Posted by Phoenix West Rotary Club "West Side Story"
There's fear and uncertainty around the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation that is affecting people worldwide. So the question that we all face is: How can we be as calm and happy as we can be, under these circumstances? In addition to crucial health measures such as washing our hands and practicing social distancing, we can take the following 11 steps and in so doing, help ourselves weather the crisis more effectively and also strengthen ourselves to be more helpful to others and to our community.
1. Take care of your body. This is important for health and also for mood. Get enough sleep, wake up at a normal hour, eat healthy food, don’t drink too much, stick to a regular routine of personal hygiene and dress, and in particular…
2. Keep moving. This may be tough if your normal exercise routine is disrupted, but figure out how to keep active. Even in a small space you can do yoga, watch YouTube videos for cardio workouts, use exercise apps, etc. Drag out those dusty hand weights and remember to stand up and walk around frequently. 
3. Beware of information overload. We all want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Learn what you need, but don’t get sucked into the three-hour scroll. Schedule time to check current events—perhaps twice a day—so the news doesn’t overtake you. 
4.Prepare. When a crisis hits, people don’t always prepare in the most rational ways, but they want to and will do something. So get informed by a sound source like CDC about how to prepare wisely and then do it. Action is the antidote for anxiety! 
5. Tidy up. Such a petty gesture in the face of an overwhelming challenge— but over and over, people say that outer order gives a sense of inner calm and focus. Cleaning up your space might help you feel calmer. It’s concrete action that will lead to a visual improvement—that can be helpful. 
6. Help others. One of my aphorisms is: One of the best ways to make our-selves happier is to make other people happier, or safer, or calmer, or better prepared. Look for ways to help others, to make sure they’re prepared, that they know you’re looking out for them. 
7. Connect with friends and family, and reach out to people who might feel isolated. This is a time when technology can really come to our aid! Call, text, do video calls, send funny videos of your dog...we all want to feel connected and cared for. Strong social relationships are a key to happiness so find ways to help others, and yourself, avoid feeling trapped and lonely. 
8. Make good use of this opportunity. Being stuck at home is an opportunity that none of us wished for, but it’s an opportunity nevertheless. Look for ways to use the time to get things done you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Go through your closets, clear your clutter. Find a YouTube workout class and get in shape. Do yoga. Cook some new recipes. Get back into meditation. Organize your photos. You might keep a journal of this time. It’s a milestone in the life of the world, and when this is all over (and at some point, it will be,) you may be glad you kept a record. 
9. Catch up on books, podcasts, movies or TV shows. Is there something ambitious you’ve been wanting to tackle? These activities will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep your mind engaged and active and also distract you from anxiety. In the long run, it’s very helpful to give ourselves mental breaks. 
10. Continue or create comforting rituals. You may already have rituals that help you feel grounded. These might be helpful now, or you may have to adapt. Find ways to have pleasant patterns throughout
your day that make you feel grounded and calm. It might be meditation, it might be a cup of your favorite tea, or it might be a bedtime story with your children. 
11. Reach out with love. It means many things, and it applies in this situation. The whole world is reeling under the weight of events. This event, as terrible as it is, can be one that reminds us all that we’re united in our common human hope for good health and peaceful prosperity, not something that drives us apart. Let’s keep our clean hands and to ourselves and our loving hearts open to others. 
The Roman poet Ovid said, “Be patient and tough; one day this pain will be useful to you.” None of us want to experience this lesson, but we can all learn from it, if we will.