Guest Contributors

Lessons from an American in China During Covid-19

Hello friends, I am reading the SF Chronicle, the NY Times, listening to local radio from back home and I can surmise that things are ramping up due to the virus. I want to share a few things that helped me here in China while I am still in isolation.

First, it’s really helpful to set a daily schedule. Use your phone to help you keep it, too. Schedule everything. This might sound silly, but two of the difficult things for me were/are being alone for a long while and then losing track of time either working online or binge-watching films and videos! Schedule a regular daily wake-up time and go-to-bed time first… sleep is so key to health and well-being.

Then schedule your day between those times – schedule everything and set alarms/buzzers to keep you on track. Schedule regular movement times during the day; do the stairs in your apartment/house, turn up the music and dust or organize an area of your flat, the point is to move your body.

Plan and schedule meditation or time for breathing exercises that help to calm and give our minds and bodies all the good oxygen that we need. Just 5 or 10 minutes of this several times throughout the day is so beneficial.

Schedule your mealtimes. This was key for me as I am a stress eater and gosh I can munch while I work or watch a video! Trust me this is a very good thing to schedule! Include some meal prep time to have healthy snacks premade to nosh on when you’re hungry.

In this schedule, keep up with the good self-care you so deserve. Schedule time to do that DIY facial, or to do that mani & pedi you will need during this time! Fellas, you too, take time to do those things you usually have the barber do for you, but do ’em at home.

Schedule your day to go to the market and make a list of provisions that you need for 5-7 days of fresh produce and the like. Each visit also pick up a few staples (don’t hoard, but each visit pick up TP, dried goods like rice & beans & quinoa, batteries, laundry detergent, pet care supplies [these were in short supply here in China, and I was glad I remembered my fur babies each store visit]).

The key is when you approach your days, this time in isolation, in this pragmatic and organized way, you overcome the anxiety that naturally comes with these circumstances. It worked for me, mostly. I still had to deal with some depression at being alone for so long, and there were days that I didn’t heed those pesky alarms, and this is where and when I learned how helpful this scheduling was/is for me during this time.

The fact is, this will pass. When we are in the midst of these circumstances and the virus infection is rising and news reports are stressful at every turn, it is hard to remember that this will pass…and it will pass. We are seeing bright light here as we are reaching the end of that proverbial tunnel. Construction and street maintenance has resumed here! Restaurants are opening their doors for take-a-way or delivery! People are returning to the square I can see outside my window – small groups, with loads of space between them but they’re doing Tai Chi. The markets are full full full of people including elderly folks and children. You, all of you, are in our thoughts and prayers. There is hope…

Susan Bradley is an American living and working as an English Teacher in Taizhou, Zhejiang, China.

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