We Are All In This Together: Words of Encouragement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dylan ZsigrayFrom the Desk of Dylan

rendering of the coronavirus

New Decade, Who Dis?

If someone told me that we would be in the midst of a global disease pandemic at the beginning of 2020, I likely would not have believed him or her. As I sit here writing this, I remember the initial news reports out of Wuhan, China that today feel like forever ago. Now, just over three months later, we have a severe world crisis upending our day-to-day lives.

This is not the start of the 2020s I was hoping for. I had the desire for 2020 to be a year of personal growth for myself and my company, Spark Creative. But perhaps this experience of staying at home, working to keep myself and others healthy, will be the impetus for personal growth that I just have not realized yet.

I have always been a planner. I do not like change, especially large, sporadic changes that seemingly come out of nowhere. However, sitting at home, on the sidelines watching government officials and health professionals implement orders, laws, and policies has shown me that my feelings of angst towards my discombobulated schedule are trivial compared to the exhausting work these heroes are doing to move our country forward.

In Times Like These, It Is Important to Keep Informed

When I was in seventh grade, I spent summer vacation sitting inside watching CNN each day. I was a news junkie. I devoted time to follow everything happening within our nation and world. As I grew older and added more to my schedule and workload, this became harder. But, I still understood the importance of facts and primary source information, especially in this age where misinformation is everywhere.

As we sit at home, it can be tempting to have the news on all day, scroll through social media, and read various articles from news outlets. This, after a while, can become quite depressing. So much of our news focuses on the negatives in society and when we are able to leave our homes, go to work, and meet up with friends & family this tends to be balanced out. When we are at home and isolated, it becomes burdensome.

Try to strike a fair balance between staying informed and keeping a positive mindset. To provide a window into my day, I read the New York Times and Washington Post newsletters each morning & evening, watch Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s press briefing each afternoon, and read various articles in the NYT and WaPo each evening. This keeps me informed with the information I need from differing sources without being deluged with it all day, every day.

Think about what works best for you. It can be tempting to rely on social media to give us the latest information, but we have seen rumors and other conspiracy theories overtake these platforms, only provoking fear and panic during an already difficult time. Stay informed and help others stay informed. Embrace facts, not fear.

Yes, Staying Home Is Difficult but Necessary

I have seen a lot of people who are upset at our local, state, and federal governments for implementing these social isolation measures. I have particularly noticed the rationale of “Well I do not have it so why do I have to stay home?” Or, another common one is “We should just isolate the high-risk population while everyone else continues on with their lives.”

Officials have been saying that we have learned more about this coronavirus each day. The science and facts that we relied on initially have evolved. For example, early on we thought that children were carriers of the virus but could not be affected negatively. Now, in Ohio, we have a two-year-old with symptoms. Young people who are not heeding recommendations to stay home and are instead going out of state on spring break are only putting themselves and their loved ones at higher risk.

We could be carrying the virus but not show any symptoms for 14 days. Think about how many people and things we come in contact with each day, let alone 14! So while we may not be sick ourselves, we could be passing the virus along unknowingly to someone we love who is high-risk or a friend who works in the healthcare or emergency response fields who is desperately needed during this time. Without doctors and healthcare workers our infrastructure cannot function during this time of need.

So while we may be tempted to ignore the advice of these career professionals and go on with our lives because we cannot bear to be inconvenienced, think about the bigger picture. The fewer people we come in contact with, the slower the disease spreads. This prevents essential workers from being pulled out of service and ensures that our hospitals can continue to serve patients with severe COVID-19 infections along with other health issues. Heart attacks, strokes, and cancer do not take a break during an additional health crisis.

Reserve Time for Yourself Plus Your Loved Ones

While we are all together under one roof, it is important to keep time for yourself while also keeping up the bonds with your loved ones. As someone who struggled with mental health for most of my adolescence, it can be easy to just want to stay in our rooms and binge watch Netflix all day. But, human beings thrive on interpersonal relationships. We need them.

In my home, we have started home-cooking meals again for lunch and dinner. We eat them together at the table without technology nearby. We also play games as a family and we have been filming casual home videos for my mother’s kindergarten classes. Individually, I am a subscriber to the Book of the Month so I have been catching up on reading some amazing novels by up-and-coming authors.

Take up a new skill during this time! There are many online websites offering free classes or courses so that we can be prepared for a diverse business climate once these social isolation measures are listed. On that part, it is important to emphasize that these health officials are stressing physical isolation — remaining at least six feet apart. You can still talk to people, of course! FaceTime grandparents, chat with your classmates, and rekindle old friendships.

It May Be Hard to See the Other Side, But We Will Make It

This is a difficult time for all of us. Individuals, families, schools, businesses, and nonprofits (just to name a few) are struggling. But, we should try to look at the bigger picture. Yes, we are all having to make sacrifices and do things that are not enjoyable. These measures are intended to protect our healthcare and emergency infrastructures. We have the ability to not be in a catastrophic situation like China or Italy.

However, this only happens if we take this seriously. Do not ignore the advice of government officials or career medical professionals. Do not act as if you know more than they do. Do not purposely defy the laws and orders enacted by the government. Most of all, do not give in to the misinformation and conspiracy theories all over the internet. Trust the officials who are working each day to keep us safe. It can be challenging to embrace this, especially when we like to be in control of our own lives. But if we remember that we are all in this together, we will make it out the other side.