Our current public health situation has changed our lives in many ways.  These days, we are worried about whether we or our loved ones will get the coronavirus.  When we go to the grocery store, basic items, like toilet paper and Kleenex, are unavailable.

If we have children, they are now at home doing “distance learning.”  Many adults have started working from home.  Normal activities like going out to dinner, to the movies or to church on a Sunday morning are no longer options.

It is easy to get discouraged with the amount of unexpected change that has occurred in the last two weeks.  But my hope is that with the right approach, we someday will look back on this quarantine experience as something that was life-changing in a good way.  When approached in the right way, we can use this experience as an opportunity to adopt better habits and to develop kinder attitudes toward one another.

Below are some ways that you can use this experience to change yourself and your life for the better.

Find Ways to Be Good to Others:  Unless you are in the medical profession or work at a grocery store, in all likelihood, you currently are working from home.  Or you may be temporarily laid off.  As a result, you have some extra time on your hands.  Instead of using that extra time to binge on Netflix videos, think of ways that you can help others.

You might call friends or family members to let them know that you are thinking about them.  You could send a card or email to encourage someone.  Or, if you have some extra cash, you might send someone a thoughtful present.  For instance, my mother is cooped up in her apartment these days, so I shipped a couple of puzzles to her (jigsaw puzzles are her favorite pastime).

Now that we are at home with time on our hands, this is a good opportunity to take a break from our normal navel-gazing and think of ways that we can bring joy to others.

Develop New Exercise Habits:  This quarantine period presents a great opportunity to start a new exercise routine.  Even when housebound, there are many ways to exercise.  For example, the Internet has some terrific exercise videos, many of which are available on YouTube for free.

Or you simply can go outside for a walk.  For instance, I live in a development which has beautiful, tree-lined walking paths.  Usually, there are only a couple of people who take advantage of them.  However, since most of us now are at home during the day, the paths are being used by folks to walk their dogs, couples out for a stroll, and parents trying to keep their kids entertained.  Like my neighbors, I too am getting out there with my dog for walks each day.  We all are keeping a respectful 6-foot distance from one another, which allows us to get some fresh air safely in the midst of these quarantine conditions.

Now is a great time to set up an exercise schedule each day and stick to it.  It is easy to put on extra pounds at this time due to being housebound.  By staying fit and limber, you’ll be much happier while stuck in the house.  And at the end of this public health crisis, you’ll have a new exercise habit that you can keep for years to come.

Embrace Your Inner Julia Child:  With extra time on our hands and dining out no longer possible, it is a great time to cook up a storm.  Not only will you and your family be healthier by eating home cooked food, but your life will feel more civilized.

Fortunately, the grocery stores still have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  And if you get to the store at the right time of day, you can find most of the ingredients that you need for any dish.  Scour your cookbooks for dishes that you’d like to try.  For instance, this past weekend, I made an Irish Soda Bread for the first time which wasn’t half bad!

Given our current health situation, it is more important than ever to eat healthy, nutritious foods.  There is no better way to do that than to cook your own meals.  So, embrace your inner Julia Child and get cooking!

Look for Beauty in the World:  Like everyone, I am glued to the news these days.  But for our mental health, we need to take breaks from it.  In the midst of this health crisis, there is beauty to enjoy.

So, take time away from the news to read inspiring books.  Listen to beautiful music.  For example, a dear friend of mine sent me a link to the following YouTube video, a rendition of Bach’s “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”  I encourage you to watch this video.  Enjoy and soak up the beauty of this glorious piece of music.

And even though for the time being, we can’t commune together, we can commune with nature.  Take walks and look at springtime with fresh eyes.  My tulips are starting to come out of the ground, and I enjoy watching their progress.  This is a small thing.  But when the world is chaotic, it helps to take pleasure in those things that we’d normally overlook.

Realize the Importance of Your Contribution:  It is no small thing to make the decision to stay home and not congregate with friends and family.  By doing so, you not only lessen your risk of catching the coronavirus, but you also lessen your chance of spreading it.  And that literally saves lives.

Remember that there are people in our society for whom the coronavirus isn’t a simple virus.  It isn’t a cold that they can just get over in a couple of days.  If people have pre-existing medical conditions, this virus can result in their being hospitalized or even dying from it.  By staying home, you do your small part to stem the tide of this outbreak and protect those who are most vulnerable in our society.

Of course, I recognize that staying at home is a sacrifice.  It is fun to go out to dinner and the movies.  It is enjoyable to hang out with friends.  And for many of us, our weekly religious services are an important part of our week.

But the difference between being an average person and being a good person is whether you are willing to sacrifice for others.  Are you willing to sacrifice for someone who you don’t know?  Are you willing to be inconvenienced (and that is what this is – an inconvenience) so that an elderly person or a child with asthma who you’ve never met can stay healthy?  Your choice defines the type of person who you are.  So, know that your decision to stay home matters.

I encourage you to make this quarantine experience as positive and meaningful as possible.  Develop new, better habits.  Help others.  And above all, know that your decision to stay home to protect others truly matters.

Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

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