair, we never let that hope dwindle during those scary months of uncertainty. That’s what you do. That’s all you CAN do.

During the current global pandemic of COVID-19, our whole world is reaching for some inkling of hope. When will this end? How bad will it get? Will someone I know become dangerously ill? Or god-forbid, die? What will happen to the economy, to my savings, to my job? It’s very scary and uncertain, and I wanted to draw some parallels to what we went through as a family that experienced childhood cancer and child loss.

The first seed to plant in your mind is, “This too shall pass.” It’s a mantra that you can repeat throughout the day as you struggle to homeschool your kids, as you worry about your stock of toilet paper (or more importantly, food), as you question your sanity without social interactions. We have to nurture that seed of intention because it will grow, and bloom into gratitude…

And while “This too shall pass” doesn’t technically apply to a family that lost a child–that grief will never end–the feelings of grief do come and go, and we don’t take for granted our surviving child, this extra time with family, and the beauty of the world around us. Speaking of which, have you been outside?

If I were to give my #1 piece of advice on how to stay happy during this time, it’s just that, get outside, stay 6′ away from others, and breathe in the gorgeous spring air. Walk swiftly or slowly and just be in nature, which is actually healing during this time of lower productivity. See dolphins, swans and satellite images.

Not only that, but it will also help to…

Limit your news intake. It’s everywhere, we are bombarded with fear and questionable facts online. Find a trustworthy source (preferably one based on science) and just check it once or twice a day to stay in the loop.

Laugh. During stressful and serious situations, comedy helps. All the coronovirus memes going around are certainly good for a chuckle, although too much of a good thing isn’t good, so watch your time on social media too.

Look after your neighbors. The act of checking in on them (keeping six feet apart, of course) will not only make them feel good, it will make you feel good and remind you that there are others for whom this predicament may be even more stressful.

Support your favorite local businesses. You can buy a gift card to help the business owner now, and many restaurants are offering food pick-up options. Sign up for a paid online yoga or exercise class–most studios and gyms are doing this.

♥ Practice random acts of kindness. Send gifts & cards in the mail. Unexpected treats can be a huge pick-me-up-in times of stress. This is especially valuable to the elderly who are now in isolation in nursing homes. If you are worried about receiving germs through the mail, grab your chlorox wipes or sanitizing spray and clean it off first! Think of those who could benefit from your thoughtfulness and generosity. Then act.

Take advantage of extra time. Canceled activities give us an opportunity to focus on the things we haven’t had time for. Marie Kondo your house! If you are working from home, use that commuting time to start a meditation practice.

♥ Practice gratitude. Close your day, every day, with a positive acknowledgement of something you accomplished, learned or are grateful for. It will help dilute some of the negativity you’ve absorbed and remind you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.

♥ Remember to breathe. Put gratitude front and center. Put care into everything you do. Excess fear, stress, and worry cause harm to your system. Stay home if you can and support those in your community that can’t stay home because of their job doesn’t allow it. Stay in touch with your loved ones, stay as relaxed as possible, stay in joy whenever and for however long you can.

In closing, believe in the hope of this…