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All You Really Need to Know, You Learned in Kindergarten

Wellness lessons for the COVID-19 crisis.

Gelani Banks/Uplash
Source: Gelani Banks/Uplash

by Wendy Baer, MD on behalf of the Atlanta Behavioral Health Advocates

Sometimes when we take a step back we are able to realize simple acts, such as washing our hands, can help combat even the most complicated problems. Here are some simple wellness lessons for the COVID-19 Pandemic inspired by Robert Fulghum’s essay “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” (Fulghum, 1988).

1. Share if you can. Charities are open for donations, and giving feels good.

2. Play fair by playing at home. If you are a carrier, being in public is not fair to other people.

3. Don't touch people outside of your home. Wave, smile, and say Hello, it helps to feel connected.

4. Put things away at home; tidiness calms the mind.

5. Clean up your own mess, now and always. People like you more if they are not cleaning up after you.

6. Don't take things that aren't yours without asking, and if you have extra, share, especially toilet paper and masks.

7. Say you're sorry if you yell, but try to walk away before you yell. Three deep breaths always helps.

8. Wash your hands before you eat, and after you eat, and after you go outside, and after you go to the grocery store.

9. Flush, and wash your hands.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you, but just two cookies, and a bit of fruit and veggies. Crisis pounds may weigh you down.

11. Live a balanced life online and offline. Find a virtual class, museum, zoo, aquarium, musician, or artist to follow, but find times to be away from the screen too (especially from the news).

12. Take a nap every afternoon for 30 minutes max. If you sleep longer during the day, you will be up at night without the helpful distractions of daytime.

13. When you go out into the world because you are an essential worker (health care, groceries, pharmacy, sanitation, police, or paramedic), give yourself credit for keeping people healthy, fed, and safe. You are a hero.

14. Be aware of wonder. Notice wins, share good news. Notice that nature, trees, and flowers are flourishing, the air is cleaner, and the noise is down.

15. People die every day; it's just that now we are more aware of it than ever. Life is precious, practice compassion and gratitude so you can appreciate this moment.

16. And remember books from childhood, the ones with wonder and magic and kids who overcame great odds on awesome adventures to find a better place. We will get there.

For more wellness and coping tips to help you and your loved ones during the pandemic please see the Wellness Guides developed by the Caring Communities Initiative.


Fulghum, R. (1988). All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things. New York: Villard Books.