Welcome to a brave new world. COVID-19 is here, the world is scrambling, and you’re locked in your house either drowning in the weight of your new routine or bored out of your mind. Everyone is suddenly obsessed with scrubbing their hands until they shine like the top of the Chrysler Building and you just want some normalcy.

With no end in sight, perhaps the answer is finding a way to make the most of the reset, however we can.

Finding Gratitude

Don’t worry, this isn’t another lecture about breathing in all the good in the world and breathing out all your negative feelings about the fact your life has been upended to the point not even Marie Kondo can set is straight again. It’s immensely important to give ourselves a regular dose of perspective. That said, ignoring your pain, discomfort, and fear is a recipe for prolonged distress. It’s not healthy.

Try to find small ways to find the acceptance, order, and clarity and give yourself peace. Lest you be totally turned off by the “woo woo” of establishing gratitude practices, know that reducing negativity can help with everything decreasing the symptoms of depression to improving your blood pressure.

Since we’re all glued to our phones right now anyway, try these gratitude apps:

  • ThinkUp: Get expert affirmations and curate your own for a high-tech gratitude journal you can come back to whenever your mood bottoms out
  • 365 Gratitude: Because new habits are hard to make and easy to break, 365 Gratitude helps you gamify the process with daily challenges you complete to win rewards and prizes
  • Happier: A science-based approach to gratitude for those who are less caftans and Goop and more interested in just avoiding burnout

Volunteer

Feel like a fish out of corporate waters? Still working but feel the need to do more than generate income? Exhausted by everything that’s going and have nothing left in your tank to give others right now but would love to do something once we all emerge from our caves into the sunlight again? All valid, all solved by finding a way to volunteer.

While many nonprofits are closed to help flatten the curve, there are still plenty of opportunities for to explore virtual volunteering. VolunteerMatch has a huge database you can sort by cause areas or narrow down by keyword. Be a mentor, volunteer as a translator, or make and send masks to hospitals and other front-line facilities who need help protecting staff members as well as the public.

Other organizations like Crisis Text Line encourage remote volunteering year-round. CTL trains home-based counselors who then interact with texter in crisis, helping to deescalate the situation, provide 24/7 support, and refer those in need to vetted resources for further assistance. It’s all done without ever leaving your couch, and you have the chance to make an enormous difference.

Charitable Giving

When people hoard, those living paycheck to paycheck like the elderly and those lower on the socio-economic totem pole are hit the hardest. Social isolation and stockpiling won’t last forever, but new and previously existing economic challenges won’t soon fade away. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has a few dollars or other tangibles to spare, think about how you can make those items do the most good:

  • Rather than waiting for the holidays and making a lump-sum donation to a single organization, consider setting up a monthly autodraft to a charity like Save the Children
  • Donate something other than money — for example, Make-A-Wish accepts airline miles and hotel points
  • Instead of dumping all the goodies you called during your quaran-cleaning rampage at popular “thrift stores” which actually resell your donations, take blankets and towels to the local animal shelter, drop off old baby clothes at a women’s shelter, and take your use-but-still-nice work clothes to nonprofit that focuses on job training

Embracing Minimalism

At the time of this writing, we’re still able to Amazon essential items straight to our homes (though two-day delivery may be on its last legs and many items are taking far longer to ship or are sold out altogether), but other companies have pressed pause on orders indefinitely. We can’t eat in a restaurant and getting takeout or delivery requires so many extra steps — sanitizing containers, arranging for contactless drops — it’s almost not even worth it. No going bowling. No going to movies.

We’re making our own fun using Zoom to hold virtual happy hours and blowing the dust off puzzles long hidden in the back of the hall closet. People are leaving encouraging chalk drawings on the sidewalk as a way to connect and inspire. We’ve all learned that we can work from home with no pants on (but really, for the sake of all that is good in this world, please watch where the camera is pointed!) and still deliver incredible results without spending $500 on a fancy suit.

What if, after all this is over, we don’t go back?

Don’t replace all the useless knickknacks and single-use kitchen gadgets you just got rid of.

Don’t blow half your paycheck on drinks in a pricey cocktail lounge where you can’t even hear your friends.

Don’t spending an hour on your morning grooming routine when you survived a month at home with little more than finger-combing and the occasional change of sweatpants.

DO decide if you’re happy changing the way you live. If you are, go for it. This is (fingers crossed) a once-in-a-lifetime event. Let’s hunker down a hand-sew a silver lining.

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