Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

These are stressful times. While I was brushing my teeth this morning, I was trying to decide what to write about today. “It doesn’t have to be about coronavirus,” I thought, “but it’s so hard not to write about it.”

They say that the antidote to anxiety is action, so I’m trying to stay as active as possible while under COVID-19 stress. So, here are some things I’m doing to be helpful to my community, bring joy to my¬† friends, and chill out myself.

Being helpful to my community

Some do-gooders in my neighborhood organized an effort to respond to needs block-by-block. I volunteered to be a block coordinator, which entails checking in on my neighbors, assessing their needs, and determining what needs I and my other neighbors can provide. Richie and I delivered letters on Saturday and the response (via text) has been incredible. I’m confident that should a neighbor need something, we’ll be able to help them out.

I designed a limited edition t-shirt for my run club. Proceeds go to the DPS Foundation, which is coordinating directly with Durham Public School District and youth-serving nonprofits to meet critical needs such as meals and remote learning resources.

Local businesses are getting really innovative right now, and I’m doing as much as I can to support them, even if it’s just spreading the word. For example:

  • Local breweries have been teaming up to do drive-through pallet sales. You order and pay using an app, pop your trunk, and they put the beer right in. I shared an Instagram story while I was sitting in line.
  • I had a few work-related Zoom calls one day last week, so I put some effort into getting dressed. I wore clothing and accessories from local stores and tagged them and my hair salon in a picture I posted (looking fly, obviously).

Bringing joy to my friends

I’m flexing my creative muscles to come up with ways to engage with my friends from afar.

For my run club (aside from the shirt), I host a virtual happy hour every Tuesday. I also facilitated a 1-mile personal record challenge where members were encouraged to try and beat their best 1-mile time. The person who shaved the most time off their record got a six-pack of (local) beer delivered to their doorstep! And for April, I wrote clues for various Durham landmarks that I’ll post each week and encourage Beer Runners to solve and then run by.

I have Friday afternoon check-ins with a friend where we share progress on our work-related to-dos. To make it more fun, we wear funny hats.

Chill out

With evenings and weekends completely free from in-person social obligations, I’ve been able to devote more time to the things I love that I’m usually only able to do for a sliver of the weekend, like:

  • Going for long runs or walks
  • Reading – I finally read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and am currently reading Cockeyed by Ryan Knightley. I’m excited to make a larger dent in my “to read” pile.
  • Gardening
  • Hammocking (it’s a verb to me)
  • Watching TV – Tore through McMillion$ (HBO), Tiger King (Netflix), am finally on the current season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), and am putting off the finale of Four Weddings and a Funeral (Hulu) because I don’t want it to end.
  • Playing virtual trivia, hosted by a friend (it’s hard!)

It hasn’t even been a month (of…a couple? several?) and I’m proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish–and excited by what I have yet to accomplish–despite anxiety, grief, and fear. How are you coping? What’s on your list of action items?

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