Marion mayor: Tips for staying sane during COVID-19

Marion Mayor Steve Little offered 10 ideas for what you can do to stay sane during the coronavirus situation. One of them is enjoying walking in the grass barefoot. “When you are at home, gather up your family or friends who live with you and go outside into your yard,” wrote Little. “Take off your socks and shoes and walk around barefoot in the grass. This may sound silly, but it will make you feel better. While you’re outside, look all around you.”

A friend told me this today: “This coronavirus COVID 19 is making me anxious. I’m afraid. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING! WHAT CAN I DO?”

First, know this: you can do something about this situation that all of us are in! What you can do is important to others and to you.

Before I give you 10 examples of what you can do, I want to share with you something my wife (a retired elementary school counselor) taught me many years ago. Many problems and challenges we face fall into one of two categories: some are like a piece of modeling clay, and others are like a rock.

If it is like modeling clay, you can hold it, think about it, squeeze it and shape it into whatever you want it to be. But if it is like a rock, if you try to squeeze it and shape into something else, you’ll only get more frustrated. You can figure out and solve problems that are like modeling clay. But you just have to accept problems that are like a rock. Our first challenge is seeking the wisdom to know the difference.

The existence of the corona virus COVID 19 is a rock. But how we respond to it is a piece of modeling clay.

Here are 10 things you can do to respond to this bizarre situation, starting right now:

1. Remember that this new set of circumstances and hardships is temporary. We will get through it. Things will be OK once again, and we all look forward to that.

2. Call or email or facetime or use other social media to contact your friends...those you regularly are around and those you haven’t contacted in years. Your friends and family are still your friends and family. People still love you, and you still love others. Let them know it. You’ll feel better and so will they.

3. When you are at home, gather up your family or friends who live with you and go outside into your yard. Take off your socks and shoes and walk around barefoot in the grass. This may sound silly, but it will make you feel better. While you’re outside, look all around you. Tiny flowers are popping up in the yard, beside hedges, and along ditch banks. Squat down and look at the new spring growth. Look at the new leaves and tiny flowers all over the tree branches. Enjoy the miracles of spring growth in nature. The leaves and plants are coming back, and so will we.

4. Take a walk on some of the beautiful nature trails that are all over McDowell County. Get someone (keep a safe distance) and go out for 10 minutes or all day. Talk about the amazing things you see. If you go by a stream, stop and look at it for several minutes. Take a very deep breath and exhale slowly. Do it again. You will surprise yourself at how this can help relieve some stress.

5. Call or email a local restaurant and order a take-out (or a delivery) of lunch or supper. It is very important to support our local businesses, including restaurants and all others.

6. Buy a gift card from local businesses. All our local businesses need your support. You can use it later or give it to someone, but the local businesses need the revenue right now. And tell them you support them and encourage them to stay open. We all will lose if any of our local businesses close as a result of a sudden drop in the number of customers.

7. Walk in downtown Marion. Take someone with you. Walk the entire length of the downtown on one side of Main Street and then cross over and walk back on the other side. Walk slowly and pay attention to the businesses you see. Also notice the unique shapes, designs and features of the buildings, especially the really old buildings with the fancy brick features. Think about the skill and hard work it took for the craftsmen to lay the brick and construct those buildings many years ago when everything was done by hand.

8. If it’s not time for a meal, stop in at places that are open, such as Artisana (for ice cream), Simply Sweet & Happy (for cookies, etc., beside McDowell Local), Mr. Bob’s Do-Nuts (try a cinnamon roll), Flavors on Main, plus lots of others. Don’t forget hardware stores, jewelry stores, furniture, and other retail. Buy something, and say something nice and encouraging to the folks running the business. Some of our local businesses are really struggling. Your support is extremely important.

9. If you have children or grandchildren, ask them to draw a picture for you or for other family members...those they see often and those they don’t see very much. Tell the child that the picture is very beautiful, even if you don’t know what it is. Kids need to hear positive and encouraging comments from people. Actually, all of us need that.

10. Be calm. Be kind. Be patient. Everyone has their own personal challenges and we don’t know what they are. It just may be that other people you see are being impacted more than you. You may not know everything, and you may not be the smartest at everything. (Who is?) But you can be compassionate, and you can say something encouraging to others. You can smile at people you don’t know. Also, pray for everyone. Prayer helps. Read Psalms 46.

There are lots more things you can do. Please do not isolate yourself. Anxiety and fear thrive on personal isolation. If there are programs on television or on internet that just cause you to be more afraid of the future, don’t look at them! There is a lot more to life and to community than the coronavirus.

Some of our local people will lose their jobs because some businesses will have major cut-backs or might close. This has already happened to some. Please remember these people and their families. Be compassionate and supportive. Hopefully their jobs will be restored before too long.

There is not a food shortage in the United States. Bakeries are baking bread as fast as they can and the stores will have a steady bread supply very soon. The same goes for paper supplies. Buy what you need, but please don’t buy five or six when you only need two or three.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water often. If you get a fever or have trouble breathing, call a doctor. But please do not call for an EMS ambulance if you just have a sniffle or a mild sore throat. They need to be available for people who are really sick. Be aware and be safe, but don’t let these challenging times dominate your life and puncture a hole in your spirit. You are better than that!

There have been times we have heard one thing from elected government leaders who have no medical training, and then heard something different from educated, trained, experienced professional medical people. Trust the medical people and follow their advice. We have many excellent, well-qualified doctors, nurses and other medical providers in McDowell County and in our country. Listen to them.

We all depend on each other, every day, in more ways than we can count. Together, with everyone supporting everyone else, we will get through these current challenges.

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