Who I’m worried about are others, especially those who don’t have the stability and relative assurances I’m blessed with. If I get sick, I have a room I can isolate myself within. I have national healthcare, so I will get tested and treated properly. If I can’t work, or if I die, my family is not going to starve because of it.
If you have the luxury of some stability during this time, you can help yourself and others by being prepared.
First things first, do yourself a favor and get organized. Organization will reduce the level of daily stress that you have to cope with, and make it much easier to keep a clean and healthy environment. I’m a fan of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method partly because if you do it correctly and adjust it to your specific needs, it forms good habits that don’t go away. You’ll find yourself thinking of how you will store and maintain new things you acquire, an whittling down your possessions to what you actually use and enjoy. Also I like it because one of the principles is to sort things by category rather than by room. This is important during a pandemic partly so that you know where everything is, and partly so that you know how much room you actually have.
Things can change very quickly with many people getting sick at once. You may end up hosting friends and relatives for awhile, or needing to keep people’s pets. If you have an exposure incident, you may need to self isolate. You may have to keep someone’s things if they pass on and didn’t have someone to retrieve them before their place needed to be cleared. You never know. So it’s a good idea to minimize the clutter and free up as much space as possible.
If you have extra space that you don’t need as living quarters, you may need it for storage or shelter or a work room. Things are becoming very scary in some places, so if you can, it’s not a bad idea to prepare some emergency shelter that would not be obvious to a home invader.
Something important that many people might not consider, wash all your blankets and winter coats now, whether or not you plan to use them immediately. You might need those extras if you have surprise guests, but also, you want to keep dust mites down. They can contribute to or worsen pneumonia if someone catches any respiratory illness.
Prepare for Understaffed Services.
With the flu and Covid 19 plus other diseases that tend to spread more in the fall and winter, there could be a situation where half or more of everyone in a city could be very ill at once. We hope it doesn’t get to that, but there will at least be many businesses and services running on the bare minimum, or where there may be no one available for days or weeks. Unlike in times past, people won’t usually be encouraged to show up for work when they are ill. This is a good thing.
So if you can, get three months or more supply of any medications you may need. Make appointments far in advance as possible. If there are medications that you may die or suffer greatly if you lose access to, look for alternatives that can tide you over for a week to a month just in case.
If you anticipate weather issues, make sure your neighborhood has a plan that is not totally dependent on government or municipal services. Organize with others who have the means to help others during storms and other disasters.
Even if there isn’t an outright disaster, due to understaffing, power outages and various slows or stops in services may last longer than usual. So stock up on batteries and alternative lighting, cooking, and communication. Make sure to have at least one land line phone that does not need electricity to work, and a battery powered radio.
This is also a good time to check that all your battery powered things don’t have corroded or damaged batteries. I myself have had to clean a few flashlights out lately.
Pool Your Resources.
This is the time to make sure that there is no one getting left out or left behind. Some people are uncooperative and silly, but those who are able to work and share with others should be doing so. As much as you can, make sure everyone around you or in your circle of family and friends has enough to eat, enough clothes, and enough of everything they need to get through the winter. It may even be helpful in your organizing to consider that someone else may need that coat you never wear to stay warm, or that hand lotion you never use to protect their skin while working in the cold.
Find out what everyone needs and get those needs met. Old people and others in high risk categories especially need help right now, getting groceries and things they need without having to put themselves in more danger than necessary. Until there is an available vaccine, they will need people to deliver food and pick up prescriptions, but also, many need some company and to be taken on safe outings.
If you have the space and ability, you should prepare an escape area for visitors. An area with large windows that can be open or a balcony is best. People will need to get away from family or room mates, and it’s a good idea to make a safe space to have company. Space the seating areas so that you’ll be within the distancing guidelines, and have extra masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies handy. Explain the house rules and how they should clean after themselves.
Whatever you have to give, whether tangible goods, skill, or emotional support, give. We need all hands on deck for the coming months.
Feed Your Brain.
Now is the time to stock up on reading materials, sign up for online courses, and consider how to invest in something to occupy your mind so you and your loved ones aren’t tempted to take undue risks. Among the undue risks people took this past winter have been creating drama out of boredom. So don’t be bored.
Learning a skill that will help you and your loved ones is a good thing, and it may help others as well. Doctors and nurses still need masks, bonnets, and scrubs. People are still having babies, and those babies need blankets and booties, especially in the premie wards. They and terminally ill kids both need gear that won’t irritate their sensitive skin. So this is a good time to learn to sew, knit, or crochet, or improve and maintain your skills.
It’s also a good time for writing and visual arts. Even if you never post or publish your work, future generations may benefit from your perspective and creativity through these interesting times.
Plan For The Future.
When I was laid up with pneumonia, one of the things that took my mind off the morbid was watching cooking shows. I couldn’t eat anything, so it was nice to at least look at good food. Along the way I saw Cooking Thin and learned some new things about how to eat healthier and get my weight under control. I thought to myself, “If I survive this, I am definitely going to try some of these things.” This helped a lot in my recovery.
Making plans for after the winter is over is not the same thing as procrastinating and putting things aside until later. What I mean by making plans is making real plans and preparations. While I was stuck in bed only being able to watch shows about food, I was talking to my family and getting them ready for the changes. Part of those changes involved me making tasty home made sweets instead of buying junk food from outside. They looked forward to this and we discussed how I was going to be baking cakes more often. We made shopping lists and started out with things that they could do for themselves until I was better like getting rid of the canola oil and buying real butter to replace the margarine in the fridge.
If you get sick or if you are just bored or stressed, making actual moves towards improving things will get you through the rough times both emotionally and practically. It’ll keep you from overthinking and ruminating on trivialities and you will also save money. A lot of overspending and impulse buying happens because of worrying about the wrong things or not having enough real stuff to focus on. None of us is that rich or has such a posh life that we really have nothing important to think about.
If we survive, it is a blessing. The future is a gift we should not take for granted. At the same time, too much fear about the future is the wrong thing to give energy to. We should instead prepare and do what we can to make the future better for ourselves and others.
If you’re the entrepreneurial type, consider what people will need when this long winter is over. If we do have a vaccine for Covid-19 by then, people will probably go a little crazy with vacationing. If not, people will need things to do in the springtime and summer that are fun but keeping in the PPE and distancing guidelines.
If you work in the tourist or service industries, you’ve been taking some serious financial hits lately. Consider how you can improve or build a business that will survive these kinds of situations. I already talked with some friends who work in hotels about ways to stay open but make sure people keep the distancing and hygiene standards by making the other service staff less or indistinguishable from security and showing presence. Whatever ideas you can think of to make the present and the future better, give them some attention.
Get Into The Spirits of Winter.
If you are a spiritual person, this is the time to beef up your observance schedule. At the end of October/beginning of November, many of us will be commemorating our departed and Ancestors. Even if your party and gathering plans have to be on hold, go on and decorate your residence for the holidays. Dress up, give gifts, and show mindfulness of the season.
Aside of this level of observance being good for you psychologically and spiritually, it’ll brighten other people’s days as well. A lot of kids will be missing trick or treating this year. Make parcels of candy and treats for coworkers, friends, and family. If you are cool with your neighbors, put gifts in their mailbox or doorway.
There is plenty to do and plenty to think about other than wallowing in sadness, fear, and misery. It is healthy to have some fear as in caution and healthy respect for what we are dealing with. This is a potentially deadly disease that is sweeping our world and taking away some of the best of us. Being diabetic and 50+ now, and disabled, I might not make it through the winter.
But I will do my best. I hope that you will too.
Blessings and Ashé!