Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
(April 4, 2020) We live in a very different world than we did back in January when the calendar turned to 2020 and everyone was anticipating the great things they’d accomplish in the brand new decade.
Only 3 months ago, we all had futures we imagined…
- Kids graduating from high school or college
- A vacation we were planning
- A new job we were striving toward
- Retirement so close you could practically smell the beach where you’d spend your golden years
- The health and fitness goal you were finally going to achieve
- A positive lifestyle change you were planning to make
- A relocation to a new destination
- The advancement of your relationship, whether it was a new one or one you’d been in for a while
- A summer road trip
- Getting a new pet
- An empty nest and what you were going to do with that newly vacant bedroom
- A new family member
Three months ago, we all had dreams, goals for the future, or at least some idea of what the upcoming year would hold for us.
I’ll bet none of us even considered on New Year’s Eve that we’d spend the first half (at least) of the year dealing with a deadly pandemic. Heck, I sat on a balcony in a little seaside village in Montenegro, toasting the new decade with a friend and some Jack Daniels, watching fireworks over the Adriatic Sea, and planning what European destination I’d be heading to next.
It probably never crossed anyone’s mind that there’d be some crazy new virus that nobody had ever heard of which would leave us under the equivalent of house arrest for months. Few of us imagined that suddenly, over the course of just a few weeks, more than ten million Americans would suddenly become unemployed.
Dreams have been shattered.
Goals have been put aside.
Lives have been lost.
Everything has changed.
And nobody knows what the future will hold.
A lot of the things we do know are horrible.
How utterly terrifying to know that we’re all likely to lose somebody we love to this virus or to a medical condition that would have been survivable if the local hospital hadn’t been overflowing with COVID patients.
We know there’s nary a roll of toilet paper to be found in a huge swath of the United States. We know that our supply chain, if not broken, is at the least, badly bruised. We know that if a person we love goes into the hospital with COVID-19, there’s a frighteningly large chance they may never come out again unless it’s in a body bag. We know that medical professionals in New York City don’t even have personal protective equipment to keep themselves healthy while they try to keep people alive. We know that yesterday in the state of New York, 23 people died every hour of the day from the coronavirus that has destroyed the world as we know it.
We nearly all know people who have been laid off. Maybe it’s someone in your family. Maybe it’s you. And if you haven’t yet lost your job, are you waiting for that hammer to drop? We all know of businesses that aren’t going to make it through months of this shutdown.
We know people who couldn’t pay their rent this month. We know people who pulled it together this month but won’t be able to pay May’s rent if this lockdown should continue. We know it’s so bad that the government has said landlords can’t evict tenants in many states – which means the landlords may not be able to pay their mortgages.
We may not know much right now, but we know that the economy is a f*cking disaster.
And we have no idea when this current purgatory will end.
The uncertainty is one of the hardest parts.
The advent of COVID-19 has changed our lives so much that none of us has any idea what the future will bring. Whereas before we’d be thinking about our summer plans, perhaps a holiday at the beach or a camp for the kids, now we don’t know if we’ll even be able to leave our homes by the time summer rolls around.
How absolutely bizarre to have no idea what our worlds will look like in 3 months.
My family, so far, is blessedly healthy, a fact for which I give thanks every day. But it’s become difficult to think of much beyond that. We don’t know if my one daughter’s plan to relocate to another state for an opportunity will still be available. We don’t know if my other daughter’s workplace will reopen. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to head back to Europe and continue my long-awaited trip around the world.
When the lease is up at my daughter’s apartment, we don’t know where we’ll go because we don’t know what the world will look like then. Will we need to tap into those homesteading skills we learned back in California? If so, we sure can’t do it from where we live right now. Where will we go?
Will running a business online still even be a possibility at the end of this? Everything…every single thing…is in question.
All of us have some variation of these same questions running through our heads right now. It’s pretty hard to plan when you don’t know if the post-COVID world is going to look more like Mad Max, The Walking Dead, or Little House on the Prairie. Or maybe it’ll be a lot like the pre-COVID world, only with more money problems.
It’s hard to figure out your plan when you have no idea what post-apocalyptic world you’re going to end up in. So how do you keep from going nuts? How do you find some peace in a world with so much uncertainty?
How to survive in a world of uncertainty
The word “survive” may sound melodramatic, but for a lot of people who are finding themselves living with broken dreams, for those who have vulnerable loved ones, for those living with sudden financial uncertainty, and for those who are sacrificing time and contact with loved ones due to their own exposure to the virus, it fits the bill right now. No, we may not die from this but when your peace of mind suffers, it can be a real struggle.
Below are some ideas that may help you to get through this if you’re struggling.
Make plans every day. While you can’t really make plans for 6 months down the road, you can make plans for the day or even the week. Create a schedule for yourself. Don’t just lay there on the sofa watching Netflix and Amazon Prime all day long. It’s not good for you. Get up and get dressed (not necessarily office-dressed but don’t wear the same thing to live in and sleep in for three days in a row.) Figure out what nutrient-rich meals you’re going to make that day. Think about how you’ll exercise – will it be a walk with the dogs around the neighborhood or will you go to a nearby hiking trail? What work do you need to get accomplished? What room are you going to deep clean? Write it all down on a whiteboard or a piece of paper on the fridge so everybody knows what’s on the day’s agenda.
Don’t lay around watching television all day. Set yourself a time at which you’ll watch a movie or show online. I’ve worked from home for years, and one rule I’ve held for myself throughout it is that we don’t turn on Netflix until it’s getting dark. That means in the summer, it’s later because we can spend time doing things outdoors during the nice weather. With us being home all the time now, I’ve relaxed that rule slightly to 6 pm. But if you start watching while you have lunch it’s way to easy to get sucked into a series and the next thing you know, it’s bedtime and you never accomplished anything. This isn’t healthy mentally or physically so I strongly advise that if you are a television viewer or a person who likes to stream shows you limit this to evenings.
Prepare for what you can. We all know that we need to prep with the basics of food, water, seeds, tools, and the like. This doesn’t really change, regardless of what the future holds. So keep doing what you can to build up supplies and skills. A lot of things are out of our hands but you can control what is within your power.
Don’t consume a constant diet of bad news. I spend a lot of time researching this virus, the effects on our economy, how it has decimated other parts of the world, reading the heartbreaking stories of loss. I’ve been doing this since January 20th, when it first really appeared on my radar. I do not advise it to anyone. It can be hard to see the light when you spend your time delving into the darkness. I’ve been doing this for years and can compartmentalize to some degree, but this has been a long haul. Limit the amount of time you spend reading about this outbreak and the difficulties surrounding it. Unless your job depends on you knowing every detail about COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world, you can stay informed reading about it for 30 minutes a day instead of 6 hours a day. Trust me when I say this: your outlook will become much brighter when your day is not filled by press conferences, the follies of incompetent government officials, and stories of suffering.
Enjoy making healthful, home-cooked meals. Remember all those times you said you didn’t have time to cook? Now, if you’re currently out of work, you finally have time to cook. Don’t just heat up frozen pizza after frozen pizza! Get in that kitchen and whip up all those tasty delights you’ve wanted to make for years. Learn to bake bread if you don’t know how to do so. Cook things that take half a day to prepare. Make every tiny detail from scratch. Set the table with the nice china and give your food the showcase it deserves.
Work on some projects you never had time to do before. What projects have you always put off because you didn’t have the time? We’re currently converting a storage room in my daughter’s small apartment into a second bedroom since it looks like I’m going to be here for a while. We’ve been going through the boxes of our past and enjoying the walk down memory lane. I’m finally getting all this stuff into scrapbooks. We’re devising clever storage methods and purging things we don’t need. Soon we’ll have an adorable tiny room off the laundry room for some much needed extra space. After that, we’re building some shelves with curtains in front of them for the kitchen to put away our canned and boxed goods, hidden from prying eyes. We also each have some craft projects on the go for entertainment because productive hobbies are always a great idea.
Spend time outdoors. If your municipality allows it, spend some time outdoors. You can still be socially distant while getting fresh air. Avoid the clusters of humans and walk the challenging trails at your local hiking place. Or go early in the day while everybody else is still sleeping in. Getting some fresh air, exercise, and sunshine is healthy for both your body and your mind. If you can’t go out for a walk, at the very least, sit on your balcony or patio and read for a while.
Find something to be thankful for as often as possible. An attitude of gratitude makes tough times easier to stomach. Even now, there are things for which we can be grateful. I am spending time with my daughter and talking regularly on the phone to my other daughter. I am enjoying the blossoming of the spring flowers – always a favorite time of year for me. I am grateful that for now, I still have work online. I’m grateful my daughter is no longer working in retail during this outbreak and that she’s safely home. I’m grateful I have the time to cook delicious meals, experience my daughter’s cooking (she’s really good at it), and spend some bonus time with her. We have two dogs to walk and two cats to cuddle. Life could be much, much worse so take a moment to appreciate what you have right now.
Find something to anticipate. As we talked about before, we live in a period of extreme uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find anything to anticipate. I’m looking forward to the new room we’re setting up this week. I’m looking forward to a movie we plan to watch this weekend when all our tasks are done. I’m even looking forward to organizing the kitchen because that will be such a satisfying task. I also have a book on Kindle I plan to read on my birthday that is coming up. I noticed that daffodils are poking their heads through in the front yard and I can’t wait to see how the place looks when there are sunny yellow flowers everywhere. My homesteader friends back in California are filling my social media feeds with baby goats and baby chicks and I’m counting down the days until a friend’s baby is born.
Sure, these things are short term, and some of them aren’t even my things, but right now, the short term is all we have. Take the joy that’s there. Find things that will occur within the week and don’t look too far in advance.
Stop focusing on things going back to “normal.”
We’d all like to think that one day this will suddenly be over. The kids will return to school. We’ll go back to our offices and our commutes. We won’t be struggling over money anymore. Life will return to the pre-COVID days.
But is this the healthiest way to look at the situation?
Spending all your time looking forward to the day when this is over is an exercise in frustration because nobody knows when that will be. And more than that, nobody knows what “normal” is going to look like when all the lockdowns are over. A lot of things will never be the same.
You can help yourself by learning to adapt now to changed circumstances. This will help you learn to live with the new normal, whatever that turns out to be. Major events are bound to cause major and long-lasting changes. This has happened throughout history.
In reality, the things we’re experiencing right now, while not necessarily easy, aren’t so bad. Things will probably get worse before they get better, but eventually, some form of “better” will come.
Your ability to adapt is indicative of your ability to survive. So let’s get through this lockdown and keep our mindsets positive. Let’s get through the part that comes next.
Then, eventually, we’ll come out on the other side, ready to tackle the new normal, whatever that ends up being like.
What about you?
Does the uncertainty have you on edge? How are you handling your time in lockdown? How are you dealing with the lack of clarity about the future? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Daisy Luther writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.