Silver Linings in the Time of Coronavirus: The Case of Jimmy Fallon
Small pleasures can bring big rewards.
Posted March 30, 2020
Millions of people around the United States and the world are now staying home in an attempt to slow the spread to the coronavirus, and it has not been easy on many levels. Fear of the virus itself as well as uncertainty about the economic impact have added to people’s anxiety, which, in turn, makes many feel out of control.
In that situation, regular rituals, such as weekly visits to the bank or daily walks in a park or neighborhood can boost a sense of security. However, now that people aren’t leaving the house much, if at all, most of those rituals are proving difficult to observe, making it harder to relieve the stress.
It is impossible not to acknowledge that the recent restrictions are throwing a wrench in many lives. But it does not have to be all bad. If we pivot the way we look at things, we might be able to find a silver lining in the call to shelter in place.
For example, Jimmy Fallon recently said he is viewing the call to shelter in place as a chance to reconnect with his wife, Nancy Juvonen. “It’s been very bonding,” said Fallon of their self-isolation. “It’s like getting to know everybody. It’s bizarre.” He added, "My wife and I were talking, we were like: 'We actually like each other! We chose well!'" So, what can you do to try to find the positive in all this negative?
It is easy to think only of what is being lost —that vacation you planned to Europe that you can no longer take or the birthday party that had to be cancelled. But instead of dwelling on what won’t be, think about what is, and turn a minus into a plus.
Hopefully you are at home feeling well and safe. That in itself can be thought of as a benefit, especially for those who regularly work outside the home and get to spend minimal time at home. Now it's time to appreciate home and the opportunity to get to projects for which there has never been enough time before. Outside life has been suspended, so no one is missing out on anything.
Before you were directed to stay home, life was all about routine and responsibility. Now many have the chance to balance that with a sprinkle of pleasure and exploration each day. Build in play time while you are staying safe and protecting the greater good.
There is a lot you can finally get to: clean out a closet, learn a new language, teach yourself how to play the guitar, reconnect with old friends by phone or computer, stay in touch with friends through video chat, take an online course, watch that movie, work your way through a cookbook, bake bread with your kids. Make your house your playground, turn it into Camp Home. In general, our lives are always racing forward; this virus is compelling people to take a step back and live at a slower pace, more the way things were in the past.
Now is the time to shift thinking from what you are going to try to do—exercising, eating healthy—to acting with more focused intention and making a plan for what you are actually going to do and when you are going to do it in your day. Otherwise, you run the risk of making yourself feel bad or guilty about what you didn’t follow through on.
This is where having structure can be invaluable: sticking to a set wake-up time and bedtime, making room for exercise each day—whatever works for you. It can help to make a weekly calendar so you can see it and are motivated to accomplish your goals.
Of course, some daily responsibilities don’t go away, and it’s a good idea to make sure everyone pitches in with the chores of cooking and cleaning and laundry. It’s time for teamwork. Help model for the kids that this is the time when everyone has to pull their weight; they will feel good about sharing the responsibilities.
Although you may be going nowhere, don’t let yourself go. It’s as important now as ever to hold on to what makes you feel good about yourself in terms of self-maintenance, despite the disruption of usual routines. Whether it is wearing clean clothes, putting on jewelry, applying makeup, shaving, washing your hair, or showering regularly, these contribute to self-esteem.
It may help to remember that the current state of affairs is not a forever condition; the curb on activity is for the present and the near future. Whatever changes you make in your life to battle the pandemic will not necessarily be permanent unless you want them to be.
Instead of viewing the current situation as a loss of control, realize that you take control by making the choice to stay home and protect yourself and your family as well as to save the lives of others. Jimmy Fallon and his family are making the best of it; hopefully you can, too.