• Finn V. Gratton

Taking Care in a Pandemic


Gumby and their friend (I should name them) are having a rough time with the coronavirus. All their activities are cancelled. Things keep changing. They're worried about people. They want a hug, but can't get one. Their therapists went home and did all their sessions online and on the phone. They miss them. This pandemic affects people in different ways. Some suggestions for taking care of ourselves are useless and others may be more useful.

I do touchwork in much of my psychotherapy. I found that after much training, I began to be able to find that feeling of touching even when not in physical touch —that it was palpable in the space between people. Now I work to find that touchpoint through my computer and phone screens, through the spaces between spoken words. Many of my neurodivergent clients are already good at this. All this time they've been made wrong for connecting online and now it's what we have to do if we want to truly take care of everyone. So, here are some ideas. May you feel held and cared for, heard and appreciated. May your love be received.

Tip #1: Routines. We set up routines, because not having routines makes us nervous. We have to make too many decisions. We forget things. But our routines are terribly thrown off. And we can't make new ones easily because things keep changing. Make them anyway, and keep the ones you can. If you regularly exercise or dance, download a dance or exercise program, or set up a walking or bike-riding goal. Put on the music and have a dance party in your living room. Share a playlist with friends and have a shared virtual dance party or workout. Set up routines with the people you live with if you are not alone. And if you are alone, set up routines with the close people who you are missing, and may also be alone.

Tip #2: Sit and breathe. Everybody tells you this. Might as well give it a try unless it's failed repeatedly. Meditation, breathing. My friend, Jamie McHugh continues to online live-stream 1-hour breath-based somatic practices. (too many hyphenated adjectives in that sentence) You can pick a day and make a donation if you can. Other options are to download an app like Insight Timer or visit Tara Brach's guided meditation site to select a meditation or talks that works for you.

Tip #3: Make art. Sing, write, draw, collage, learn a new song. You can use this to express emotions you are having or to help you shift focus and get absorbed in something you love. Which leads to step #4

Tip #4: Share your creations with others. Take pictures of your art, record your songs, post your writing —to a friend or to your followers. There are many opportunities for sharing, including StayHomeWriMo writing support, sing along with choirs (they can't hear you), dance parties. Creatives are creative!

Tip #5: Let yourself do the things you love to do. There are probably a lot of things you have to do: work, attend to kids who can't go to school or see friends. But still do things you love. Watch reruns of the greatest basketball games of all time. Read. Game.

Tip #6: Keep up appearances for your own sake. Get dressed up snazzy to game or watch and online movie. Make your bed if that helps you. Do the opposite if that is better.

Tip #7: Help others. Check in on your friends and family, especially the ones who are sick or struggling. Send pictures. Send bad jokes. Send good jokes. Order them a delivery of something they'll like. Send your friends with the two young kids at home for weeks some new games and books. Send your nurse friends food delivery.

Tip #8: Try to take care of the people who are losing more money than you in this. Think about the places you aren't eating, the services you aren't using. Buy a gift certificate. Make a donation.

Tip #9: Find alternative ways to touch. If you are missing touch, hug a tree, plant something. Put on music and let it touch you. Touch yourself tenderly. Share flying hugs with someone. (Like Gumby's friend!) Do sign language I love you.

Tip #10: Be a good safety scout. Do all the things to keep you and others safe.

Tip #11: Seek inspiration: I've been appreciating the How to Survive the End of the World podcast and Irresistible podcast. And wise writers and friends.

Tip #11: REST. Our insides are doing a lot.

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© 2019 by Finn V. Gratton.

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