Alone Together

We’re all aware a crisis has come over the world, a global pandemic called Coronavirus or Covid 19. It affects each and everyone of us. The hashtag #alonetogether is making its way to the forefront. There are many of us home alone but we have something in common. We’re all staying home in hopes to “flatten the curve”. It means this virus cannot be spread if we don’t go out or have contact with others. It is surely a trying time for everyone.

Currently in Illinois, as in many other states we are on a mandatory Stay-in-Place order. That means only people with essential jobs are supposed to going out. Essential jobs like doctors, nurses, fire and police as well as truck drivers and grocery store workers just to name of few. Personally, I’m thankful for all those workers. Everyone else is expected to stay home. Some folks can work from home on the computer however many have lost their jobs due to restaurant and shop closings. This is an America I’ve never seen before and it’s terrifying. The numbers of Covid 19 cases grow exponentially every day with the death toll rising slowly. Being that I’m immune compromised due to lupus, this has shaken me to the core. Watching and waiting, wondering when will it strike next. I can’t control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can control how I deal with it.

Coping during this difficult time is as essential as breathing. I’m learning to adjust to this new lifestyle by remaining calm in the midst of chaos. I will do what I can to protect myself and those I love and let go of the rest. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

I’m no expert but I hope a few of these tips might prove helpful. Here are some things that help me:

  • Start the day in gratitude, thankful for another day. Pray.
  • Keep a routine… bedtime and wake up time. Schedule time for work, chores, movies, reading as well as self-care.
  • Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes. Wash your face, brush your teeth! Consider adding some special self care like relaxing bath or a facial.
  • Nutrition is still important. Stay hydrated and eat well.   Don’t stress eat. Drink plenty of water. Eat nutritious foods. Learn how to cook something new!
  • Get some fresh air. Go outside at least once a day. Nature can do wonders to lift your spirits.
  • Get moving. Find some time to move around every day. Daily for at least thirty minutes.  There are many options from yoga to YouTube videos to walking up and down your stairs to get some exercise. Turn on your favorite music and feel the rhythm!
  • Stay connected. Reach out to others at least once a day. There are many communication options: FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting, Messenger and Zoom. Connecting with others provides support.
  • Self-care strategize. Self care looks different for everyone. It can be as simple as aromatherapy or special time with your pet. Sometimes a soft blanket and a hot chocolate. Looking at vacation photos reminds me of better days. Playing music and a little lavender or eucalyptus oil can improve your mood. A journal even just a few sentences a day help to relieve stress. Perhaps an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book will help as a distraction.
  • Limit Covid 19 information. It’s easy to become obsessed. Obviously we need to stay up to date on the latest information. However, 24/7 coronavirus conversation will be depressing. especially around children.  There is tons of information to consume, and it changes minute to minute. Find a  trusted source or two that you can follow consistently but to a few times a day. and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (like 30 minutes 2-3 times daily).
  • Find the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative information out there. But, there are a million stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in wonderful ways. People helping people! There are people donating food to healthcare facilities. There are neighbors delivering groceries to the elderly. There are family members visiting grandma thru the glass door or a window. I have always loved the Mr Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
  • Be a Helper. Find ways to help others, big and small ways to give back.  Support restaurants, buy gift cards, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, tip delivery personnel well and say thank you to all those workers when your getting groceries.
  • Control your little corner of the world. Find something you can control like organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together a gift basket for a friend and leave it in their doorstep.
  • Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn a new language, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Monopoly, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an entire season of a new show, or find something that will keep you busy or distracted from what is going on in the outside world.
  • Find something creative to pass the time.  Coloring, sculpting, drawing, dancing, music (singing, and playing) are just a few examples.
  • Find the humor. Something funny each day lightens the mood. Whether it’s puppy or cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Comedy Central or a funny movie, we all need a little comedic relief in our day to day lives.
  • Take each day one at a time. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Mark your calendar with an X to show you’ve gotten through another day.
  • Have hope for better days ahead. Look for the good in each day. We have learned the Earth is beginning to heal itself. Ozone emissions are down. Wildlife is flourishing. Good things, big and small, are a result of this crisis. Perhaps some of these changes can become permanent is we’re all a little more thoughtful and diligent in conservation efforts. Think about what needs to change in ourselves, our homes, and our world? Life may not go back to normal but I hope it will be better and more thoughtful than before.
  • Find inspiration. Italy for example. Solidarity in spite of the adversity. They display their flags from houses and balconies. They rally with clapping every evening in unity to show appreciation to the healthcare workers. They’re singing on their apartment balconies to cheer each other up. Their resilient spirits amaze and inspire me to do better.
  • Reach out for help! If you’re doing all of the above and still feel like you’re just not coping there are teams of therapists or psychiatrists, and counselors that can help even if it’s via teleconferencing. There are mental health professionals to help you through this crisis.

We can make a difference. Yes we might be home alone but we are together in solidarity. I’ve put up my America flag on my balcony and front porch. On Friday nights, there have been sing-a-longs from porches and windows. The lights on the high rise buildings in Chicago are red, white and blue. Let’s spread some good old fashioned American spirit. Set aside those political views and come together as a country. Fly our flags and unite in solidarity. We can practice social distancing and kindness at the same time. We are alone yet we are all connected. We will return to feeing safe and social in the days ahead.

Stay safe. Stay home. Flatten the curve. #alonetogether

Michele Palermo

Michele is a retired registered nurse who spent 15 years in Emergency Medicine. That's where she learned there's a fragility to life. Diagnosed with lupus, after going through a divorce, taught her to be a survivor instead of a victim. With her career shortened by illness she turned to books. She fell in love with the written word as a young child. To her, words convey emotion. Her new passion is writing. As an aspiring author, she hopes to inspire others on this roller coaster called life.

Leave a Reply