Shelter in Place Survival Guide
We're all in thisTogether
(This page was originally built in 2020 during the initial shelter in place but many of the resources remain relevant)
Many of us are feeling scared right now in this time of extreme uncertainty and constant flux, but we feel less scared together and it is possible to experience a sense of togetherness even when we are separated by social distancing. Staying home and honoring the Shelter in Place is a powerful act of compassion and the most important and effective form of action we can currently take in this fight. While we are learning to adjust to a new way of life we can continue to intentionally engage with what is important to us and find new ways to cope and connect. I have been inspired by all of the resources and support circulating since this crisis began. So many people are sharing their gifts and proving that when our normal is shattered, human kindness prevails. I created this space as a a launching pad for resources, coping strategies, entertainment and general goodness. It is a collaborative collection of ideas for cultivating peace, resilience, courage, patience, compassion and hope.
You're not alone!
And you don't need to suffer alone. Check out these resources, coping tools, and virtual support groups ...
Social isolation doesn't have to mean emotional isolation!
We can still practice social connection while physically distancing.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed and adrift these days, like we're lost at sea. Engaging in creative activities like doing art or reading poetry can help us get grounded, open our hearts and expand out mindset.
Don't be ruled by Fear. This virus is not magical or lurking around every corner. It requires contact to contract like any other virus. It is empowering to know that if we follow these rules we can stay safe:
1. Wash your hands after touching unknown surfaces
2. Avoid touching your face
Find the second one difficult? Learn the trick to stop touching your face here.
Viruses aren’t the only things that spread through networks of people. Attitudes and behaviors do too. We can choose to spread viral kindness, gratitude, humor, love and hope.
Like my mother always says...
Hope springs eternal.
Need a lift?
We can all use something to brighten our spirits
Hardship can highlight the best of humanity. Amidst the fear and grief and suffering there is kindness and generosity and resilience. It may not seem obvious at first glance but there are just as many stories about altruism, creativity and redemption out there, so turn off the news and tune in to KarunaVirus site (Karuna is Sanskrit for compassion) for a daily dose of inspiration.
There are lessons and gifts and room for gratitude in this pandemic even while we are grieving and feeling scared, angry and sad. Those may seem like contradicting perspectives but acceptance is not the same as approval and acknowledging a silver lining is not the same as saying it is worth the suffering. This crisis is inviting us to expand our perspectives and learn how to hold all the different, and at times opposing, truths.
Marian Brehmer writes, " A lot is being said these days. Clarity can be hard to come by, silence even more so. Overwhelmed by the cacophony of voices, I sat down to synthesize some perspectives that shine light on the corona crisis. Most of you will already have come across some of those ideas. They show us what we can learn from the current situation. Corona holds a mirror that reflects our relationship with ourselves, with the Earth, with each other and with the broader systems we live in... Whichever of the conflicting narratives around corona you choose to believe, there is one thing we probably all agree on: As a human family, we are faced with a unique moment in history that — like any crisis — holds tremendous gifts."
An interesting silver lining
"Perhaps for the first time in history, it is perfectly normal to struggle with mental health" and our emotional state is becoming part of the national dialogue. The founder and director of the New York Center for Anxiety writes about the unexpected Blessing of an Anxiety Disorder.
Many who have historically struggled with anxiety are now feeling less isolated and alone in their way of thinking as the state of the world is matching their long-held perception of it and suddenly everyone feels the same way they always have. In some ways, they are more prepared to manage this new normal than those who have never experienced the distress associated with this level of uncertainty.
The Miracle of Morning
I thought I'd awaken to a world in mourning.
Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming.
But there's something different on this golden morning.
Something magical in the sunlight, wide and warming.
I see a dad with a stroller taking a jog.
Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog.
A grandma on a porch fingers her rosaries.
She grins as her young neighbor brings her groceries.
While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,
Our people have never been more closely tethered.
The question isn't if we will weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend.
Like light, we can't be broken, even when we bend.
As one, we will defeat both despair and disease.
We stand with healthcare heroes and all employees;
With families, libraries, schools, waiters, artists;
Businesses, restaurants, and hospitals hit hardest.
We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.
For it's our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn't endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
Read children's books, dance alone to DJ music.
Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder.
From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.
We'll observe how the burdens braved by humankind
Are also the moments that make us humans kind;
Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;
Heeding the light before the fight is over.
When this ends, we'll smile sweetly, finally seeing
In testing times, we became the best of beings.
This episode of
explores why people turn to poetry during troubled times. "We saw it after 9/11 and we're seeing it now as the coronavirus travels around the world. When the world seems broken, poetry is often the one kind of language that helps."
What are you doing to cope & connect?
spending time in nature and getting fresh air
going for walks, hikes or runs
making playlists and listening to music
reading books or listening to audiobooks
listening to podcasts with comedic, positive or inspirational messages
watching TED talks
using meditation apps like Calm
painting, drawing, sketching, and creating art in its many forms
cooking, baking and experimenting with new recipes
drinking tea and being cozy
getting plenty of rest & catching up on sleep
walks with the dog
cuddles with the cat
playing cards or board games
talking to friends
- any of the above over FaceTime with friends!
Things i love
The beautiful wisdom of the book
The books, TED Talks, podcast, and basically anything Brene Brown
The Masterclass, guided meditations and mindfulness resources on the Calm app
The uplifting insight of the Greater Good
Ride the Waves
Tips for Letting Go...
The most common recommendations for managing anxiety are limiting intake of news coverage, creating time each day to do something joyful and staying connected to loved ones. Here are some tips on How to Stay Sane in a World that Isn't from the New York Times.
We are living in a state of uncertainty and navigating an overwhelming amount of information that is rapidly changing and focused on the negative, creating a fertile ground for anxiety. Limit media intake, practice focusing only on what is happening in this exact moment, and intentionally make space for positive experiences. Here are more tips for coping if you have Anxiety or OCD.
Ten Percent Happier is offering a free live sanity break, featuring some of the world's best meditation teachers every weekday at 3pm ET.
Mindful SF is offering drop in virtual mindfulness sessions open to everyone, donations benefiting SF restaurant employees.
Are you a parent of child with OCD? Join this virtual support group to learn tools and build community.
Kathleen Dunbar, MFT offers practices for grounding, mindfulness and resetting in her Calm during Covid blog.
Susan Regan, MFT and Holly Forman-Patel offer a free talk on Parenting during a Pandemic.
The Mind Therapy Clinic is offering a Free Virtual Support Group for Parents beginning April 20.
Feel the feelings
We can expect to be visited by a variety of emotions as we navigate this uncertain time. It is normal to feel worried, restless, frustrated, disappointed, irritable, anxious and sad at times. It is okay to let yourself cry or ask for support.
Acknowledge and validate whatever you feel. Simply offering yourself validation will help the emotion pass like a wave. Here are some tips from the Mindfit DBT Center if if you start feeling stuck in an emotion.
feel disappointed about a special event being cancelled or annoyed with being stuck at home
have compassion for the people who are suffering from the many forms of loss and devastation caused by this pandemic.
All of it is true.
It is undeniable we are living in a time of excessive suffering. Even in the best of times we can expect to experience strong uncomfortable emotions, it's just part of the deal of being human. As innately human as it is to have emotions, the habitual human response to feelings tends to be either fight them or feed them.
But there is another way, it just takes practice...
Recognize Notice what you're feeling & name it
Allow Be with what's happening right now without trying to change it
Investigate Notice what sensations arise in your body
Nurture Take a stance of compassion
Dive deeper into RAIN with Tara Brach and Dan Harris. Remember that this is a practice and we can expect to be clumsy when we are trying new things. Brene Brown delves into the extreme discomfort of "first times" in her podcast and also reminds us that her decades of research have shown that"if we don't feel our feelings they will eat us alive."
Coping with uncomfortable emotions
Jack Kornfield, Buddhist monk and mindfulness pioneer offers this wisdom on coping with the pandemic...
“Epidemics are a part of the cycle of life on this planet. The choice is how we respond. With greed and hatred and fear and ignorance? Or with generosity, clarity, steadiness and love? What’s needed in a time like this are ways to steady the heart ... The first step is acknowledgment and the willingness to be present. You could almost whisper to yourself, “Sadness, fear, anxiety, grief, longing,” as if to bow to that feeling and hold it with respect. That allows the feeling to open — maybe even intensify for a bit — but eventually to soften. The next step is to bring in a sense of compassion for all the fears and confusion and helplessness. These feelings are all part of the fight-flight-or-freeze instinct in the body and the mind. If I make space for the feelings and they have time to be felt, it’s as if my awareness gets bigger and I can hold all of this with greater ease and compassion and presence and steadiness."
Positive Self Talk is our armor in a harsh world. Our words are powerful and the things we tell ourselves make a difference. Be kind when you talk to yourself, you deserve it. And research shows it will only help you in the long run.
Humor helps us be with what we cannot otherwise tolerate or integrate. There is no medicine as sweet as a good laugh and laughter is a gift that we can give ourselves and others.
Acting altruistically helps us rise above fear. Buoying someone else's spirits has the same effect on your own.
Dr. Rick Hansen offers advice on how to be resilient during coronavirus as well as a free on-line summit on resiliency with top experts in the field of well-being.
Eric Barker shares more details on the above in his 5 Secrets to Mental Toughness.
Happiness may sound like a ludicrous idea at a time like this or possibly we need to practice ways of cultivating joy, delight and well-being now more than ever.
The Atlantic recently launched a new column called “How to Build a Life” which aims to give you the tools you need to construct a life that feels whole and meaningful.
"We must risk delight ... We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world."
- Jack Gilbert
We know that anxiety feeds off of the unknown and under these unusual and rapidly-changing circumstances we may feel pulled to follow anxious thoughts but we also have an opportunity to practice intentionally bringing ourselves back to the present moment over and over again. The breath is a powerful anchor to bring us out of whirling thoughts and back into our bodies.
The Power of Gratitude
Starting a daily Gratitude Practice or "Silver Linings Playbook" will help train your brain to focus on the positive and will reset your system.
You might be asking, "how can I feel thankful at a time like this?" It turns out that it's not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. According to UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral,
"Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful."
This is one of my favorite TED talks on the power of positive mindset by Happiness Researcher Shawn Achor who knows a thing or two about gratitude.
We all have a wise and gifted teacher and healer available to us at all times, free of charge. Nature. Whether your brain needs peace, stimulation or distraction you can step outside and tune in to the shapes, patterns, textures, sounds, smells and millions of small wonders in the natural world. More on the benefits of nature. Bring some nature into your home with a virtual visit to one of our National Parks.
"When we relax the nervous system, it enables us to reconnect with ourselves. In so doing, we familiarize ourselves with our deepest values, and our deepest humanity. We connect with something essential. It's a bit like coming home, to a place that feels so natural, so effortless, and so right, that you realize you've been missing something very important all along. This realization enables us to better connect with others, because there is no longer a gap between who we are deep down, and what we present to the world."
Tune in to Some Good News
"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.
Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.
It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good."
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes