It feels surreal, what we are experiencing in the US with the Coronavirus. It’s scary and unlike anything most of us have ever gone through in our entire lives.

I remember when 9/11 happened, it was devastating, but also beautiful to witness how Americans banded together in solidarity. There was so much patriotism, love, and support between people.

The Coronavirus feels different. Instead of being able to physically reach toward each other in love after a tragic event with an identifiable enemy; we are instead required to distance as much as possible from each other because who knows which one of us is carrying the invisible and potentially deadly enemy. And instead of rallying together after a single event that occurred within 24 hours, we are settling into an unknown timeline where we don’t know when the wave of fear will end and what the damage and resulting pain will look like.

I’ve been afraid that during this pandemic, we would see the uglier side of humanity. The side of distrust and greed. There has been some greed and I may feel frustrated when I need to buy more toilet paper in the near future. But I also feel hopeful about humanity and am warmed by stories that give testament to people’s efforts to connect, love, and support one another in these difficult times.

Perhaps the stories that have most warmed my heart, thus far, are the viral videos coming out of Italy showing neighbors singing to one another from their balconies within the confines of their quarantined homes.

How do we turn toward love instead of fear? How do we stay connected in this disconnected time?

  1. Whenever you pass a stranger, greet them with a smile and a wave. Or say “hello” (from at least six feet away). While we may spend most of our time within the confines of our own homes, when we are out and about running (essential) errands, or going for walks around the neighborhood, in parks, or in nature, we are sure to pass by our fellow human beings. Remember, we are all feeling uneasy, some degree of fear, and loneliness. Let’s reach out and allow our smiles to connect us to each other and reassure each other that we see each other and are in this together.
  2. Collects moments worth of memories. Now is not the time for momentous memories, as obviously big vacations have been cancelled, and cool events you might have been looking forward to are postponed. This time of social distancing is an invitation to slow down and become more present in the moment. If you are “isolating” with other family members, look for ways to be grateful for moments spent together. Bake together. Play games together. Play on-line games with family members who live far away; like Words with Friends or Ticket to Ride, among many many Watch a TV series together. Do crafts together. Make a family movie with a script and costumes and everything. Look toward Pinterest for “rainy day activities” that can keep you and your family entertained. At the end of the day, reflect on the moments that mattered to you. Maybe journal about them as a way to remember and increase your gratitude for the simple, daily connections you are experiencing right now.
  3. Reach out and explore communities available to all of us, online. There has been so much talk the last year about limiting our time on social media because of the toxic and distancing effects it can have. This is a unique experience where social media will literally save the day! Social media is flooded with places and opportunities to connect; more now than ever. This is a space, ready-made, for us to reach out to each other. This doesn’t have to just be Facebook, although that is certainly an easy and accessible platform. There are so many other ways we can do this. This NY Times article gives some great suggestions for how we can use a variety of platforms to connect with each other in important and creative ways. Article Link
  4. In this vein, maybe now is a good time to join a community you’ve been wanting to join. There is every type of community on-line; from every type and flavor of religious communities to knitting and book clubs.
  5. Reach out to people in your life that matter to you. One of my favorite social media platforms is MarcoPolo. This allows me to group chat with my family, college roommates, and book club. I can also send and receive chats from individual friends. Check in on your loved ones regularly, and I encourage you to talk about subjects beyond the Coronavirus. My college roommates and I are going to start listening to podcasts and then talk about them through MarcoPolo as a way to connect and cope (distract) with the ambiance around us. There are lots of ways to talk to family and friends. There are platforms like WhatsApp, Skype, and oh yeah…the telephone!
  6. Limit time spent going down the rabbit hole of information about the Coronavirus. Of course, we all want and need to stay up to date on the details of the situation and new guidelines as they come out. Check the news; learn what you need or want to know; and then transition away from it and proactively engage back into your relationships.
  7. Remember, it’s healthy and okay to laugh during this time. Sometimes we may feel guilty about laughing when it literally seems like the world is ending. But laughter is part of what makes us human. It is part of our resiliency. It’s part of our natural inclination to look toward the brighter and lighter side of life. It doesn’t minimize the struggle we are all facing. Instead, it uniquely helps us connect with one another and cope more effectively as we move through this uncertain time. I, for one, greatly appreciate the funny and witty videos and memes that are flooding my preferred social media outlets. I want to make sure to clarify that we shouldn’t let laughter lead to cynicism that could transition us into taking the situation less seriously and act less carefully in our daily lives to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe. We need to be mindful to use humor as a coping and connective strategy; which is what it is meant for.
  8. Feel free to start a sing-along in your neighborhood! I’m sure everyone knows the words to Frozen’s “Let it go!” Ok, partly said tongue in cheek, but really, we can take some lessons from our Italian brothers and sisters about being creative and loud as we reach toward each other vocally, when we can’t physically. I’d love to see some viral US videos pop up about how we are connecting with each other in a beautiful and safe way! This will help build our hope and solidarity with our fellow US brothers and sisters.

There are lots of other ways I know we can all reach one another and connect during this time. I’d love to hear more of your ideas and experiences as we journey through this difficult time, together. And remember, WE got this!