Be Aware of Your Default.

I came home from school today with a list of 10 things I needed/wanted to do, and here I am, five hours later and dizzy from an evening of tracking what feels like a million news cycles, still with that list of 10 things staring me in the face.

There’s so much we don’t know right now, and whenever we don’t know something, the default reactions tend to not be so positive. Fear. Anger. Hate.

The whole principle of default is that it’s easy. It’s comfortable. It’s what we are used to. But I think right now, as hard as it might be, we need to work on switching our default.

To be clear: I am a firm believer in listening to county and state health departments and following their recommendations. Hand washing, self-quarantining when asked, and yes, bigger things like canceling events that we might have been looking forward to. All of those things (except maybe the hand washing) make me a little bit angry. But you see what Yoda says about anger.

So how to switch the default? In addition to the measures we might need to take for safeguarding our physical health, we need to also safeguard our mental health. How does that happen in an uncertain time like this? I have a couple of ideas.

  1. Reach out to people over email, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, whatever. Catch up with someone you’ve been neglecting. Check in on other humans. Do not forget other humans. If you’re able to, look at their faces and hear their voices. Text if you must, but if you can, connect visually.
  2. Create something. Write poems, write songs, write a book, read a book, make music, draw stick figures on the back of an envelope, pick up a Frozen 2 coloring book and splurge on the 64-pack of Crayolas the next time you venture out.
  3. Meditate. Oh my goodness, meditate. MEDITATE. Maybe even try some yoga. I hear Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is really fantastic.
  4. Donate money, if you are able, to organizations in your community that will need resources, since giving your time might not be possible. Fun fact: food banks can do more with your money than they can with your cans and boxes of food.
  5. Laugh with the people you can laugh with. Send memes, gifs, TikToks, watch Parks and Rec (for the 20th time), but for the love of all that is holy, don’t forget to laugh. This is probably hardest because of the fear and uncertainty. Don’t make light of the gravity of the situation, but I’m certain that every day I can find something to make me and my loved ones laugh.
  6. Attack that to-do list that you ignore because “life keeps happening.” Even if it’s something small like wiping down your baseboards (something that I hate doing but I also hate looking at the dust buildup), pick a task or two that will give you a sense of satisfaction.

These feel like such scary, uncertain times. And though he is fictional, I believe Yoda when he says hate leads to suffering. No matter the fear or anger you might feel right now, don’t let it lead to hate and suffering. Inoculate yourself against that, in whatever way works best for you.

Might I suggest a Star Wars marathon?

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