What if we refuse to be victims of a virus? Hear me out. What if our COVID-19 Global Pandemic Battle Cry is simply these three A’s: Assess, Adapt and Achieve. What if we strive to keep them at the forefront of our thinking? Let it be our mantra. Make it our self-talk, so we don’t just settle for just making it through? What would our lives become?

Let’s rehearse these three A’s so that we respond to all of this insanity and not just react. It will help us keep our cool and stay in control. We can refuse to let these circumstances victimize us, our marriages, our families, and friendships. Assess, Adapt, Achieve. Let’s Triple-A our way through so we can thrive during the COVID-19 outbreak and all this stuff, because don’t you want to be even better on the other side? 

Assess.

This means that I am constantly trying to feed my brain accurate, honest, up-to-the-minute information about what is going on inside and outside of me. I try to honestly inventory my emotions and psyche. How am I doing—really doing? How is my physical health? And, how am I doing as an employee, neighbor, friend, husband, and father?

How is my family doing? Do I even know? Have our routines set us up for maximum success during this strange new time? Are their needs being met—physical, emotional, and relational? Am I taking proper care of myself so I can properly take care of them?

What about my marriage? Are we just coexisting under the same roof? Are these circumstances driving us toward each other or apart? Will we be able to look back and say, “Look how it strengthened our marriage, but yeah, it was crazy!” or are we just going crazy? Am I open and available emotionally? Am I tuned in to her needs? Would my spouse share my assessment?

And how about my friends and neighbors? The people within my sphere of influence? Am I checking in on them? Do I recognize who is vulnerable right now? It’s not all about me!

Oh, that virus? Almost forgot. Not. My. Job. I check in on it every few days and I let the CDC do their thing. I do get their expert assessment and make sure I’m doing what they recommend. Otherwise, I’m off the news and super-careful on social media. I’m not going to be irresponsible, but my day isn’t gonna revolve around a microbe.

Assess. Gauge. Evaluate. What’s working for me, my marriage, and my family? What isn’t working? Where are the pressure points in my life? How are my kids’ gauges reading? When is the last time I checked? Where do I need to put my focus, attention, and energy? This isn’t the time to be passive or run on assumptions. Too much at stake!

Adapt.

This is the hard part. I don’t know you. I don’t know your family situation. And, I don’t know your work or financial situation. But here’s what I do know. I do know that after an honest, accurate assessment, you will have to make changes. You will have to be flexible and adapt. 

Some long-standing traditions will have to give way to new traditions. You may need to raise or lower some expectations and get real. You may have to think outside the box and get creative. And you may even have to recalibrate some priorities. 

It might be a tiny adjustment like using FaceTime instead of just texting someone. You might find an area that needs a total overhaul. Get to it. Everything is changing, but are you adapting? There is a huge difference. Then go back to assess. Then keep adapting. Stay a step ahead of the enemy.

Achieve. 

So much of this is mental. It’s mindset. Are these hammers beating you down, beating your marriage down, beating your family down or are the hammers beating you into shape? Are these all new obstacles or all new opportunities to help you thrive during the COVID-19 outbreak? 

We are all getting squeezed—maybe like never before—and what is on the inside is going to come out. Are we finding out that we are all wishbone and no backbone? Time to rise to the moment. We can wish things were different or we can work to make them different, work to be different. Use that backbone and lean into these challenges.

This isn’t the “new normal.” Reject that mindset. Because we aren’t settling and we aren’t just surviving. We need to win. We’re not in a holding pattern. We aren’t simply waiting for this to blow over. 

We are working to not waste this situation so we can thrive during the COVID-19 outbreak.★ 

We aren’t hoping. Instead, we are helping. We want nothing less than to be stronger people in stronger marriages with stronger families. Did you get that? We will settle for nothing less than to be stronger people in stronger marriages with stronger families. We don’t want to just make it to the other side, we want to get there better and stronger than we were before all this. Remember the Triple-A’s.

Yeah, things are pretty dark. But midnight is when the day begins.

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We are now weeks into Coronavirus social distancing. That’s just long enough for everybody to get some extra shuteye and accomplish some things around the house. And it’s long enough for everyone to admit they’re 100 percent ready for this to be over.

Even the couples and families who usually get along just fine are reaching their tolerance limit. Because let’s face it: being around each other 24/7 is hard.

A lot of positives can come from having what feels like someone ripping the rug from underneath us. Yet at the same time, we’re going to have to be on our guard for how social distancing has the potential to negatively impact our relationships in at least five ways:

If youre an introvert who married an extrovert.

You, the introvert, are probably livin’ the dream. You may think you just died and went to heaven, being forced to hole up in your house until further notice. Meanwhile, your extroverted spouse feels like they’ve been sentenced to the ultimate punishment—not being around others (which is what energizes them). That face-to-face human interaction is their lifeline. We all know that opposites attract, but this may be a moment when you aren’t feelin’ the love quite so much.   

The amount of time everybody now has on their hands as a result of social distancing could also negatively impact the relationships in your home.

Some children and adults who usually have a packed schedule are suddenly trying to figure out what to do with themselves. This right here will test the best of families when it comes to patience, adaptability and willingness to take it one day at a time.

Expectations of how things will go in the coming weeks is a thing, for real.

If spouses aren’t on the same page about social distancing, finances, family schedules, help with household chores and such, it can create a lot of angst—not only between the two of you, but in your family relationships as a whole. 

No matter how much space you have in your home, so much togetherness can make it feel claustrophobic.

Differences become magnified, too. What seemed like “not a big deal” before manages to get on your last nerve. 

Spending so much time and energy on the relationships in your home that you don’t have time to connect with relationships outside your home.

Unfortunately, this can make you resent the people in your home. 

So how can you counter these potential toxins in your relationships caused by social distancing?

Ask Some Questions

A great place to start might be to ask some questions such as: What does my spouse need? What do I need? What do my family members need? This could actually be a conversation between you and your spouse and/or your children. The goal would be for everybody to understand that each person probably sees this COVID-19 experience from a different perspective. All your introverted family members may be hyped up about being closed off from the rest of the world. They’re probably struggling to understand their extroverted family members who are feeling the significant loss of being physically around others. Seeking to understand each other’s perspective can go a long way toward creating a calm and peaceful home.

Talk About It and Make Some Decisions

When it comes to time, it may be helpful to talk about how frustrating all of this is. Then make some decisions as a couple or family about how you’ll actively plan to deal with it. I know in my home, we constantly talk about how if we had more time we’d do this or that project. My husband actually started painting a room we’ve said we needed to paint for forever. I’ve been going through photos from two decades ago in preparation for our daughter’s wedding that might not go as planned. 

If your children say they’re bored, it might be good to make a list together of things they can do—both fun and the helpful things—like spring cleaning. Some family members might want to start a new hobby like reading, an exercise plan, baking bread or learning how to play new games like checkers or chess. This could be the perfect time to go through those fall/winter clothes. Or purge the garage in hopes of having a yard sale sometime in the future or donating to charity. 

This break is also an opportunity to realize that it’s really ok to be bored and do absolutely nothing sometimes. If schedules are usually so full that you throw rest out the window, don’t feel pressured to fill all the time with activity. Give yourself and others in your home time to do absolutely nothing. (And be willing to overlook things that get on your nerves from time to time.)

Creatively Connect

Now’s a great time to connect with extended family members and friends by phone call, text, video chat or a letter. It’s also a chance to help others out from a distance by helping them place a grocery order or making sure they’ve got what they need during this time. Older people who live alone would probably really appreciate hearing from you. (The extroverts in your home will probably be all-in on making those connections.)

When it comes to expectations, getting creative about things could save the day. Instead of one person doing all the cooking, you can have a cooking competition with what you have on hand. Each family member could be responsible for creating a menu and either preparing or helping to prepare the meal. Divvy up the chores that need to be done. Have a poetry contest. Put “dress-up” or theme days on the family calendar. Try to make things FUN. Focus on the positives. For example, every time you think a negative thought about your situation, think of something positive related to it.

One last thought. Many of us, including our children, have questions. How long this will last? Are we going to have enough money? What happens if one of us gets sick? And the list goes on. I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. I can tell you this: You’re not alone and I’m rooting for you—and for all of us—to come out stronger.

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Conditions are perfect for a Silent Killer to attack our minds, bodies, and most specifically, the emotions within our new culture of social-distancing. That Silent Killer? Loneliness. And if you’re feeling lonely during COVID-19, you’re not alone.

Let’s understand what loneliness is. Social scientists, at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), define loneliness as “the pain one feels as a result of a discrepancy between one’s social needs and one’s ability to satisfy those needs.” 

Edicts such as “social distancing,” “work from home,” and “shelter-in-place,” can all set the stage for increased loneliness during COVID-19. Regular activities such as after-work trips to the bar, small group studies, birthday parties, Saturday/Sunday worship are halted. Our workplaces, schools, and civic communities are all places where we often connect and interact with people. These places, where we connect with people who help us feel as though we belong, have closed their doors. 

It’s important that we do not allow ourselves to feel helpless during this time of forced isolation.

This is one area where technology can truly help. My son and I have been part of a small group that meets every other week. Last night was the first time we did the meeting online because of COVID-19. It was quite uplifting. 

Thankfully, we interacted with people we have deep connections with within a community that we belonged to. We were able to laugh, talk and just be known by people who care about us. We decided to meet every week instead of every other week because we realized how encouraging it was for our psyche. Part of the purpose of forming social communities is to help us push through difficult times.

How do we use technology to help us ward off the attack of loneliness during COVID-19?

Don’t cancel the coffee dates you have with your friends or the post-work drink you have with your co-workers. Continue with your small group meetings and your marriage double dates with your favorite couple. JUST DO IT ONLINE. Schedule a Virtual Date using Google Meet, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Houseparty or any other apps available. 

Phone calls are nice and text messages can be helpful. However, there is nothing that compares to actual face-to-face interaction and what it does for our emotional connectivity. The ability to see the empathy, shared joy, or the heavy anxiety on your friend’s face enhances the connection. And it does so in ways that emojis and tone of voice can’t quite match. 

Fighting loneliness is not about the number of people you interact with.

Shasta Nelson is a healthy relationship expert and author of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends. Nelson doesn’t believe that the answer to loneliness is to go out and make more friends, but to deepen current relationships. Instead, it’s being intentional to create opportunities for meaningful interaction within the communities you belong to. And within those meaningful interactions, we must take advantage of the opportunities to connect at a deeper level, to be vulnerable, to be known.

Think about the people in your social community—whether it is family, friends, civic, faith, etc.

Who do you already have deep connections with? Who do you want to develop deeper connections with? And who are the people that you feel the safest with? Sure, we need to feel loved and supported during difficult times. But we must also remember others that are most vulnerable to loneliness as well. Reaching out to those in need is a way to attack our own loneliness during COVID-19.

Nelson suggests that when someone is feeling a deficiency of love and support, “[they should] consider who in their life they would want to build a more meaningful or closer relationship with and then make a list. Start prioritizing those relationships.” There are times when loneliness is at a place where we need to call and get help from the professionals. Don’t feel like you have to win this by yourself. Many professionals are meeting via phone or video conferencing during this period of social distancing.


As we are being intentional about prioritizing relationships, don’t hesitate to meet online for coffee. Schedule a tea using Google Meet. Create a calendar invite for your book club on Zoom. Use Skype for you and your buddies to work out together. Set up a video chat with an elderly neighbor. Create virtual dates within your social community to lessen and hopefully minimize the discrepancy between your social needs and your ability to meet those needs. And while you’re interacting, connect—really connect. Your emotional wellbeing needs it.

Image from Pexels.com

More blogs on loneliness:

Feeling Lonely in Your Marriage? Here’s What to Do.

5 Ways to Overcome Loneliness in America

How Family Structure Impacts Loneliness

If anyone is gonna catch COVID-19, I will…” This is a thought that I’ve had to do mental battle with in the last couple of weeks as I deal with anxiety about COVID-19. Even though rationally, I know my chances of not catching COVID-19 are really, really good, I still find a sinking feeling creep into me day after day. Even the people who know me have hinted at it, heavily implied it, or come right out and said it. 

I check the CDC website daily. I check to see if there are any more cases in my county and the surrounding counties. (And the surrounding states… and countries.) I catch myself wondering if “they” are reporting the numbers accurately. My paranoia doesn’t feel entirely unwarranted. The concern of my family, friends, and co-workers is justified.

My health has been a bit of a dumpster fire.

Chronic pain and catching everything going around is just a way of life for me. What follows is far from exhaustive. Consider it my body’s “Greatest Hits.” In no particular order…

  • Severe case of mononucleosis in college that went undiagnosed for months, made me miss almost an entire semester and did significant liver damage. 
  • Spent a week in the hospital with pneumonia. (To answer your question—the worst kind.)
  • Contracted a staph infection during knee surgery. Spent two weeks in the hospital being operated on every other day. (Beat sepsis and avoided septic shock! Yay!)
  • Diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder. (Of course!)
  • Spent a week in the Infectious Disease ward of the hospital because of more staph infections. (Nurses in biohazard suits—scary, not cute!)
  • Total of 32 surgeries in the last 25 years on my face, head, both shoulders, elbow, hip, both knees, and I guess you could say, innards. (Not counting numerous other procedures. It only counts if I was completely anesthetized.)
  • Totally forgot! Traumatic Brain Injury from a car accident. (Wasn’t trying to be funny.)

It’s a respectable list, but I’m always mindful that there are people out there dealing with far worse health issues. So you can see why I might get a little anxious about COVID-19, right? You can see why people would put all their money on me if there was some kinda morbid betting pool?

Let’s talk about anxiety a second.

You don’t rack up a “body count” like mine without having all the exhausting mental health problems that inevitably come with a broken body. Been there, doing that. Here’s the kicker—I was voted “Class Clown” my senior year of high school and THAT is a distinction I have always been determined to live up to! Laughter is the best medicine! How do you beat anxiety about COVID-19 and stay fun-lovin’ when you have legitimate health concerns?

  1. I focus on what is right with me and remember there are people dealing with so much worse. There are people that would trade problems with me any day.
  2. I’ve been through some hard things. Miserable things I don’t want to do again. I’m certainly not happy about COVID-19 and our present situation. On good days, I try to lean into hard situations and even try to be thankful for them and be open to the lessons they are trying to teach me and the character they are trying to develop in me. (And I stay thankful for the people around me who love me and help me through all of this stuff.)
  3. I try to be wise. (I try.) There are things I just can’t do, even if I think I can. Frequently, I have to swallow my pride and let other people do things for me. (This is one of the hardest parts. I’d rather help someone than be helped.)
  4. Specifically related to COVID-19, I do what the professionals say to do. Period. Full stop. I’ve been conscientious about eating healthier, staying hydrated, and getting sleep. I practice social-distancing, wash my hands a ton, make sure surfaces in my house are sanitized. We had a family meeting and continue to work together to be smart and stay healthy.
  5. I deliberately stay away from people, conversations, and information that is generally negative or will make me feel anxious. That has involved putting some distance between myself and some people. That has involved controlling the flow of information into my brain from television and social media. 
  6. I’ve been using apps like FaceTime and Google Meet instead of simply making phone calls or texting friends and family. Seeing another face is so important for helping me feel better and to really check on how they are doing. Face-to-face communication helps me connect to “my people” who encourage me. 
  7. I’m a big believer in the real power of positive thinking. I decide how I’m going to think about my body and my life. (That’s why I don’t even like writing stuff like this, honestly.) I try not to live in worry and fear or self-pity. I find strength in what I’ve already overcome and will draw on that strength for the next “thing.” But only if there is a “next thing.” I don’t deal with “what ifs,” I just take it as it comes. (When I feel like I am losing the mental battle, I don’t hesitate to call on “my people” and even call on the mental health pros when necessary.)

I’m not going to say that anxiety or fear about COVID-19 is justified. I will say that concern is justified.

There is a huge difference. I’m concerned about my health and respond to that concern appropriately by doing what medical professionals recommend. That’s it. That’s what I can control. I’m not going to worry about things I can’t control.

Maybe the biggest lesson I’ve learned about anxiety is that actively looking for ways to help and encourage other people, is like, magical. It’s hard to worry about yourself and someone else at the same time. It’s hard to worry about things you have no control over while helping to meet the needs of someone else. Nothing feels better than helping other people. 

This is the perfect time to think about how other people are doing and reach out to them. What if you could relieve someone else’s anxiety while relieving your own?

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Can we be thankful, even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? Just this week, I headed out early one morning to walk. About 20 minutes into my journey, I looked up and WOW! The stars were bright and the sky was clear – something I had not seen in days due to lots of rain. It made me smile.

Let’s be honest. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by all the difficult, weird stuff going on. COVID-19 is for sure wreaking its havoc on our nation and the world. It’s like we are at war. News about our economy, job loss, financial devastation, exhausted healthcare workers, not enough supplies, friends and family members testing positive for the virus – sometimes it feels like more than any of us can bear and we wonder, when will it go away? 

When I looked up though, I was reminded that even in the midst of what truly is a terrible moment in time where we all have experienced loss, it might be super helpful for me to actually consider all the things I can be grateful for. 

It probably sounds crazy, but just seeing the stars and knowing a sunny day was in store lifted my spirits.

Here are a more ways we can be thankful during COVID-19:

  • Being able to see a beautiful sunrise
  • Working with a team of people who are willing to charge forward even in the midst of challenges
  • My health
  • Family that checks in
  • Laughter
  • Being able to get my thoughts out of my head and on paper
  • Friendships
  • Utilizing my skills to help people navigate through this storm
  • A roof over my head and food to eat
  • The opportunity to help those who are on the frontlines of this battle
  • Feeling all the feelings as I watch businesses donate much-needed personal protective equipment, restaurants providing food to those in need, cafeteria workers working long hours to prepare food that school bus drivers will deliver to families on their route, people stepping up to care for the children of healthcare workers so they can go to work, families willing to live apart in order for one of their members to be on the frontlines, amazing artists sharing their talents either through teaching or providing an hour of entertainment.
  • No scheduled activities to keep families from eating meals together
  • The signs of new life outside which give me hope for the future
  • People all over the nation sitting down at sewing machines to make masks
  • It’s not winter so we can at least get outside or at the very least open windows and breathe fresh air
  • The symphony of birds singing
  • Neighborhoods figuring out creative things to do to help parents and children hold it together – bear hunts, crazy family pictures, scavenger hunts, and I Spy to name a few 
  • My dog, who has been my companion on all my walks

After making this list and shedding a few tears, it was very clear to me that even in the midst of these heartbreaking moments, I have a lot I can be thankful for. 

Getting in and staying in a mindset of gratitude is not always easy during the difficult moments in our lives, but shifting our focus to the things we can be grateful for is good for our mental health and good for the soul.

What do you have to be thankful for today, even during COVID-19?

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For more resources, see our COVID-19 support page here.

Feel like you’re on the verge of going crazy? Have you eaten all your COVID-19 snacks? Do you stare out the window longingly looking at the cars driving by? If so, you might be working from home by yourself!

A little backstory here… My husband and I have only been married one year, but I’ve already gotten used to having him around, like, all the time. Last week, however, he had to go into work while I worked from home. And let me tell you… It was rough. I had SUCH a hard time finding the motivation to get things done and stay focused.

If you’re like me and are working from home all by your lonesome (whether you’re married, have roommates, or live by yourself), here are some tips you can use to keep from going absolutely nuts!

Where You’re Working Matters.

Whatever you do, DO NOT work from your bed or your couch, no matter how tempting it is! If you have a desk, use it. If not, work from your kitchen table! Sitting up in a chair and using a tabletop will help you stay focused and prevent you from sneaking that Netflix tab open. (PRO TIP: Try to find a spot that has natural light and isn’t in your main living area. This will keep your body’s natural rhythms in check while also keeping the temptation of the laundry, dishes, or other distractions at bay.)

Stick to your norm.

Obviously, this can’t be done in every way. But, with what you can control, do your best to stick with what you normally would! Do you shower every morning? Do that before you start working! Pack your lunch the night before? Make that a priority (and see more on that in the next tip!). Go on a walk during your lunch break? Keep that up, even if the location has changed!

Give Your Body Nutrition (But Don’t Overload).

Okay, I have to be honest here. Last week, it was a struggle when it came to snacking and meals. Since I had easy access to the yogurt, chips & dip, and cinnamon rolls my husband made, it was nearly impossible for me not to snack on it all constantly. Every time my mind wandered, it landed on snacks. And by the end of day three, I was feeling the consequences of it. By the end of the week, I learned some tricks:

  • Pack your lunch the night before. I usually pack my lunch every day for work, so why not do it when working from home? This way, it’s easier to limit my snacking only to what’s in the bag for the day.
  • Stick to your normal routine. If you usually have breakfast at 7, a snack at 10, lunch at 1, and a snack at 3, (or is it just me?) stick to that! Your body will react if you change schedules, so sticking to your norm will help your mind stay focused.
  • Give yourself smaller portions more often. This is something I live by most of the time, but it is especially helpful when working from home! When you’re able to have more (but smaller) snacks throughout the day, it easily provides variety to your day.

Get. Moving… A lot.

Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or not, your body needs to get some movement in! I won’t lie, I did not follow this tip at all in the first couple of days. (Was anyone else in a total daze the first few days of last week??) But the more I prioritized getting moving, the more I realized its impact! The key here is finding what works best for you.  Are you a morning person? Look up some at home no-equipment workouts to do before the sun’s up! Hate working out in general? Go for walks around your neighborhood!  Some people work best on a timer (30 minutes of work = 5-minute break/movement session), but I just can’t get into it. I don’t like leaving anything unfinished, so instead I work by task. Once I’ve crossed something off, I do one round of a quick HIIT workout by my favorite trainers. Find what works best for you and stick with it! 

Make a schedule.

The above two tips play into this, but creating a schedule for yourself is the biggest key to staying motivated. Motivation comes from completing tasks, so the more things you cross off your list, the more motivated you’ll be to finish it! And when you create a step-by-step outline of your day, you can build in those 5-minute workouts or 10-minute breaks. Not only will this help you stay focused and motivated, but it is actually proven that you’ll get more done!

Get human interaction where you can.

While I am lucky enough to have another person who lives in my house (thank you, husband), I know that not everyone reading this is married or has roommates. If you live by yourself, this tip might be more difficult to put into practice, but it’s not impossible! Rally up a few friends to have a daily lunch video call together. Talk about your days. Take turns asking silly questions. Enjoy the interactions! If you do live with other people that are still going to work during the day, use your time in the mornings and evenings to stockpile your personal interactions! It’s so important now more than ever to put the phones down, turn the TV off, and just enjoy the friendships around you. Virtually, of course.

Although working from home has its perks, working alone can be really challenging. But don’t give up! There are so many great things you can do to keep your focus. Finding what works best for YOU is the most important one. Have patience in the process. Working through change always takes time, but we’ll all come out stronger in the end if we keep trying. I’ll be wishing you all the greatest music, the best snacks, and the most human interaction possible from my quiet, quiet home!

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We are fighting an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy. Time to up our psychological warfare game. I give you Sun Tzu from the Art of War:


However desperate the situation and circumstances

Don’t despair.

When there is everything to fear

Be unafraid.

When surrounded by dangers

Fear none of them.

When without resources

Depend on resourcefulness.

When surprised

Take the enemy by surprise.

Sun Tzu probably never had to work from home and take care of his kids while quarantined.

We’ve definitely been surprised. Is it possible to take the enemy by surprise and regain some lost ground?

Many of us that are working from home and caring for our children feel trapped in a Catch-22. If we attend to our work, we feel like bad parents. If we attend to our kids, we feel like bad workers. (Perish the thought that we attend to ourselves.) We feel like failures on all fronts.

This expresses itself in guilt and compounds our stress and anxiety, so our bodies continue to release stress hormones like cortisol and we function perpetually in “fight or flight” mode. This compounds our struggles.

Tasks feel like they take so much longer. Easy things feel harder. Hard things feel completely impossible. Our brains really aren’t wired to multitask effectively and we are asking them to multitask while under a great deal of stress. That stress is chemical, it is hormones in our bodies. They take their toll and we give up even more ground. Eventually, you are not even you.

You don’t feel overwhelmed; your brain is overwhelmed. It is like overloading a circuit-breaker. It is going to trip and you’ll shut down. Some of us are already there.

Even our sense of time and our internal body-clock get out of whack. For some of us, the days feel unbearably long. For others, the days seem impossibly fast. The rhythms and routines that defined our days have been upended. Things that gave our lives meaning and significance have been taken from us.

Research indicates that child abuse and domestic violence rates are going up. Divorce lawyers are gearing up. These are our families. Our children. Our spouses. The people we love the most that can become both the catalyst and the object of our anger and stress. Make no mistake, we are in a war. The enemy is NOT our family. The enemy is the mercenary Covid-19 and the disruption it has brought to our lives.

We can wage this war with hand sanitizer, disinfectants, hand washing, and social distancing, but the real frontline is our mind. This is psychological warfare. So what are the rules of engagement?

An expert in psychological warfare says, “When people are stressed, there is a temptation to lose touch with reality and to blur the boundary between reality and fantasy, If you blur that line and start making decisions on false data, that’s going to lead to bad decision making.” 

Your mind is a Prediction Making Machine. Don’t rely on its guesses based on “false data” about the future and create false narratives like:

  • I’m botching my child’s future because I can’t really help them with school.
  • My boss probably thinks I’m a bad worker and is gonna fire me.
  • My spouse and I can’t get along and my marriage isn’t going to survive this. 
  • I’m going to be financially ruined.

You don’t have to believe everything your brain tells you. Tell your brain they’re Covid-19 psych ops, that other outcomes can be more likely. Tell your brain you will take things as they actually happen and not react because they might happen. 

What are your weapons? Directing your attention to the truth. Adjusting expectations. Practicing gratitude. Exercising stillness. (You don’t have to fill 100% of your day with activity.) Breathing. Releasing tension in healthy ways. Sharing love. Practicing grace and forgiveness. Creatively helping others. Putting off important decisions. All these weapons are right between your ears.

Just knowing you are engaged in psychological warfare is a good start. Hold your ground. Fight the good fight for yourself and for the people you love. Take Sun Tzu’s advice and surprise the enemy by using your best weapon- your mind. Don’t let yourself, family or marriage be a casualty. Don’t settle for being a survivor. Focus your mind on being victorious.

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All of us are beginning to realize that life as we have known it has dramatically changed. We’re at war against an invisible enemy that is wreaking havoc on our lives. Playdates for our children, lunch with friends, a steady income, worship, exercise classes, school, sports, graduations and even shopping are either non-existent, canceled, postponed, or look very different at this moment in time. Our lives have been interrupted in a huge way.

Even for the most spontaneous person, our dramatically different way of living has many of us on edge. And we may be wondering how to react during this COVID-19 outbreak.

“During times of trauma and uncertainty, we are stressed, weary and overwhelmed,” says Dr. Gary Oliver, clinical psychologist. “Our typical response is to ‘react’ in the moment, which often makes things worse. This is our emotional brain hijacking our thinking.”

Especially during these times, Oliver says we need to be intentional about “responding” instead of “reacting.” 

“In life there are only three kinds of situations: things I can control, things I can’t control but can influence, which is a larger group, but the degree of influence probably isn’t as great as we think, and things that are totally out of our control,” Oliver says. “We can’t control the COVID-19 outbreak. But we can be sure to wash our hands and distance ourselves from others. If you are a person of faith, you can pray. We can exercise to stay healthy, we can be kind and help others who are more susceptible to catching the virus.”

Oliver believes that focusing we can control and influence will help us thrive as we work get through this crisis. For each decision you face during this time, Oliver recommends you think of the situation as a blinking yellow caution light. We all need to slow down and proceed with caution because we’re at risk of reacting in ways that’ll only complicate the situation or possibly make things worse.

Here are some specific actions Oliver recommends to help us deal with the days ahead:

Sit down and make a list of all the things you can totally “control.” In all likelihood, this is a very short list. 

Then make a list of the things you believe you can influence. 

Finally, list the things you can do nothing about – and this is probably an endless list. Oliver says most of the time people are kind of shocked by how few things they can actually control. Some studies suggest that approximately two-thirds of what we worry about are things totally beyond our control.

Now, rank the list of things you can actually influence from one to 10, with 10 being the highest. The things at the bottom of the list are the things you actually have the least influence over. Then look at the things you scored five and above. Ask yourself, “What are some specific things I can do in these areas?” Your answers may be something like this: I can stay aware of the latest updates or I can practice good self-care. 

Speaking of practicing good self-care, Oliver points out that we are only as good for our spouse, children, extended family and friends as we are for ourselves. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can really be unhelpful to others. You can love yourself and others by eating well, resting, utilizing spiritual resources if you are a person of faith and getting exercise. 

Count your blessings. In challenging times, it is easy to focus on the negative instead of what you actually have. Make a list of your blessings. Do you have food? Is there a roof over your head? Can you walk, talk, see and hear? Do you have people who love you and are checking in on you? Do you have electricity, running water and access to the internet? Visually seeing your list is empowering. 

Support others. Ask yourself, “How can I encourage, express appreciation, support or pray for others?”

Find ways to connect face to face through Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime or something else. Although we’re having to maintain social distancing, relationships are still so important and add value to our lives. Texting and Facebook are ok, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face contact. Seeing someone’s face and hearing their voice is comforting and psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally nurturing. We all need that, especially now. Isolation is good for not spreading the virus, but relationship isolation isn’t healthy.

Pay attention to your pets. Brain science now tells us that interactions with our pets can be life-giving, especially in times of crisis. 

When people feel like they can’t do anything, anxiety, fear, discouragement, and depression creep in. People become overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. 

These suggestions may seem small in the scheme of things, but they’re not insignificant. Instead, these recommendations can help you grow smarter and make wiser decisions. Look for the opportunity to encourage others, because it’s not just about your own survival. It’s about helping others, too!

Ask yourself, “What’s going to be my next healthy step?”

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