March 13, 2020

Doing My Part to Flatten the Curve

By Vega Subramaniam

Pelicans on a logTo add to the growing list of places that are closed, I just now got a notice from our apartment building that the fitness center is closed for two weeks (to be clear: I don’t actually use the fitness center; it’s just yet another place that’s closed). As a capital-E extrovert, I do not approve. I do not approve, and I am bored. I am here to tell you how garbage this is, this “social distance,” this “self-quarantine” (not to be confused with isolation), this “abundance of caution.”

Scary times. Uncertain times. Panicky times.

I’ve got two surefire ways to cope with scary, uncertain, panicky times.

One is to hit the virtual library and learn what I can.

The other way I cope with panicky times is to remind myself of what I know to be true about the human condition and about us as social beings. Here’s what’s true: we’re better together. Our resilience matters. And self-compassion boosts our resilience.

We’re better together. I for one am congenitally disinclined to panic, generally speaking, in any case. Partly, that’s because I’m inclined to look for the helpers. That is to say, I know—I know—that there will be people who can be counted on to find ways to pull together in any way we can.

Our resilience matters. Panic is a thing. Anxiety is a thing. It’s not a coincidence that I’m spending some 40, or maybe 96, I don’t know, somewhere between 40 and 96, percent of my waking hours right now refreshing the Washington Post website. Not even reading the articles. Just refreshing the site. And yet, I know that I have the skills I need to manage my anxiety.

Self-compassion boosts our resilience. Let me not let this opportunity pass by without a reminder of the necessity for self-compassion in all things.

  • In Self-Compassion and COVID-19, Chris Germer and Kristin Neff remind us that “Self-compassion boosts the immune system, it reduces anxiety, and it’s the easiest way to keep our hearts open to others.”

As for me, I’m relying on my daily practices of breathing, reflection, and ritual, to support me through this. I’m keeping myself as healthy as I can so I can be as available as possible to the octogenarians in my life (along with everyone else, of course, let’s not neglect the under-80s). I’m tracking where I can donate and what else I can be doing (or not doing, as the case may be). I’m learning how to maintain thriving relationships through virtual means. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up my neglected crochet project again or *gasp* read a novel.

And you? How are you coping? What are your resources?

If you’re reading this, you’re someone I deeply admire and value as a community member. Please stay safe, know you’re loved, and remember to get enough sleep.


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