I’ve been battling emotional overwhelm, paranoia and unease for the last few weeks as COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed every other country in the world. I want to feel safe. I want to feel sound. I want to feel all right, right now. I want my kids to be safe and sound. I want my mother to be safe and sound. I want my boyfriend and his family to be safe and sound. I want my brothers and their families to be safe and sound. I want all my co-workers and their families to be safe and sound. I want my friends to be safe and sound. I want all the small businesses in the country to be safe and sound. I want all the unemployed restaurant workers to be safe and sound. Tall order.
I am very grateful that I work in the insurance industry, which at this moment, is considered safe and essential. I know so many people who are now suddenly unemployed. My daughter in Seattle was recently laid off from a startup and my son in Miami was recently laid off from a restaurant. My mother is quarantined in her room at a senior living center in Washington State. This impacts everyone unilaterally. I can get spun up on all the ways this will impact us in one month, one year, one decade from now. Stop. Breath. Pause. There are ways to come back to yourself and feel safe and secure. To come back to this present moment and know that you are all right, right now.
Here are the five steps to feeling safe and sound:
- Be sure
As I write this, it’s high pollen season in Eastern North Carolina. Every time I would sneeze, cough or sniff, I started thinking maybe I was getting sick with COVID-19. A friend of mine had sent me an article about symptoms of COVID-19 and they suggested taking your temperature twice a day. If there is anything that I have adopted in the last week that has brought peace of mind, it’s taking my temperature twice a day. I usually take it once in the morning and once at night. Today it’s 80 degrees here. I was feeling warm. Prior to COVID-19, I could care less. Now? I take my temperature. 98.2. Fine. I just read an article from Peter Diamandis about a new ring for medical professionals to wear that is called the Oura Ring. What does it do? It monitors your temperature and other vital signs around the clock. I feel so much more relaxed because I’m not wondering if I have a low-grade fever. I am sure that as of right now, I don’t. My suggestion? Get out your thermometer and take your temperature. Be sure.
- Know your oxygen level
I was talking to my brother, a retired nurse, and telling him about my temperature twice a day. He said, “Get a Pulse Oximeter.” I asked him why. He said, “It will tell you if you are getting enough oxygen and they are inexpensive.” Sure enough, Amazon had one for $30 and it was delivered in two days. I have a history of allergy related asthma, so knowing if I am actually short of breath or coughing or coming down with COVID-19 is critical information. I don’t need to bother a Teladoc, go to urgent care or stress out that I’m on the verge of pneumonia. It’s comforting to know that I don’t need to venture out and expose other people or be exposed to others to figure out if my health is fine. It’s pretty inexpensive and gives your oxygen level really quickly. Know your oxygen level.
- Limit your exposure
I have started mapping out my week. If I went to the store three times a week, now I go once. If I can meet by phone or video, I do. If I can hand off something at a distance, I do. If I need to go to my regular office, I make sure it’s a combined trip where I do multiple tasks all at once. I go to the grocery store early in the day to minimize the amount of people I am exposed to. I have delayed everything like appointments and services (not that I had a choice) for several months. I saw something on social media that asked, if you came up positive for COVID-19, could you retrace your steps over the last 15 days? I can. Limit your exposure. It’s good for everyone.
- Present moment
Being present can be difficult as we all face so much uncertainty. Thinking and ruminating can be paralyzing. I can start worrying about my daughter’s rent, my son’s cancelled weightlifting competition or if my friend’s business will fail. Whether I worry about it or not, it will not change the outcome and it can physically weigh me down and paralyze me. I think of a book I read by Shirzad Chamine called Positive Intelligence, in which he talks about getting back to the present moment by rubbing your index finger and thumb together with so much attention that you can feel the ridges of your finger print. Go ahead and try it. Amazing, right? You cannot be stuck in your head when you are rubbing your index finger and thumb with so much attention. Getting back to present moment helps me be reassured that I am safe and sound right now.
- All right right now
Rick Hanson in his book, Just One Thing, asks the question: “Are you all right, right now?” Chances are, you are. I know I am. It’s a beautiful day and my dog is next to me on the coach. Outside of a few aches and pains, I am all right, right now. There is a roof over everyone’s head that I care about and everyone’s health is, on the whole, just fine. I was able to go kayaking this weekend on the Bogue Sound with my boyfriend Roy, and I stopped several times during the one-hour paddle just to take in the air, the birds and the water. To feel the tide. To feel the wind. To smell the sea air. To take it all in for two beats longer. You are safe and sound right now.
Roy says that I am a planner. I want to have every trip planned out for the year with my calendar up-to-date, my plane tickets purchased, and hotel reservations made. There is none of that right now. My future is open. It makes me uncomfortable to know that there is nothing planned for the rest of the year until this pandemic plays itself out. I don’t know where I will be in a year and that’s OK. I’m feeling safe and sound right here, right now and that’s fine with me. Are you safe and sound?