By Rose Strong
Are you getting news weary? Do you roll your eyes when you turn on the radio or television and find the news shows are still talking about the new coronavirus? But you hesitate to turn it off because you don’t want to miss anything, right?
The news cycle during this pandemic seems to change from one moment to the next. One report brings the facts and figures of how the virus has hit the United States or Italy or some other country. The next is about handwashing, and the next is about the lack of toilet paper to be found in your local grocery stores.
Then there are the White House briefings, your state governor’s briefings, and if you are listening to local radio, you may even get a briefing from your local county or hospital. One recent evening, I was watching Beachfront Bargain Hunt (imagining my vacation coming up this summer, hopefully) on HGTV and on came a commercial from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can’t get away from the news.
With the fluidity of the pandemic, none of us wish to miss any updates. But the constant flow of virus-related news is not only scary, it’s overwhelming. After a while, the news can be too depressing or terrifying or even both.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, The Pew Research Center’s John Gottfried studied how Americans feel about the news they receive and found that two-thirds of us feel worn out by what we are exposed to.
Imagine how we are feeling, now! Every national, regional and hyperlocal newscast, newspaper or digital news site has innumerable stories regarding the novel coronavirus. There’s little getting away from it. However, you can turn it off. Walk away for a while and turn off the internet. In this pandemic, you’ll hear if something big happens.
Mobilizing the Community ‘Helpers’
Fred Rogers who was known for his PBS television show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, often had to explain difficult news to children. Facing the assassination of Robert Kennedy, he reassured children with one of his quotes, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
This is great advice to help adults to cope, as well, and right now, lots of helpers are springing into action. See the list below of ways you can be a helper, and if you have kids, get them involved in some of these activities.
- Hospitals are reaching out to their communities asking for donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as disposable masks, footwear, gloves, and other items such as hand sanitizer, liquid soap, etc. Keep an eye on social media for drop-off points in your local area.
- Food banks are staying open. Next time you’re out getting groceries, pick up a few items that could be used by those who need them most. Contact the agency to which you’re donating and ask how best you can drop off the items.
- Your local hospitals also are in need of blood donations, particularly if you have Type O or Type O-Positive blood. I’m sure they’ll take any type at this point. Hospitals are losing donors right now due to travel restrictions and the public’s fear of crowds.
- NPR’s Morning Edition recently aired a great piece on how to distance yourself in your home from others for the long haul. One of the concerns is those who may be stuck in their home with no ability to get away from a dysfunctional relationship. If you know someone in this situation, keep in touch. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 or text home to 741741 for those who would rather text someone instead.
While we all continue physically isolating ourselves to slow the spread of the virus, don’t forget humor. Laughter is the best medicine, in my humble opinion. It lightens up the mood of these serious days. If you’re looking for other ways to maintain positivity during a pandemic, check out this piece. One of my virtual officemates, Jennifer Carr, wrote a blog entitled, 25+ Ways to Maintain Positivity and Mental Health in Uncertain Times. It lists some awesome ways to help you stay positive.
Through it all, please, stay healthy, help level the curve, and turn off the news, even for just a bit.