100+ Ways to Find Relief, Comfort, and Meaning During the Pandemic

yourlifestorymatters Apr 06, 2020

Did you thoughtfully list your 2020 New Year’s resolutions and set big goals at the end of 2019?

If you’re someone who plans ahead, you paid your final deposit on that cruise to the Panama Canal, or set the date for your March birthday party, booked your flight to attend your friend’s June wedding in Spain, or bought your tickets to see Hamilton.  Perhaps you met with your church committee to plan the Easter Egg Hunt or registered to attend that motivational retreat in Vermont. 

But the unbelievable happened, and…


No matter where you were in the world in March 2020, you faced a new problem that made you pivot, swerve, or completely abandon those resolutions, at least the way you saw them playing out.

You were shaken, startled, and terrified by something too tiny to see with the naked eye.

You quickly shuffled your priorities.

You wanted to feel safe

Unless you’re a doomsday prepper and therefore prepared for all manner of disasters, you were caught off guard, so you sought safety in completely irrational ways.

Amateurs! You could actually learn a few things about stockpiling from the doomsday preppers.

Suddenly you were worried if you had enough sanitizer, bottled water, and yes, toilet paper!

You even stood in the rain waiting for the store to open, spaced at least 6 ft away from people you once labeled as hoarders, except now you’re one of them. How much sanitizer will you need?

Will you have enough of whatever you think you need to survive a mandatory lockdown in your town, state, or country when it comes?

And it did come.

But it’s not about the sanitizer or toilet paper. We’re scared, and a closet full of “something” makes us feel safe.

The photos of empty shelves from our friends didn’t help our anxiety one bit.

Welcome to the new “normal”

You vacillate between listening to the news and checking how many people near you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and binging on Netflix. You may even know someone or know of someone who has died as a direct result of this fast-spreading malicious virus that takes down its victims like an active shooter with an endless supply of ammunition.

But this is different. With an active shooter we’re told to Run. Hide. Fight.

The COVID-19 virus is invisible to the naked eye, sneaky, and indiscriminate.

You aren’t used to this kind of uncertainty, this level of fear, the open-endedness, and all these confusing and painful feelings. What is this?

Part of what you’re feeling is grief

Scott Berinato in a Harvard Business Review article turns to David Kessler, the world’s foremost expert on grief, to name and manage what we’re feeling. Kessler cowrote with Elisabeth Kubler Ross, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss(affiliate link.) His newest published book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief (affiliate link) adds another stage to the grieving process.

Kessler: We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

As changes mount, you want relief, comfort, and meaning

We are beginning to acknowledge the reality of where we are and feel the need to do something other than stockpile toilet paper and eat cookies.

Can you feel that?

Even the dictionary is scrambling to keep up with new words rapidly entering our language, such as social distancing, patient zero, self-quarantining, and super spreader. Even the shortened term for this pandemic, COVID-19, is a new name for a new disease.

If you’re seeking relief, comfort, and meaning, then you’ll enjoy exploring the many ways people around the globe are finding it. On the list below, I’ve gathered idea starters as well as activities and programs provided by the generosity of organizations.

Some may be limited to just the quarantine period or shorter, so move fast to engage with the ones that interest you. I’ve made every effort to list free (or free alternative) or deeply discounted programs and tools that people are using in a new or expanded way as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We crave social contact

As soon as we were told to stay at home, we looked for ways to get together. That’s why at the top of the list are ways to fill that need in the virtual world, followed by ways you can create, celebrate, innovate, learn, and engage. Some of these programs or tools may appear in more than one list. Every effort was made to ensure these links are live and current, but I have no control on what these services may decide to do.

Idea starters from neighborhoods around the world helped keep contact, even at a distance . . .

  • Teddy bear in windows—An adaptation of an Easter-egg hunt in my neighborhood is putting a teddy bear in your window so that children out for a walk with their families can see how many teddy bears they can spot.

Family and friends reach out to stay in touch . . .

We crave information, mental stimulation, and entertainment

Online courses, books, educational projects, and podcasts become more accessible for children through adults . . .

We long for arts, crafts, and entertainment to help give meaning to our lives . . .

We search for useful projects for now and later . . .

  • Growing vegetables at home has gained popularity for its convenience and ability to promote better health

We seek ways to help ourselves

During the Spanish flu of 1918 people sought ways to cover their faces, just as we are doing now.

Many are looking for ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19 virus . . .

When word got out that masks were not immediately available, some people began to make them at home to donate to healthcare providers, and others made masks for themselves. These are just a few of the patterns suggested on social media. Search YouTube and Facebook for many more.

We looked for ways to stay active . . .

We looked for ways to relieve our anxiety . . .

What now?

I’ve shared just a few of the countless resources that can help you find relief, comfort, and meaning as an individual during these challenging times.

As medical professionals, researchers, and healthcare workers race to increase testing, quell the spread of COVID-19, and find a treatment, the rest of us have important work to do too. We can resist listening to and spreading dangerous pop-up cures, follow the safety guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control, and offer safe help to those who are most in need. Most of all, we can continue to seek healthy ways to find collective relief, comfort, and meaning for ourselves and our families.


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