It’s not an easy question. Schools are closing. Trips are being cancelled. We are being told not to visit our grandparents if they live in a nursing home. But we’ve always been told to live our lives and not be afraid to step out of the house. Should the country be on quarantine for a few weeks? Probably. It seems like that would be the easiest way to end this quickly. I get that it would affect the economy, but health is more important, isn’t it? We should probably be learning from what all the other countries have been going through.

For now, I think we just have to be smart about our choices. So, like, if we have a cruise or a concert, we don’t go; If we are at a restaurant, ideally, cancel, and cook at home, but if you have to go, and someone is coughing, move to another table or area; If we bite our nails, then put on that gross tasting nail polish so that it will make you stop putting your fingers in your mouth. Obviously, wash hands often, especially when eating or after sports. The hugging, kissing, shaking hands, and high-fiving has to stop for awhile. If we’re feeling even a slight symptom, we should self-quarantine just to make sure we’re okay and not spreading anything, and if you read the articles, we should self-quarantine even if we’re feeling fine. That’s what I’m doing. I wasn’t happy about it at first, when my parents told me we were quarantining, but now I get it.

I went to DC with my school last week, and I was nervous, sure, but I did everything I could to stay healthy, including wiping down the airplane seat with disinfectant before I touched it, which I’m sure some of my friends thought was ridiculous, but it’s what I needed to do (and plus, I promised my mom).

Some of us may live with immunocompromised parents or parents/grandparents over 60, and in that case, we need to be extra careful when touching things in the house, and make sure our hands are clean. If we feel a sneeze coming on, even though it may be an innocent one, there’s no real way to know that, so go sneeze in the other room into your elbow. Help out by disinfecting the house.

But most importantly, we need to be kind and calm. I’ve read that there have been cases of bullying. That’s kind of sad and not really fair. This virus presents like a head cold, so a lot of people don’t even know they have it, and it has a long incubation period, so they don’t even know they were exposed to it. I know that the bullying is coming from a place of fear, but we really need to try to be compassionate instead. If someone is coughing, try not to be rude, and maybe you can gently suggest in a kind way that they stay home from school, in an abundance of caution (assuming your school is still open). Or if your friend is biting his/her nails, nicely remind that person that it would be better for their health if they can make a conscious effort to keep their fingers out of their mouths. If you do this in a kind way, they will not get upset, and it will not seem as if you’re bullying.

Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, everything will be closed, and we are going to be stuck in the house for a while. This can be really hard on teenagers because of the connection factor. Usually I’m the one that says get off social media (It’s been off my phone now for about 8 months), but during this time, I am getting back on it, because other than FaceTime, it’s the only way for me to connect with my friends. I don’t love it, but during times of isolation, it serves a purpose. It’s better than nothing.

Another thing, sometimes it’s hard to be cooped up for long period of times with family. We love them, but they can get on our nerves. Kindness, compassion, and empathy are important here, recognizing they are going through the same thing. None of us are happy about it, but we have to do it, for everyone’s sake. Schools are closing for a reason, and that’s not an invitation play a contact sport (the NBA and NCAA have both stopped games for the same reason) or have play dates. Instead, go outside in your backyard for a few minutes, run around the block, as long as you stay away from other people. If you have little siblings, help them with the boredom by playing a board game with them, watching a movie, going on the free Wuf Shanti mindful mobile app for a few minutes every day. It has music, videos, yoga poses, meditations, and games. Use the time to be grateful that we at least get to be with our families, to learn something new, or to do something that you haven’t had time for in a while. In my case, I used to draw (e.g.: Wuf Shanti), so maybe I’ll decide to pick up a pencil and get back to that, who knows.

As for remaining calm, I think this is when mindfulness comes into play. First, one of the things we need to do is be aware of and be able to name our emotions, without judgment, and then we can let them go. It’s totally okay to be anxious right now, I am too, it’s normal, but we all need to remind ourselves to take time out for some self-care every day for at least 5 minutes, and simply be present. If you’ve been practicing daily, as I hope you have been, then you have the tools to use now, during stressful life situations. Do your breathing techniques, mindful movement and yoga exercises, practice meditation, affirmations and active positive thinking, and/or whatever healthy coping mechanism helps you handle stress and anxiety. Do what you can to control your environment, and try to bring your mind back from the future of what may be or what may happen. Focus on now, and while you’re at it, send some love out into the Universe. If there was ever a time for mindfulness, now is that time.

It’s all about health and wellness, peace and positivity. As my Grandpa would say, “Think Well to Be Well.”

Stay healthy everyone. Peace.