Two popular words seem to propagate the current news headlines, “Pandemic Panic.” Many people find themselves consuming more news, across more networks, than ever before. Living in states where shelter at home and keep businesses closed orders have been extended, there seems to be little else to do. There is also the nature of human curiosity to not want to be the one who misses the latest COVID-19 details. Not surprisingly, we find the urge to share what we have heard on all the social media platforms, attempting to convince others of the opinion all should hold.
The healthiest thing we can do is reduce the amount of time watching the 24/7 News cycle. Just as we are urged to have less screen time on our SmartPhones and Pads, we need to consume less politicized analysis of the smallest details in a report. Here are some healthy choices that we can make.
- Simply turn the TV, the computer, the SmartPhone, and other devices off! As Stewart Shankman, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has written, “There’s a point where, information gathering can become problematic.” Some of us are prone to fear in our nature. Allowing our fears to be fed pushes us toward panic! If we have an aggressive personality, consuming the aggressive politicization dominating the news outlets will feed this aggression!
- Get more exercise. Yes, we are regularly warned to be wise. We should be. We can practice social distancing while going OUTSIDE to exercise. Bicycling is great exercise. It gets our heart rate up. It promotes the feeling of well-being. Most of all, physical activity boosts our immunity! Take a hike in the mountains or walk on the beach…yes we said it. Do not feed the fear! Maintain the “social distancing” that make us feel safe and get outside in the warmth of the sun.
- Binge watch a show you and your spouse enjoy. One of the great benefits of streaming television is the ability to watch multiple episodes of shows…particularly programs we liked but have been cancelled. Watch something that makes us feel GOOD. Just turn off the NEWS.
- Read a book or a magazine that engages your mind….just make sure it is not something about current events. Novels engage our imagination. Magazines that focus on a hobby help us think about new projects we want to adopt.
- Make a list of financial habits that you want to break and a list of financial habits you wish to form. With less activity, this is a very good time to break a few spending habits. Better financial habits are like building muscle, they take time. This is a good way to change a sense of fear into the beginning of optimism.
- Get out of the house and donate some of your stimulus money…or some of your paycheck if your job has continued. One easy way to make a gift is to increase the tip you leave when eating out. The economic shutdown has been particularly cruel and harsh to those in the restaurant industry. While they have received the stimulus funds, food industry employees have been out of work and their bills have continued. Yes, many are not yet able to visit restaurants, but if you can do this…imagine the smile on the face of the server. Contribute to a homeless or women’s shelter. Increase your giving to your church. Sharing with others is one of the best ways to melt the fear that wants to grow in our lives.
- Take some time to revisit the goals you set for 2020 and give yourself a break from them. Fretting and worrying about goals that will not be met due to things beyond our control will add more weight to the fear burden that is being dragged behind us. The Black Swan of the Coronavirus landed in everyone’s pond this year. Look at the goals you will not reach and give them to God. There will be time in the future to create new goals and reach them.
Don’t allow fear to rule life. Commit to living financially (and emotionally) free and pursuing your passions!