By Rev. (Prof.) Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete
Everyone will admit that these are times that try a person. For the first time in a while, families are forced to spend time together, people are forced to re-examine work and there are additional stressors that can either make you or break you, as the cliché goes.
Before the Corona Virus was declared a Pandemic, I was in several countries and was subjected to the test (thankfully tested negative). It was fascinating to witness the attitudes of people from various ethnicities and nationalities. Everyone has different coping mechanisms and has a choice on the outlook to take concerning not just the virus, but the ensuing lockdown or self-quarantine.
To cope with the situation, I have several suggestions about how to be productive and maintain your sanity, so that we can all come out at the other end of the pandemic, better humans.
- Take care of your Spiritual self.
I agree with those smarter than me that we are tripartite beings, meaning that we are made up of body, soul and spirit. The body of course is our physical person that we can touch, while our soul contains emotions. The spirit man is sometimes left unattended, but even research shows that most successful people work on their spirit man or spirit woman because things happen in the spirit realm before manifesting in the physical. During this period where people are scared, it is good to start first by working on your spiritual self. This includes reading the Bible, praying, meditating. You must “feed your faith, starve your fear.” John C. Maxwell. This will help with hope.
- Eat well.
I know this is a great opportunity to binge on comfort food because that is what your body is craving. Resist that temptation and add a few fruits and vegetables. Remember to wash the fruits and vegetable. Okay, you have my permission to have butter pecan ice cream once a week. The idea is moderation but prioritizing healthier foods. Healthier foods will not only give you energy, but also boost your immune system. It will help you fit in your clothes later.
- Engage in physical exercise.
Try a few physical activities. The fact that gyms and parks are closed does not preclude you from taking short walks, doing calisthenics or yoga. Don’t stay locked up indoors like I have done some days writing and grading exams. It is not good for your mind either. The restricted movements (stay-at-home orders) have exceptions for exercise. Of course, this is not the time to train to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude van Damme or Serena Williams. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly when you come back home from your walk and use hand-sanitizer.
- Give financially to others.
I am a firm believer in the scripture that says those that sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Or that a guy who gives is more blessed than a guy that hoards. Giving frees you up from covetousness and materialism. Give online to the less fortunate, charities and churches. Please when you give, don’t broadcast it to the whole world.
- Help a disadvantaged neighbor.
There is probably an elderly neighbor, someone with disability or a single parent without a means of transportation that you can help by buying something they need from the grocery store. You can still practice social distancing by dropping off the item on the front door or announcing your presence so they can give you space to drop it off inside if needed. Be creative and use wisdom. Focusing on the needs of other people, makes you less self-centered. Again, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly with soap when you come back home and use hand-sanitizer.
- Engage in self-improvement by taking a virtual self-improvement class or reading a book.
Five of us decided to take a John Maxwell Mastermind class facilitated by a friend of mine named Jeff, using Zoom. Even though we are only on Chapter 2, I have found myself doing more self-appraisals and growing. That should be expected because the book we are reading is “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.”
- Acquire new technical skills.
For those of us in cybersecurity or other technology areas, we must keep learning and updating our skills. Even if your job does not require it, find a new skill that can help your career and acquire it. Many companies like Atawa Technologies, AWS and, CompTIA are offering discounted training that can propel your career to the next level when this is all over.
- Take advantage of technology to reach out via video.
There are so many software that allow you to talk to family and friends anywhere and see their faces. This reduces the distance better than just an audio call. From WhatsApp, Signal, Duo, Messenger to simple Facetime on iPhones, you are just a video call away.
- Make sure to only get real and verified information (avoid fake news, hoaxes).
The advent of internet and social media have ushered in “part-time and couch” journalist that do not verify their information before posting. Get your news from reputable media houses including PoliticGovernance.com and not your distant cousin on your great-grandfather’s side or the guy who is always online posting because he received an android device as a Christmas gift.
- Reduce your consumption of the corona virus news.
I understand we need to stay in touch to get vital information, but must you get an hourly update on the total number of new cases and death? The mind is an amazing thing can affect you physiologically based on what you feed it. So, only consume what you need such as road closures, restricted movements and when the $1,200 stimulus check is going to arrive for those in America.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously – find humor, laughter.
I found Nollywood films and Facebook short videos as a great way to laugh out loud. Of course, there is Netflix, Hulu etc. Appreciating humor helps alleviate the tensions. Laughter is good medicine.
- Count your blessings and be thankful.
It is beyond cavil that thanksgiving and depression cannot co-exist at the same time. No matter where you are or what you are going through, there is always something to be grateful for.
We will come out of this stronger. Stay safe and positive.
Rev. (Prof.) Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete is an IT professional, Cybersecurity Consultant, PMP, Pastor, Educator, Trainer, rtd. Attorney, Author, Mediator & Conflict Coach writes from Washington DC, USA.