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How to cope with the sudden new world of Covid-19 and Sheltering-In

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

There is a beautiful quote you may have seen floating around on social media:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

"And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

"And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."

~Kitty O'Meara

This resonates with so many of us. We crave this while the culture of fear is omnipresent. News networks bombard us with constant information. We are forced to abide by this current situation, by-passing any denial we’d prefer to hide behind, and quarantine ourselves in a situation very unfamiliar and frightening to all of us. Our elders can tell us this too is life: that they and their parents have been through past pandemics, World Wars, they survived it. How do we?

The above quote gives us a needed invitation to think about how to re-conceptualize something that feels outside the parameters of personal control and dark to something hopeful, and even transcendent. The question is, how do we find our way from where we are right now (overwhelmed, understandably fearful, and so uncertain) to a place of trust in ourselves, others and a bright future?

We will find our way by choosing to center (again and again and again); to ground ourselves in mindful practices, realistic thought and kindness (for self and others); through generous and frequent soulful self-care; by connecting to what is real in the-here-and-now; and taking it one step at a time.

We can work on what Brene Brown calls “wholeheartedness” – we can choose to stay vulnerable and real and present and keep showing up. We have an opportunity to kind to ourselves and others when we are in a state of fear:

  • We can acknowledge the feelings

  • We can hold space by lovingly staying present and normalizing whatever feelings are present

  • We can look for and give simple things that are comforting and validating

  • We can look for, or imagine, leadership/voices that are centered, grounded, realistic yet optimistic; and breathe into belief and trust

  • We can limit or stop giving our attention to individuals or thoughts that create more fear and unease

  • We can connect to the part of us that can stay steady and present and confident that the path/answers will present themselves,

  • We can remember we have already found our way through many crises, and have often grown in powerful new ways

We can do practical things:

  • We can limit the constant information reminding us of the virus (this is safe to do, as long as we are adopting best practices of minimizing transmission) by limiting our time on social media and the news

  • We can see the invitation to simplify our lives and establish new routines that include daily exercise, healthy home-cooked meals, hobbies, connecting to those most important to us

  • If we are “sheltering alone”, seek and deepen connection: call family members and friends, offer others encouraging words “I am here, we have so many resources, it will be fine, I am thankful for you, we will make it through”

  • Indulge your hobbies: play games, do puzzles, cuddle with your furry family member, cook food, make things, plant seeds, color, write, read, play basketball in the backyard,: try to remember how to be like a kid again

  • LAUGH: find a way to be goofy, playful, light-hearted in the most loving, authentic way you can

  • Discover what real self-care means: do you like baths? Have you tried meditation? Go for a walk? Dance like nobody's watching? Play games with others? So many of these things we can do at-home or, thankfully, virtually

  • Hold yourself loving accountable by noticing your own negative thinking, the fearful stories you create, your part in that conflict….what patterns do you want to change?

As Ghandi taught us: Be the change you seek. As you spend increasing time in your own internal world, who do you want to be? How do you want to change?

  • Now is a time to realize that your thoughts and every-day healthy actions are powerful: use self-made mantras to declare who you are and how you will make it through this current stress: “I am centered, I am calm, I will make it through one step at a time, I make good decisions, my body is healthy, I take good care of myself…”

  • Choose to show kindness to others. See that we are all in this together, and that as we give and calm others, we feel better as well. Find ways to charitably give to those who are trying to help the less fortunate. Is there someone you can check in on? Research shows us that when we are kind to others, we feel better too. We can control something small in a loving way!

  • Show up! What can you do today to make your world, and others world, a better, happier, safer, kinder place?

  • Are there lessons you can learn through this crisis? Take those lessons to heart! “ I can live with less. I know what is truly important: __________(you fill in the blank). I want to be part of a society that prioritizes health and wellbeing over other issues. I need to work on my fear, tension, health……” Crises can be great teachers, if we allow them.

  • Support the helpers: the first responders, the medical professionals, the not-for-profit organizations who approach difficulties head-on to make a difference.

More broadly, deepen your faith. When we are faced with what we can’t control, we turn to our belief in something bigger. Do you have faith beliefs you can lean into? Does your understanding of God or Higher Source give you guidance and reassurance during this crisis? Don’t be scared to question your faith, whether it is plentiful or previously injured. Know that if you have some uncertainty, it is an invitation to approach and deepen your belief. Can you find a guiding light or meaning, even when in a dark hour? Making meaning helps us face uncertainty and believe and trust in the power of such healing concepts of Love, Benevolence, Purpose, Faith, Kindness and Grace.

Lastly, know that you are not alone. There is help if you are struggling. Ask for help. From friends, from family. Get counseling…through a leap of faith to trust a stranger: we are professionals who are here to join you on your journey, support you through your concerns and help you feel more empowered to believe that, one step at a time, you can and will make it through this.


Sounds True: “we have created this special digital care package to help you navigate the coming days with mindfulness, compassion, and presence. Please share and enjoy these free resources—we can all use some support!” “We have put together this free guide Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty."

Ten Percent Happier: “In times like these, we need practical, actionable ways of coping with stress, fear, and anxiety. The meditations, podcasts, blog posts, and talks on this page will help you build resilience and find some calm amidst the chaos.”

Free online yoga: “the internet is chock-full of free online yoga resources to help you practice at home. Whether you’re looking for beginner’s yoga, advanced yoga, tutorials on specific postures or meditation sequences, these resources have it all.” “Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention.”

Mandala coloring pages: “There are more than 1,000 mandala coloring pages here, so you're sure to find something that catches your attention, whether you're new to grown-up coloring or you've been into it for years”

Mindfulness and compassion practices can help us find an inner refuge, and deepen our loving connection with each other. This list of talks and guided meditations will support you through these difficult times.


Mental health

Do you think you have COVID19?

 If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, follow the steps below to help protect other people in your home and community.

Need help with food?


If you have nowhere to sleep tonight: Head to your closest ER, police dept, or to 10 S Kedzie. There, you can call 311 and Catholic Charities will transport you and your family to the Salvation Army Shield of Hope Shelter for that night. If you need to find a safer or more reliable living situation: Text 773-786-9916 or visit

Need helpful resources for Parenting Through COVID-19 Crisis

Sheltering In with an abuser?

DV hotline - Phone: 1.877.863.6338

TTY: 1.877.863.6339 

Rape Crisis Hotline

Call 888-293-2080 in Chicago Metropolitan Area

Call 630-971-3927 in DuPage County

Call 708-748-5672 in the South Suburbs

Donate what you can! (list compiled by WCIU)


Learn more about the author of this post: Lisa Catania, MSW, LCSW


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