The unexpected and unchartered coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused us to social distance, shut down businesses, and create a new virtual work and homeschooling experience—all to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
A prominent emotion you may feel is uncertainty—about your health, your children, your job, your money, and the economy. Not to mention the stress of not being able to engage in the most basic activities, like getting a haircut, working out at the gym, or meeting a friend for coffee.
The good news: You are not powerless, and you can take action to feel more in control, starting now. Use these tips to help you navigate through these unpredictable times.
For Your Financial Health
It’s easy to let emotions and the latest headlines drive your financial decisions. Instead, focus on your long-term financial goals to help you make the right choices.
Talk to your family
If there ever were a time to talk about money as a family, it’s now. Discuss budgeting strategies and take a look at where you can cut back on expenses. Talk about your comfort levels with tapping into savings. If you’re working from home, put the money you’d spend on gas and daycare into an emergency fund account. You might also want to update or create your will.
Review your company benefits
Investigate all the benefits that are available to you through your employer. Think about pet insurance, a legal services plan, or a health savings account (pre-tax money saved for medical expenses). You may not have considered these options before, but review them for future consideration to see how they can save you money.
Evaluate your risk tolerance
It’s hard to honestly evaluate your ability to stay on track with everything changing so rapidly. But now could be the best time to assess or reassess your ability to withstand risk. Speaking with a financial professional can help you get started.
Give it time
If you’ve never invested before, all the news surrounding the stock market may feel overwhelming. Now is a good time to get educated and maybe even start planning for your portfolio. Because throughout history, the market has always recovered after a downturn.
Think twice about large purchases
Consider postponing any large purchases like a new couch, cell phone, or a roof for your home. After things stabilize, you can reevaluate your situation to see if you’re in a position to spend a little more.
For Your Emotional Health
Take a break from the news
It’s important to know what’s going on in your community and the world. But try not to obsessively check the news all day—it can drain your energy and affect your mood. Stick to trustworthy sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or your local public health authorities.
Ask for help
If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to speak with someone, utilize your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These programs can provide confidential counseling services to help support your wellbeing at work and in your personal life.
Focus on the things you can control
If you feel yourself getting caught up in what-if scenarios, shift your focus to the things you have a handle on. Continue your daily routines as best you can or create new ones. Take advantage of your time at home to learn a new language, read a novel, organize your closets or your office, and (finally) print your digital photos.
Stay connected virtually
Even if you’re physically isolated, use video chats to stay connected—try hosting your book club virtually or have a happy hour with friends. And don’t let the seriousness of the news dominate the conversation. Share stories and laugh—a lot.
Be patient with other people
We’re all feeling anxious, and everyone handles stress differently. With that in mind, try not to judge others for their actions or emotions, such as being disappointed about having to postpone a birthday party. Be empathetic to what others are feeling, even if you don’t completely understand or agree.
Take care of yourself
Eat nutritious meals; get restful sleep; exercise daily. These habits bear reminding because they’re the first to fall by the wayside. Try to maintain a healthy routine as best you can, and leave room for flexibility.
Try mindful meditation
Even if meditation hasn’t been your thing in the past, you might want to reconsider it now. There are many useful meditation mobile apps and websites to choose from—some sessions are as short as one minute—if you don’t have much time. Try it out, you just might pick up a new habit.
It’s important to have patience, stay calm, and make sensible decisions in our new reality. Even though the perceived path is unclear, we’ll keep looking forward and the future will be what we make it. And that is certain.