Coping with the Apocalypse**

So, you’ve been washing your hands diligently, your home office is set up and ready for the next month, and your metric ton of toilet paper is arranged in neat piles around the house. Now what?

I’ve already been quarantining for almost two weeks due to the nature and flexibility of my job, so here are three things I’ve found to be the most important in helping me stay sane and centered. I hope they can help you find some security and stability in these overwhelming times.

1. Take It Easy On Yourself

I know you might be thinking you have all this extra time at home now. You’re going to be so productive! Write the next award-winning novella! Learn a new instrument! This is just an extended vacation, right?! IT’S NOT. This is an extremely stressful time, and you may struggle to match even your normal level of productivity. Your entire schedule and normal way of life, that you’ve probably been following for years, just vanished. You may feel fatigued, and existing conditions like anxiety or mental health issues may be exacerbated. You might even have some physical symptoms of stress: headaches, stomachaches, etc. That is okay. It’s okay! Let yourself experience those feelings without adding guilt into it. Realize you are carrying a lot of extra stress around with you, and be kind to yourself. Don’t be a slave driver. Give yourself a few hours to zone out in front of the TV if you really don’t have the energy for anything else. Don’t let that be all you do, but give yourself time to relax.

2. Find New Ways to De-stress

My usual way to de-stress is retail therapy. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite activities, and if I’m feeling overwhelmed or depressed, I’ll just go wander in the store and look at food. Unfortunately, that’s no longer an option. You may find that your normal ways of de-stressing are no longer viable or safe. Get creative and find new ways to de-stress. If you’re a social person, find ways to be social online. Set up Skype parties with friends or join a group. If you’re a creative person, find a new hobby. Look up a YouTube video and cook something new. You will need to alter your life patterns. Personally, I’ve been drinking a lot of hot tea and taking my dog for jogs.

3. Stay Active! Get Fresh Air!

Go outside! Do something! Anything! Open those windows and circulate that stale air you’ve been breathing. Even if you weren’t an active person before, you probably walked to your car, walked into work, walked around the grocery store. Now your longest trek is from the couch to the refrigerator. The past few days I’ve been getting headaches. As soon as I go outside, they vanish. Your body needs movement now more than ever when you’re carrying so much anxious energy. Move, and let it out. Take deep breathes, and let your body relax.

Everyone’s situation is different, and you need to find what works for you. Just remember, it’s all going to be alright. Yes, our lives are going to be very different over the next few weeks. Accept and embrace that, but above all, be good to yourself.

There are many people out there who are struggling from loss of income or difficulties finding food. Please look for ways to support them through the organizations and people in your community who are going above and beyond to help. Even a donation of a few dollars can make a huge difference.

~ R. E. Rule

What are some ways you’ve been coping or taking care of yourself lately?

**I in no way believe this is actually the apocalypse. That being said…as a socially awkward introvert, if I was going to experience the end of the world, on my tush in front of the TV would be the way I’d want to do it.