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  • Rebecca P. Cohen

What Calms You Down?

A few months ago, my coach said, “We are all white-knuckling life, trying our best to make sure nothing goes wrong.”

I have been fascinated to see the reactions among us all to the coronavirus, from toilet paper hoarding to even my husband’s noticing of which brands fly off the shelves first.

Last night, I stopped in the liquor store on the way home to get a bottle of wine. It was calm; the store seemed no more busy or less busy than usual. Apparently next store, at the grocery store, there was utter chaos. I didn’t know it, but my husband was there doing the weekly grocery shopping. I got a text, “Can you go pick up our son? It’s armageddon here. The lines are enormous and about 60% of the shelves are empty. I don’t think I can pick him up in time.”

I had been driving around for two hours and really needed to pee, but I decided heck, what’s another hour? He’s having to endure the chaos; I can wait.

I’ve done my best to gather information as the coronavirus has spread to understand what I can do. The rest is out of my control.

I think it has helped that as a tutor of English for speakers of other languages, I have clients whose families and friends in China have been impacted with their routines, but their elderly parents in particular have adjusted their lives, are comfortable, and do not have the coronavirus.

Fear is a nasty thing. I have lots of fears, but for some reason I’m able to let go of this and just do my best. My daily walks outside are still my lifeline to just let go and be.

This morning, my 18 year-old said that every post he sees on Instagram is related to the coronavirus and it is overwhelming. I suggested he take a break from what he looks at that is feeding his anxiety.

I grew up in a household that had the news on all the time. It made me anxious as a kid. As an adult, I like to stay informed and research facts that allow my anxiety to calm, but I purposefully don’t watch the news all the time, because I know it makes me anxious.

I want to be here and hold space for those having a hard time and invite others to do the same. We are all impacted in a shift to our routines and potentially to our livelihoods and our health and the health of our loved ones, which is a scary thing.

I am starting a daily online support group, Connection amidst chaos. I welcome you to join me whenever you feel like you’d like a little connection to calm your anxiety or to troubleshoot solutions to problems you are facing. If we can all be here for each other and not let our physical isolation isolate us, I think connection can be powerful calming medicine that many of us need. Register here.

Rebecca P. Cohen is a social entrepreneur and founder of, the curated peer hub that connects you with experience from caring members during challenging life circumstances. Rebecca is also the founder of and author of the parenting book Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids and children's book, PJ's Backyard Adventures. Rebecca has worked with over 6,000 children around the world in making outdoor connections for a healthier life. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, and Backyard Solutions.