A Survival Guide for our Collective Well-Being or How to Stay Alive When the World is Collapsing in a Pandemic Winter
If you are anything like me your social media feeds have been full of articles talking about surviving the coming winter. It feels daunting for even the most well balanced brain chemistry. A full winter, a full cold and flu season tainted by pandemic, uprising, and unrest. We are likely not to leave the house for long stretches of time. Our kids may or may not be going to school. Whiskey me, Jesus.
But I confess more than a little irritation at some of those articles. My often off-balance seratonin levels have a word for pieces insisting twinkle lights and fuzzy blankets will help us survive. Who knew y’all? All we needed were some sparkly lights and soft blankets to cure 2020. While I appreciate that wasn’t the intention of those articles, it sure was the impact for a lot of us.
And so, never one to complain without trying to do my part, here is my response and a plan for our collective well-being and survival:
- Get a therapist, or reconnect with your therapist. Therapy is becoming more widly available than ever with the proliferation of Telehealth, insurance coverage for such visits, and services like Better Help. Get a standing appt on the books even once a month to care for yourself. It might literally save your life.
- Call your doctor or your med prescriber, and get those dosages checked. A lot of folks I know whose meds have held steady for years have needed some tinkering in this world of COVID-19, and pandemics of racism and loneliness. Maybe you too?
- Figure out your rapid response team. While we can’t be together much face-to-face, it’s a great idea to have a few folks in your corner who are on your rapid response team. These are the people you can send the text that says: my brain is taking me to scary places today, or I think I need some help. They will know how to respond with care, compassion, direct questions, and without panic. They will also be able to help discern when it may be time for some reinforcements. Y’all out there in recovery, your sponsor, and your meeting crew are for sure on this list! Keep coming back.
- Get your vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D can have a huge impact on both health and mood, and MANY of us in the US are not getting enough natural sunlight to manufacture the good stuff we need. If needed, you can supplement yourself. I do!
- Figure out your comfort rituals. For me it’s re-watching my “soul shows” that I know by heart (Friday Night Lights, West Wing, Gilmore Girls). It’s trading photos or videos with my best friend to stay connected. It’s cooking a nourishing and rib sticking meal for my family. Find those things. Build them into your rhythms.
- Stay connected. No one goes it alone, friends. No one. We all need help sometimes. We all need community. It is so tempting sometimes to hibernate, but make sure and stay connected to at least your core support folks.
- Find what brings you joy. To go back to those well-intended articles, maybe some twinkle lights really WILL make you smile! Maybe doing art everyday will boost your mood. Maybe a three minute dance party when you come home at the end of the day will help you give that seratonin a lift. You get the idea. But find things that really light up your heart, and bonus points if they make you laugh. Joy and laughter are essential survival tools. They help us stay hopeful.
- Do one thing everyday for someone else. Helping others is one way we stay connected to things beyond ourselves. Everyday I try to ask myself the question: what good will I do this day? Then, I try to come up with small acts of kindness that often I don’t share. Maybe I drop off needed supplies to our quarantine pod. Maybe I send someone a card in the mail. Maybe it’s a text that says “Hey, I love you.” Maybe I donate to a cause. You get the idea. Now go, and do likewise.
- Find a spiritual practice. One of the things that is CRUCIAL for our health and well-being when the world is on fire is staying grounded and centered in something beyond ourselves. Maybe it’s a breath practice. Maybe it’s coloring. Maybe it’s prayer. Maybe it’s reading a holy text. You get the idea. Connect and ground yourself to something beyond yourself.
- Lastly, practice gratitude. I know this sounds so fluffy. But my friends in the 12-step world have taught me this. Gratitude can literally save your life when it feels like your entire world is crumbling. It can remind you there is something to live for. Practice gratitude in small ways each day. Help a friend do it too.
You will have your own things to add to this list. And yes, I might even re-read this at some point this winter curled up under a fuzzy blanket with some hot cocoa. I need you to surive, Beloved. Thanks for staying in this with us.