I’m 65, with significant risk factors relative to COVID-19. My wife is 71, and has even more risk factors. We are doing our best to isolate as completely as we can. I am aware that I am a happier person when I feel useful, which is why I’m teaching more free classes. (See Growing Jewishly in a Challenging Year: Options for Study Online.)
Today the SF Bay Area county health departments asked everyone to shelter in place at home for three weeks beginning midnight on March 17 (tonight.)
Isolating is not a selfish or cowardly act. We are saving lives by staying home, washing hands, not touching our faces, not overloading the hospitals, and doing all the things the health professionals say. The example of Italy should be all the warning we require as we try to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic.
Here are some ideas for ways to spend our time and improve our lives and the lives of others while we are doing our part to flatten the curve:
- Continue being careful at home – when were your doorknob and doorbell last cleaned with disinfectant?
- Go through they rolodex or the directory on my phone – who do I know who may be feeling very lonely and scared? Give them a call and listen more than talk. Listening is helping right now. Reach out via email, if phones aren’t the best option.
- On social media, I watch who spreads reliable news, and who spreads titillating rumors. I follow the reliable news spreaders, and unfollow the rumor mongers. I refuse to let their garbage work on my head.
- Now is a great time to revive our spiritual practices, or to develop one: meditate, or pray, or exercise with spiritual intent.
- Now is a great time to learn! Take an online class, use software to learn a foreign language, read, read, read! YouTube and other online resources can have you exchanging greetings in Hebrew in no time.
- Public libraries often offer access to e-books.
- Eat as healthfully as we can.
- Get enough sleep! Sleep boosts our immune systems, and too many people are on a sleep deficit.
- Exercise is important. Stretch, lift weights (books?), do a little cardio. I do 20 minutes of exercise every day. If you are in an apartment, call or leave a note to the people downstairs asking when the best time for you to make noise.
- Tzedakah: for those of us financially secure enough to do so, this is a great time to give to charities that care for people with food or housing insecurity.
- Do you have fantasies about writing a book? This is a great time to keep a diary: we are living through history.
- We need to care for our pets. Appreciate their company. It isn’t a great time for cats or dogs to run around outside, though: if they get lost, we cannot go look for them.
- Passover is coming! We each need to prepare according to our observance and our situation. (See Passover Prep: Begin in Egypt.) (More about Passover in a future post.)
- Be kind to other members of our households. This is a stressful time, and it’s easy to get cranky. It’s a good time to practice appreciation and to let criticism go.
- Find a synagogue that streams services online. Start with your local community but I will see about posting a list of streaming services in a later post.
- Count our blessings, beginning with life and breath.
- Be aware that there are some who are in difficult situations, with unpleasant or abusive housemates. Hold them in our hearts.
Ideas for those home with children:
- Make and decorate cards and send them to loved ones (or save for later delivery.) Index cards or folded printer paper make great cards. “Junk mail” can make collages.
- Reading to kids and letting them read to us – and to each other! – is a wonderful activity.
- Beware too much scary news on TV.
- Make puppets out of old socks, and rehearse a show for the adults to watch when they take a break from home-work!
- Put music on – everyone dance!
- This is a great opportunity to teach age-appropriate household skills to kids. Even little ones can “dust” with a cloth.
- Set up phone and video chats for the kids with their friends and with family they can’t visit right now.
- For older kids, this might be a great time to learn a craft. YouTube has lots of great videos, and both knitting and crochet can be learned with any string, if you have needles or a hook.
- Use YouTube to learn Jewish songs, and songs from your family’s heritage.